1. Martin Biron (GVT 14.3)
After being dispatched from Philadelphia in favor of Ray Emery, Martin Biron still finds himself as an available unrestricted free agent. Were the Flyers right to let him go or was Biron really not the problem in Philadelphia?
Well, the statistics exhibit that the Flyers’ biggest problem last season was not in between the pipes (where the team had an even strength GVT of 12.5), but instead on the blue line (where the team had an even strength GVT of -20.3). Either way, the Flyers chose to address both “problems” this offseason by bringing in Emery and then trading for Chris Pronger. Whereas Pronger served to fill an obvious need, the signing of Emery and the decision to let Martin Biron walk probably had as much, or more, to do with salary than anything else.
Biron is expected to ask for approximately $3.5 to $4.5 million per season and considering his numbers last season that is not much of a reach. Biron was 13th in the NHL with 29 wins, 25th in the league with a 2.76 G.A.A., and 17th in the NHL with a .915 save percentage. Those statistics may not be spectacular, but they are certainly more than respectable. Combine that with the fact that he is known as a positive locker room presence and the former Flyers/Sabres netminder won’t be a free agent for very much longer.
Expect Biron to sign a three-year deal for approximately $13 to $14 million.
2. Marc-Andre Bergeron (GVT 9.8)
If excitement is the name of the game, then you want your team to sign Marc-Andre Bergeron. As exciting as he is offensively, he is equally frightening in the defensive zone which is why he consistently finds himself hopping from team to team.
After scoring 14 goals and tallying 18 assists in 72 games last season, it is clear Bergeron still possesses great offensive ability. On top of that, the speedy former Oiler had the second highest plus/minus rating on the team for defenseman at +5. Unfortunately, he is not very physical (only 30 recorded hits), does not block many shots (less than one per game) and hardly ever plays in short-handed situations (just under 16 minutes all season).
So, Bergeron is essentially a one-dimensional player. Lucky for him the biggest asset he possesses is offense and that is always a needed commodity around the NHL. However, he shouldn’t expect a contract that is long term or overly pricey.
Expect the former Wild defenseman to sign a one or two-year deal at approximately $2 million per season.
3. Alex Tanguay (GVT 9.3)
With all the attention the past few weeks being directed towards Vincent Lecavalier rumors, the drafting of Louis Leblanc, the trades and signings for Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri, many fans have forgotten about Alex Tanguay. That’s right, the same Alex Tanguay who scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
Since that time, Tanguay has moved from Colorado to Calgary to Montreal and now finds himself on the outside looking in while living in his home province.
Considering the soft-spoken Tanguay tallied 16 goals and 25 assists in 50 games last season, it is surprising that we have not heard his name bandied about more often since free agency began last week. Even though Tanguay did not play much short-handed last season, he had done so the season prior in Calgary for Mike Keenan. So, Tanguay has experience playing in all game situations. As well, he is an adept passer who is capable of playing with talented linemates—especially those with a scoring touch. Also, it would be remiss to not point out his team leading +13 plus/minus rating.
In terms of his GVT (9.3--5.8 Offense, 3.5 Defense) that left him 123rd in the entire NHL last season; so, clearly Tanguay still carries value. Expect the unheralded winger to sign a shorter term contract this offseason for a reasonable salary (around $3.5 to $4 million). However, it says here that the team that adds Tanguay will be getting great value and a player who could very easily prove to be worth far more than he originally signs for.
4. Robert Lang (GVT 8.1)
Yes, yes I know Robert Lang is 38 years old. However, I also know that before last season’s leg injury, Lang had only missed 17 games over the previous three seasons. While his age and latest injury are of obvious concern, Lang almost certainly won’t be asking for more than a one year deal (two at the absolute most).
What Lang brings to the table is a player that can play at even strength (11:37 minutes per game), on the power play (3:17 per game) and short-handed (1:57 per game). On top of that, he can take faceoffs (although last year he surprisingly slotted just under 50%), is solid defensively (+ player the past two seasons for two middle-of-the-pack teams) and is a calming veteran influence in the dressing room.
As for GVT (8.1—5.6 offense, 2.6 defense) he slots in at 152nd in the NHL. Looking more closely, there is clearly value in signing Robert Lang. Expect the veteran Czech center to sign a contract worth approximately $2.5 million for one season.
5. Saku Koivu (GVT 8.1)
Talk about an exodus of positive GVTs from Montreal. Just on this list alone, the Canadiens have lost +25.5 goals above threshold. Obviously the Habs replaced these players with Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri, as stated above, but the Canadiens fans are most connected to this particular player.
Saku Koivu was the lifeblood of the Canadiens organization for over a decade now. He was tied for the longest serving captain in team history, was terrific in the Montreal community (probably still will be) and was respected by his Montreal teammates and coaches. Although I am sure it seems odd for Habs fans to read of Koivu in the past tense, this is the reality of the situation.
If you take a close look at the statistics, Koivu is still a very productive player. The Finnish center produced 2.07 points-per every 60 minutes of even strength ice-time, finished 15th in the entire NHL in faceoff percentage at 54.1% and has a career regular season points-per-game of 0.80.
His GVT (8.1—5.5 offensive, 2.6 defense) was the third best on the Canadiens for a forward which tied him with Robert.
All these statistics, and we have yet to talk about Koivu’s incredibly consistent and impressive playoff output (he has never had less than 0.66 points-per-game production in a playoff season).
Expect the highly respected Koivu to sign a three-year deal in the $12 million range.