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Looking for Cheap Replacements

Who could replace Tim Schaller and Riley Nash

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It has been rumored that Tim Schaller and Riley Nash, both unrestricted free agents, could be on their way out. Both players had great seasons, so it’s no question they’d want to test the market. Based on Matt Cane’s salary cap projections, Riley Nash could expect a pay raise, earning himself a three-year contract with an average annual value of two and a quarter million. However, Schaller probably won’t see much of a pay raise as his contract projection is around a million.

Granted the Bruins could replace these players from within their system. In fact, that is probably the best way to do it. But with a team likely chasing a Stanley Cup this season, the Bruins front office may want veteran replacements.

Daniel Carr (LW), Projected Cap : $746,323

Earlier this week, the Montreal Canadiens announced they wouldn’t extend a qualifying offer to Carr, making him an unrestricted free agent. Looking at his box score stats, perhaps Carr doesn’t look that appealing. He has bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL over the last three seasons, leaving him with 94 NHL games played, and 34 points in those games.

However, when digging a little bit deeper, Carr seems like a decent player. According to Corsica’s Wins Above Replacement model, Carr has been good for 0.48 wins per 82 games over his career. That’s nothing stellar, but better than Schaller over the last three seasons who clocks in at 0.30 wins per 82 games.

Moving to another model, Carr sits 8th among forwards over the last three seasons in xG regression adjusted plus minus per 60 courtesy of Evolving Wild. This is a similar method to HERO charts if you are familiar with those. This is not to be taken as “Carr is the 8th best forward in the league”, but that he may be a valuable player. When comparing him to Schaller using Evolving Wild’s method, again both look pretty good, but Carr looks better.

Another form of evaluation that is becoming popular within the hockey community, is microstatistics. Stats like shot assists and zone entries can help point out some hidden gems. Ryan Stimson recently released a visualization tool to compare players using microstatistics. Not all games are tracked, but Carr seems to have an offensive upside.

Carr is still probably more of a defensive forward. His Edgar Isolate shows that quite well.

I think you could expect Carr to be a solid depth forward who can move up and down the lineup like Schaller did for the Bruins. There may be top 6 potential, but more than likely Carr is a solid option on the 3rd and 4th lines.

Nick Shore (C), Projected Cap : $1,003,588

Just like Carr, Shore’s box score numbers have never looked too swell. Since coming into the league in 2014-15, Shore has played 236 NHL games, notching 53 points. He bounced around the league this past season playing for LA, Ottawa, and Calgary.

Shore has been an analytics sweat heart for some time now. And while he his shot metrics have been solid, his team has struggled to score when his is on the ice. However, something tells me this isn’t all his fault. His playmaking abilities appear to be that of a top 6 player.

If it were my guess, a combination of bad luck, poor quality of teammates, and no powerplay time has disguised his offensive upside. Given his great defensive play, as you can see below, you can at least expect a solid shutdown option out of Shore.

A Brief Warning

When addressing “undervalued” players like Carr and Shore, it is important to note that usage has played a big part in them being “undervalued”. Putting them in the same situation, just on your team, probably won’t benefit you, or help them succeed. In order to acquire these two players, the Bruins front office would need to feel that they are putting these players in a better position to succeed than they were previously given.