If I Were The GM – Part 4 : Ranger Nation – The ultimate stop for New York Rangers fans! NYRNation.net - Ranger Nation

If I Were The GM – Part 4

Could Michael Rozsival be a legit option for the Rangers?

Through three parts of the series we’ve explored two different options in addressing the Rangers scoring woes, either signing UFA Ray Whitney (Part I) or dealing for Anaheim LW Bobby Ryan (Part II). Part III dealt with the aftermath of the hypothetical Ryan acquisition and the sudden vacancy created for a 3rd line RW. If you recall, the Ryan deal was built around sending Marc Staal to Anaheim which would appear on the surface to also open up a hole on the blue line. While I agree the Rangers need to address the defensive position it’s not due to any speculative trade of the former All-Star defender; it’s because of the uncertainty surrounding the health and future of Mike Sauer.

After hearing little in the way of news regarding Sauer’s health, there was finally an update on that front. Larry Brooks tweeted some comments from Slats indicating Sauer was feeling “a bit better.” Of course as we saw with Staal and Crosby, it is impossible to accurately predict how long it takes a player to fully recover from post-concussion syndrome.  That makes it extremely probable the Rangers will explore adding another defenseman ahead of the start of the 2012 – 2013 season.

Before we consider possible candidates we need to understand what qualities the Rangers would likely seek in a defensive acquisition this summer. We know that Torts favors pairing RH shooting defenseman together with LH blue liners. Even without Staal the Rangers will still be able to ice lefty shooting defenders McDonagh, Del  Zotto and Erixon on the left side. From the starboard side they only have Girardi and Stralman, assuming of course they elect to re-sign the Swede. With Sauer’s return uncertain and McIlrath probably not quite ready for full-time duty at the NHL level, it would behoove the Rangers to scour the free agent market for a right-handed D that can fill in on the club’s top four.

Obviously the Rangers also expect their defensemen to block a lot of shots and to be defensively responsible. While they might like another blue liner with offensive ability that can play on the PP they won’t sacrifice their defensive structure to do so.

The club also needs to be prepared to find a spot on the blue line for McIlrath once he proves he is ready. That means a long-term deal, while not completely out of the question, is not as appealing as signing a veteran to a one-year contract.

Puck possession is also important to the Rangers game plan. How often in the playoffs did Torts say the team “didn’t have the puck enough,” or “we need to possess the puck more?” This means any defenseman who can help in this regard should be of interest.

Here’s a brief statistical look at the six Rangers blue liners who appeared in the most games for New York. We’ll break down ice time by situation, look at the blocked shot and hit rates per 60 minutes, the quality of both teammates and opponents faced (QoT and QoC) and gauge the effectiveness in driving puck possession using Relative Corsi and Zone Start and Zone Finish.

Zone Start and Zone Finish are likely new to some of you. What this metric shows is the percentage of a players shifts which begin in the offensive zone (Zone Start) and the percentage of shifts which end in the offensive zone (Zone Finish). Intuitively, shifts beginning or finishing in the offensive zone likely are the result of that team possessing the puck. We may assume that players who finish more often in the offensive zone than they start are affecting puck possession in a positive way for their team.

 

GP

ESTOI/Gm

SHTOI/Gm

PPTOI/Gm

H/60

BS/60

Ryan McDonagh

82

21.05

3.05

0.63

3.49

5.38

Dan Girardi

82

21.17

3.3

1.75

5.89

5.16

Michael Del Zotto

77

16.85

1.38

4.18

5.42

3.30

Marc Staal

46

17.67

1.72

0.47

3.61

4.47

Anton Stralman

53

15.27

0.6

1.2

5.04

4.71

Stu Bickel

51

11.96

1.25

0.36

7.46

4.94

Average:

65.17

17.88

2.05

1.59

5.15

4.66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan McDonagh

Rel. Corsi

QoC

QoT

Zone Start (%)

Zone Finish (%)

Delta (%)

Dan Girardi

3.5

0.086

0.035

42.8

49.8

7

Michael Del Zotto

2.1

0.086

-0.11

44.2

49.6

5.4

Marc Staal

-1.1

-0.01

-0.008

51.3

49.2

-2.1

Anton Stralman

-15.7

-0.016

0.015

50.9

48.5

-2.4

Stu Bickel

0.4

-0.077

-0.004

51.6

50

-1.6

Average:

-10

0.012

-0.102

51.9

48.2

-3.7

-3.47

0.014

-0.029

48.78

49.22

0.43

 

The keys I am looking at are the stats which reflect puck possession along with the hits and blocked shot rates. The average Ranger defenseman is only mediocre in driving puck possession (negative Relative Corsi but ending up finishing shifts slightly more often in the offensive zone than not). They also block an average of 4.66 shots per 60 minutes of ice time and throw over five hits per. As such, if I am making the decision, I would make a concerted effort to bring in a player who excelled statistically in the puck possession metrics while also holding his own versus the average Blue Shirt defenseman in hits and blocks.

Once again using Cap Geek I identified a handful of UFA, RH defensemen and one other option who may be available via trade. I ended up with a mixed bag of players. Some are known more as offensive guys; I’ve got a couple of veteran minute-munchers; and a big, physical player. Disclaimer: It’s doubtful any of these names are going to excite you so be prepared.

First, a look at the traditional stats:

D

Age

2011/2012 Cap Hit

Year

GP

G

A

Pts

Pts/Gm

Plus/minus

Dennis Wideman

29

$3,937,500

2011/2012

82

11

35

46

0.56

-8

 

2010/2011

75

10

30

40

0.53

-19

2009/2010

76

6

24

30

0.39

-14

 

 

 

3 Yr. Ave.

77.7

9.0

29.7

38.7

0.50

-13.7

Michal Rozsival

34

$5,000,000

2011/2012

54

1

12

13

0.24

8

 

2010/2011

65

6

15

21

0.32

6

2009/2010

82

3

20

23

0.28

3

 

 

 

3 Yr. Ave.

67.0

3.3

15.7

19.0

0.28

5.7

Adrian Aucoin

39

$2,000,000

2011/2012

64

2

7

9

0.14

14

 

2010/2011

75

3

19

22

0.29

18

2009/2010

82

8

20

28

0.34

2

 

 

 

3 Yr. Ave.

73.7

4.3

15.3

19.7

0.27

11.3

Milan Jurcina

29

$1,600,000

2011/2012

64

2

7

9

0.14

-34

 

2010/2011

46

4

13

17

0.37

-4

2009/2010

44

1

6

7

0.16

2

 

 

 

3 Yr. Ave.

51.3

2.3

8.7

11.0

0.21

-12.0

Joe Corvo

35

$2,250,000

2011/2012

75

4

21

25

0.33

10

 

2010/2011

82

11

29

40

0.49

-14

2009/2010

52

6

12

18

0.35

-10

 

3 Yr. Ave.

69.7

7.0

20.7

27.7

0.40

-4.7

Jason Demers

24

$1,250,000

2011/2012

57

4

9

13

0.23

-8

2010/2011

75

2

22

24

0.32

19

2009/2010

51

4

17

21

0.41

5

3 Yr. Ave.

61.0

3.3

16.0

19.3

0.32

5.3

 

Wideman offers the most offensive upside and at 29 should have several good years ahead of him. However he is likely looking for a multi-year deal which would probably guarantee him an annual salary greater than that of any current Ranger blue liner. A disturbing quality is his poor plus/minus ratings. Despite playing for playoff clubs in each of the last three seasons, Wideman has recorded a composite minus-41 during that time. The probable cost and his own-zone deficiencies make him a questionable fit in my view.

Rozsival and Aucoin once were productive offensive players. Today they aren’t particularly helpful in that regard but as older players are probably in line for short-term deals. Both players also have posted positive plus/minus ratings in each of the last three seasons.

Jurcina is an interesting case. His plus/minus is the worst among these candidates as are his scoring stats. Of course he did play for the Islanders the last two seasons. What makes him interesting isn’t in the chart above but will be made clear soon enough.

Corvo, like Wideman, is better offensively than he is in his own zone. Unlike Wideman, Corvo probably won’t warrant a multi-year deal from his next club.

Demers is not an unrestricted free agent so why have I included him here? San Jose recently acquired then subsequently extended defenseman Brad Stuart giving the Sharks enough depth at the position to perhaps make a trade. Pierre LeBrun, in an insider piece on ESPN.com, (http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/17725/rumblings-ryan-suter-rick-nash-and-more), suggested Demers, a talented young defenseman coming off a down year, could be dangled in an attempt to acquire a winger.

Originally I included Brandon Dubinsky in a trade proposal for Ryan. Recent reports indicate the Ducks would likely not want to take on salary in any deal involving Ryan. In that case the Ducks probably wouldn’t want Dubi in a trade. That leaves open the possibility Dubinsky could be used in this scenario to trade for a defenseman; a defenseman like Demers.

The next step will be to look at each of the candidate’s time on ice and situational point production rates. The one difference from the last post is we will ignore the SH Pts/60 rate since it is not generally the responsibility of defensemen to produce points while down a man. Instead I’ve listed where the player’s team ranked in the NHL in terms of PK %. The rationale is the more SHTOI/Gm a player averages the larger impact he might have on his team’s result.

D Age 2011/2012 Cap Hit ESTOI/Gm SHTOI/Gm PPTOI/Gm ES Pts/60 PP Pts/60 Team SH Rank
Dennis Wideman 29 $3,937,500 18.68 1.93 3.27 0.81 4.17 21
      17.48 2.42 4.07 0.80 3.36 2
  18.50 2.32 2.72 0.58 3.40 3
      21.78 2.64 4.01 0.73 3.64 8.67
Michal Rozsival 34 $5,000,000 17.37 1.88 0.07 0.86 0.00 8
      17.10 1.88 2.00 0.73 3.73 26
  17.62 1.88 1.90 0.74 1.55 7
      19.97 2.16 1.48 0.78 1.76 13.67
Adrian Aucoin 39 $2,000,000 17.63 2.10 0.48 0.39 1.89 8
      17.78 2.98 0.87 0.88 1.85 26
  16.63 2.70 3.20 0.64 2.79 6
      18.10 2.70 1.56 0.64 2.18 13.33
Milan Jurcina 29 $1,600,000 16.23 1.68 0.83 0.41 3.40 23
      14.55 2.32 1.17 0.94 3.55 12
  15.05 2.20 0.38 0.65 0.00 17
      17.85 2.40 0.93 0.67 2.32 17.33
Joe Corvo 35 $2,250,000 16.08 0.30 2.40 0.72 2.68 11
      18.05 2.70 4.02 0.68 4.17 20
  17.20 2.53 3.55 0.64 2.77 25
  18.41 1.95 3.56 0.68 3.21 18.67
Jason Demers 24 $1,250,000 14.65 0.17 1.98 0.59 2.66 29
15.7 1.58 2.18 0.90 2.60 24
12.42 0.62 2.37 0.88 5.02 5
14.65 0.81 2.24 0.79 3.43 19.33

 

Surprisingly Wideman, viewed as a bit of a liability in his own zone, posted the second highest SHTOI/Gm average for clubs that finished near the top of the league in penalty-killing two of the three years in question. He also topped the group in PP point production but was actually surpassed in ES point production.

Rozsival and Aucoin each also saw significant ice time down a man for clubs pretty good at killing off those situations. Rozsival actually posted the second highest ES Pts/60 rate in this group.

Jurcina didn’t exactly stand out in any category in a good way.

Corvo is solid on the mad advantage but notice when his SH ice time is higher his teams rank poorly on the PK.

Demers stands out offensively but like many young defensemen struggles in his own zone. At 24 he still has upside though.

Now finally, as part of the comparison we get to the puck possession metrics, QoC and QoT and the hit and blocked shot rates for each player.

D Year Rel. Corsi QoC QoT H/60 BS/60 Zone Start (%) Zone Finish (%) Delta (%)
Dennis Wideman 2011/2012

2.50

-0.02

0.02

3.46

4.04

49.00

47.90

-1.10

  2010/2011

1.80

-0.02

-0.05

3.17

4.21

51.70

51.30

-0.40

2009/2010

-4.30

0.05

0.08

3.35

3.69

51.30

50.30

-1.00

  3 Yr. Ave.

0.00

0.00

0.02

3.33

3.98

50.67

49.83

-0.83

Michal Rozsival 2011/2012

2.80

-0.01

-0.06

3.57

5.23

46.20

47.70

1.50

  2010/2011

11.80

0.00

-0.08

4.40

4.75

47.60

49.60

2.00

2009/2010

0.30

0.02

0.03

4.65

4.44

49.90

51.50

1.60

  3 Yr. Ave.

4.97

0.00

-0.04

4.21

4.81

47.90

49.60

1.70

Adrian Aucoin 2011/2012

3.10

-0.03

-0.04

4.50

3.11

48.80

50.40

1.60

  2010/2011

-1.50

0.02

0.05

4.96

2.77

46.00

51.20

5.20

2009/2010

7.30

-0.03

0.03

4.29

2.18

50.00

53.10

3.10

  3 Yr. Ave.

2.97

-0.02

0.01

4.58

2.69

48.27

51.57

3.30

Milan Jurcina 2011/2012

1.10

0.02

-0.03

8.65

5.80

51.20

48.40

-2.80

  2010/2011

-8.50

-0.03

0.08

9.04

6.72

45.00

50.80

5.80

2009/2010

-0.80

-0.01

-0.03

6.81

4.56

51.60

47.60

-4.00

  3 Yr. Ave.

-2.73

-0.01

0.00

8.17

5.70

49.27

48.93

-0.33

Joe Corvo 2011/2012

1.90

-0.05

-0.14

1.15

2.39

56.40

54.70

-1.70

  2010/2011

0.70

0.03

0.03

1.62

3.52

49.00

49.30

0.30

2009/2010

7.90

0.06

0.03

1.69

3.42

52.60

52.30

-0.30

3 Yr. Ave.

3.50

0.01

-0.03

1.49

3.11

52.67

52.10

-0.57

Jason Demers 2011/2012

-7.90

-0.08

-0.07

3.76

3.63

55.20

50.40

-4.80

2010/2011

9.10

-0.02

0.04

3.58

2.96

49.20

51.50

2.30

2009/2010

-0.40

-0.08

0.01

3.21

3.05

48.70

47.10

-1.60

3 Yr. Ave.

0.27

-0.06

0.00

3.51

3.22

51.03

49.67

-1.37

 

As for the puck possession metrics, Jurcina is the only player to post a negative Relative Corsi rating average over the last three seasons. Rozsival posted the top average nearly 1.5 better than the next closest mark. Rozsival also averaged a higher Zone Finish % than Zone Start in each of the last three seasons; as did his teammate in Phoenix, Aucoin.

Where Jurcina stands out is in his hits and blocked shot rates. In both cases his rates are better than those of any of the Rangers top-six blue liners from a year ago. At least from the perspective of sacrificing the body Jurcina fits the bill better than any other option.

Rozsival also shows to be adept at blocking shots and also taking the body.

Once again Corvo doesn’t stand out in a positive way. He screams PP specialist to me.

Demers is on the slight side and hasn’t exhibited much of a physical game but showed enough of a willingness to block shots that he could fit in in NYC.

At this stage Rozsival would be my top choice as a 2nd pair right-side defenseman. I’m sure that option doesn’t satisfy many Rangers fans and in truth I’m not particularly pleased with it either.

Because I skimmed the list of available defensemen on Cap Geek and didn’t perform a fully comprehensive search, I have to allow for the possibility I overlooked some potentially solid candidates. With that in mind I went back to www.behindthenet.ca to see if I could discover a few more possibilities.

Filtering out only defensemen who appeared in 50 or more games last year and ranking them in order of highest Relative Corsi ratings, I came up with another six possibilities. Of those only one is a RH shot. Here’s how the new candidates fared using Relative Corsi with Zone Start and Zone Finish for the last two years.

Player

Season

Relative Corsi

Zone Start (%)

Zone Finish (%)

Delta (%)

Cory Sarich

2011-2012

12

47.8

48.6

0.8

 

2010-2011

1.7

49.4

50.5

1.1

 

Average:

6.85

48.6

49.55

0.95

Jason Garrison

2011-2012

10.8

53.7

49.3

-4.4

 

2010-2011

-0.8

42.2

49.7

7.5

 

Average:

5

47.95

49.5

1.55

Nikita Nikitin

2011-2012

8.1

43.9

50.7

6.8

 

2010-2011

-5.3

54.2

48.4

-5.8

 

Average:

1.4

49.05

49.55

0.5

Shane O’Brien

2011-2012

7.2

58.4

52.8

-5.6

 

2010-2011

-3

47.6

49.3

1.7

 

Average:

2.1

53

51.05

-1.95

Greg Zanon

2011-2012

5.1

47.8

50.1

2.3

 

2010-2011

-12.2

37.3

46.6

9.3

 

Average:

-3.55

42.55

48.35

5.8

Carlo Colaiacovo

2011-2012

3.6

50.7

51.8

1.1

 

2010-2011

17.8

58.5

54.5

-4

 

Average:

10.7

54.6

53.15

-1.45

 

Sarich is a proven vet and has performed well according to these metrics the last two seasons. These numbers also show Garrison isn’t just a one-year, flash in the pan at least in terms of driving puck possession. Colaiacovo has posted terrific Relative Corsi numbers but is injury prone having missed 35 games combined over the last two seasons. But if he can stay healthy he could be an undervalued asset in this free agent market. O’Brien and Zanon alternated good and poor seasons the last two years but both play a team-first style.

Now let’s eliminate some options:

Wideman – Will prove to be far too expensive and doesn’t offer enough value defensively.

Garrison – See above.

Corvo – Wouldn’t likely be too expensive but he’s 35 and has never been very good in his own zone.

Nikitin – Is a RFA and there is no reason to think Columbus will let him go easily.

Jurcina – I’m intrigued by the physical game Jurcina plays but a minus-34 last year and negative Relative Corsi ratings two of the last three seasons just is too much to overlook.

Now, let’s rank the remaining players based on my interest level.

Cory Sarich – He plays a physical game (144 and 175 hits respectively the last two seasons) and he has a history with Torts as a member of the Lighting. He isn’t exactly fleet of foot but as a potential partner for MDZ, Sarich fits the bill.

Carlo Colaiacovo – The two flaws are he is a LH shooting defenseman and his propensity to miss time due to injuries. The upside is there and the peripheral stats are right. He played with a terrific defensive team in St. Louis and isn’t afraid to block shots as he averaged roughly 4 BS/60 last season.

Greg Zanon – He hits and blocks shots averaging nearly 7 hits and 8.2 blocks per 60 minutes of ice time. He saw almost 16 minutes of ES ice time per game last year which is about right for a 2nd pair defender.

Michal Rozsival – A vast majority of Ranger fans were quite happy to turn the page on Rozsi’s tenure in New York. Truth is he was a solid player that was grossly overpaid as a free agent. The numbers tell me he could still help this Rangers team.

Adrian Aucoin – I like him for a lot of the same reasons I like Rozsival and Sarich. He’s a solid vet and he still has a big blast from the point though that hasn’t served him in the goal-scoring department of late. He played under a deal that accounted for just a $2 million cap hit and might be available for a similar price tag.

Shane O’Brien – He can be undisciplined and isn’t a good skater but there is no question he would bring an intimidation factor currently lacking on the blue line. It would be a stretch to play him as a top-four defenseman though.

Jason Demers – He isn’t as polished as some of the other alternatives and the Rangers could use someone that can step into the lineup today and play solid defense. Particularly since I envision partnering any new acquisition with MDZ, I would prefer more of a stable veteran presence on this roster.

Well, that’s it for this edition. I apologize for the length (almost 3,200 words) but just like I try to be as detailed as possible in the analysis I felt I needed to be the same in the explanation. I’d love to see your comments and hear about your ideas to fill the need on the blue line.

 

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