Gunnarsigned: Three More Years

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
July 23 2013 01:08AM

 

The Leafs fan populace needed something new to talk about, and fast, as cycle three or four of "let's tear apart the July 5th transactions" was set to begin. Who would've thought that the new topic at hand would involve good news? Today, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carl Gunnarsson came to terms on a three year extension, set to pay an average of 3.15 million per year to the Swedish defender. 

I'm of the belief this is a rather good deal. 

To The Dollar

One of the best ways to define value, naturally, is to find similar deals. So I went on a search across the league, finding players who fit the following criteria:

  • Were between 24-28 at the start of their contract year (Gunnarsson would've been 25, but due to the lockout, started at 26). This keeps development curves similar, and eliminates bridge contracts.
  • Were resaonably close to the equivalent of 3.15 million for their year, 4.9% of the Salary Cap Celing (2.783M in 09/10, 2.910M in 10/11, 3.15M in 11/12 and this year, 3.439M in 2012/13)

I found the following players:

Player Contract Year Age Contract
Carl Gunnarsson 2012/13 25 3.15 x 3
Marc Methot 2010/11 25 3.0 x 4
Andy Greene 2010/11 28 3.0 x 4
Roman Polak 2010/11 25 2.75 x 5
Rostislav Klesla 2009/10 27 2.975 x 4
Karl Alzner 2012/13 24 2.8 x 4
Andrej Sekera 2010/11 24 2.75 x 4
Kevin Klein 2012/13 28 2.9 x 5
Trevor Daley 2010/11 27 3.3 x 5
Matt Greene 2008/09 25 2.95 x 5
Jonathan Ericsson 2010/11 26 3.25 x 3
Dennis Seidenberg 2009/10 28 3.25 x 4

We don't know what statistcal metrics every single NHL team uses when negotiating with a player. Combine that with the fact that Gunnarsson's deal was made as a way to beat arbitration, and rather than using any "advanced" numbers to compare the players, I've stuck to standard fare: production, ice time, and the ever-so-dreaded real time statistics. 

Player GP G A PTS +/- PIM S S% TOI ATOI
Carl Gunnarsson 37 1 14 15 5 10 28 3.6 787 21:17
Marc Methot 74 0 15 15 2 58 58 0 1472 19:31
Andy Greene 82 4 19 23 -23 22 91 4.4 1834 22:22
Roman Polak 55 3 9 12 -4 33 54 5.6 1098 19:57
Rostislav Klesla 26 2 6 8 -7 26 24 8.3 523 20:07
Karl Alzner 48 1 4 5 -6 14 39 2.6 1006 20:57
Andrej Sekera 76 3 26 29 11 34 88 3.4 1603 21:06
Kevin Klein 47 3 11 14 -1 9 54 5.6 960 20:25
Trevor Daley 82 8 19 27 7 34 131 6.1 1844 22:29
Matt Greene 82 2 12 14 1 111 28 7.1 1619 19:44
Jonathan Ericsson 74 3 12 15 8 87 89 3.4 1179 17:05
Dennis Seidenberg 79 4 28 32 6 39 153 2.6 1811 22:55

These guys all got very similar ice time in their contract years. Ericsson (17:05) aside, everybody played between 19:30 and 23 minutes per game, with Gunnarsson being fourth at 21:17. So, in fairness to shortened seasons, be it by lockout and injury, we're going to use my dreaded minute adjustment. Giving everybody 82 games at 22 minutes a game (1804 minutes), you get... 

Player GP G A PTS +/- PIM S S% TOI ATOI
Carl Gunnarsson 82 2 32 34 11 23 64 3.6 1804 21:17
Marc Methot 82 0 18 18 2 71 71 0 1804 19:31
Andy Greene 82 4 19 23 -23 22 90 4.4 1804 22:22
Roman Polak 82 5 15 20 -7 54 89 5.6 1804 19:57
Rostislav Klesla 82 7 21 28 -24 90 83 8.3 1804 20:07
Karl Alzner 82 2 7 9 -11 25 70 2.6 1804 20:57
Andrej Sekera 82 3 29 32 12 38 99 3.4 1804 21:06
Kevin Klein 82 6 21 27 -2 17 101 5.6 1804 20:25
Trevor Daley 82 8 19 27 6 33 128 6.1 1804 22:29
Matt Greene 82 2 13 15 1 124 31 7.1 1804 19:44
Jonathan Ericsson 82 5 18 23 12 133 136 3.4 1804 17:05
Dennis Seidenberg 82 4 28 32 6 39 152 2.6 1804 22:55

Guess what? Suddenly Gunnarsson is arguably the most efficient point producer of his contract class. It's not by a significant margin - the top half is only separated by seven points, but that's still pretty great for somebody signed for his defensive abilites. He also doesn't shoot enough, but considering the entire team appears to be allergic to shooting and he plays a lot of his time along side Dion Phaneuf, I can't say I blame him specifically. Also, if he's only scoring 3.6% of the time, maybe it's for the best.

His +/- looks good here too, which indicates... absolutely nothing other than him playing on a generally good team. I just like making that point a lot, and wanted to scare people who understand that into thinking I was going to use it. The only stat left to take from this are his penalty minutes, which could imply a less physical style of play than the others. Or maybe he's just smarter at throwing the body? On to the dreaded RTS:

Player GP Hits BS GV TK TOI
Carl Gunnarsson 82 179 163 73 25 1804
Marc Methot 82 216 120 33 26 1804
Andy Greene 82 48 154 33 33 1804
Roman Polak 82 181 128 20 18 1804
Rostislav Klesla 82 135 169 24 17 1804
Karl Alzner 82 81 152 41 18 1804
Andrej Sekera 82 69 96 57 43 1804
Kevin Klein 82 124 167 60 43 1804
Trevor Daley 82 31 121 41 33 1804
Matt Greene 82 225 186 67 12 1804
Jonathan Ericsson 82 164 57 86 24 1804
Dennis Seidenberg 82 165 215 25 24 1804

While hits are a subjective, non-standarized statistic that changes from arena to arena, you can see that even with margin of error, Gunnarsson is one of the most frequent hitters in this group. He's also very prone to sacrifce the body to block a shot. Those giveaway numbers could potentially be damning, but it's also evident that he has more total interactions with the puck than most of these players. Besides, most good defenceman will giveaway the puck more frequently than they'll straight up take it away. It's the nature of the game, and why giveaways are such a flawed stat, often filled with top-tier defenders near the heights of the leaderboard.

Adjusted tables both aside and considered, Gunnarsson simply performed better in the sense of straightforward, negotiation-friendly statistics than most of his peers in his contract year. Even now, I feel that Alzner and Seidenberg are the only who I could definitevely say would be more valuable on the Leafs. With that said, Alzer was both a steal for Washington and a bit of an unproductive palyer, and Seidenberg is due for a big raise next July.

Beyond His Price Range

Let's shift over a bit.

  • Gunnarsson finished second amongst Leafs defencemen (24th in the NHL) in points per 60 minutes, despite attempting the fewest shots.
  • An impressive ten of his fourteen assists come 5 on 5, but just two of those were primary assists. There's no particular primary assist recipient or goal scorer, so it's safe to say that rather then a set play this is a result of Gunnarsson having an ability to find people who have more set-up options than himself.
  • Gunnarsson was second amongst Leafs defencemen in Quality of Competition, but that's not shocking when Dion Phaneuf is ranked first in the league. Gunnarsson, on the other hand, ranks fourth amongst consistantly playing NHLers. He's not far from the bottom of lowest Quality of Teammates either (in other news, Dion Phaneuf for Hart).
  • While you're on that rankings list, it's wort nothing that Gunnarsson is the only defenceman in that top 30 with under 40% offensive zone starts. This would be because at 39.8%, he has the fewest of all regular defencemen. Amazing that he was producing points with that considered, and even moreso that he finished 45% of his shifts on the other end; very few players were able to replicate that spike.
  • There are some negatives, though. Gunnarsson finished eighth in individual PDO, 7th last in Corsi On (with a negative Corsi Rel, abliet slight at -0.5) , and benefited from the 8th highest team shooting percentage whlie he was on the ice (panic inducing: also includes Leafs at 1, 2, 18)

Getting Subjective / Conclusion

The stats say Gunnarsson is more than pretty good compared to similarly signed players in his contract years. The fancy stats say he produces efficiently, is set up for failure, but still does alright, even if possibly by luck. But even if we don't let the numbers speak for themselves, how should one feel about this deal?

The reality is, the Leafs don't have many guys that are capable of being dependable players under high minutes, all while meshing with Dion Phaneuf. Gunnarsson, for all intents and purposes, is the only guy that has those additional defensive qualties to make it work. It's kind of like Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel, except that Gunnarsson is actually able to complement his partner and recieved a salary that's reflective of his individual ability instead of the role he's been forced into by default.

In the event that the Leafs ever do get a second top pairing defenceman, Gunnarsson is still very suited to play on a second pair. If anything, he's a better fit as a number three than as a number two. This doesn't make his contract a concern, either; 3.15M is more than solid for somebody in that role, with many teams paying more for their second or even third playing defenders (look at Philadelphia, or... let's face it, John-Michael Liles).

The final factor here is the term. It's rare that you're able to pick up a player with the all around numbers like this, at this price, without commiting for a significant chunk of time. Three years is bigger than a "bridge" at the age of 26, buys UFA years, but also isn't a significant risk to the team. He may prove worthy of a raise, but it's doubtful at this point in his development curve that he'll be significantly better by the end of it. If he regresses? It's an easy contract to suck up for a short period of time, and with cap inflation, could even stay decent if he doesn't.

The rest of the offseason will be interesting, with little cap space left for Franson, Kadri, and Fraser to sign their new deals. But one thing is for sure - the Leafs made a shrewd move here, undoubtably their best major 

 

7cb905bdffc4d09e93770ff4a1889462
I bring news about the Toronto Marlies, opinions about the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a bunch of ridiculous thoughts about everything else.
Avatar
#1 gogreen1010
July 23 2013, 09:46AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

wasn't Fraser not expected to return to the Leafs? i heard something like that on twitter a while ago. but if he comes back, i'm totally okay with it - he and Franson made a great pair.

Avatar
#3 Badger M
July 23 2013, 11:11AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I'm not going to look into Gunnarsson's 2013 season performance too much. It seemed like when he was playing, he was playing injured.

Avatar
#4 Brandon
July 23 2013, 11:30AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Could it be that Franson is the odd man out since Fraser is now pretty much back, as you said Jeffler. Unless they move someone like Liles, there is no way we are getting all 3 of our RFA's back.

Whatever we do though, we are going to be pressed up nicely against that cap.

Avatar
#5 jasken
July 23 2013, 11:38AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Gunnarsson's contract was a steal. I use specific quality things when rating a player BS, Hits, TOI, and few other small little consequence things. Like does he usually play his position or is caught floating out of his area when defending. (e.g. Liles chasing a player who no longer has puck, pointless)

Gunnarsson was one of the most reliable in his own end. (Not great but reliable). Defensively he is the best the Leafs got, so unless they go out and pay 6 mil or so for another top defensive d-man it was worth the 3 mil.

Avatar
#6 Badger M
July 23 2013, 02:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

To be honest, I could easily see Franson as the odd man out.

Call me crazy, but Gardiner could play on the top-line with Phaneuf next year. Highest TOI/G on the Leafs in the playoffs and a 49.1 FF%. 49.1 isn't outstanding obviously but I'll take it for a first shot in the playoffs. Letang sat at 50.0 FF% against the Bruins for reference.

It lets Gunnarsson slide to the second pairing and essentially be our Hjarmalsson. I see Liles playing with him, Gunnar and Liles actually play very well together. Small sample size, but a 55.1% CF% during the 5v5 46:11 ZS Adj minutes they played together last season.

Bottom pairing, w/e. I'm sure there are some Marlies to be called up or something.

Avatar
#7 Adam
July 23 2013, 05:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Brandon wrote:

Could it be that Franson is the odd man out since Fraser is now pretty much back, as you said Jeffler. Unless they move someone like Liles, there is no way we are getting all 3 of our RFA's back.

Whatever we do though, we are going to be pressed up nicely against that cap.

I saw something elsewhere that mentioned a 3rd buyout being a possibility if it was caused by cap restrictions due to rfa's. If that's the case then Liles will be the odd man out, something I can easily live with.

Avatar
#8 Pension Plan Puppets
July 24 2013, 10:02AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Adam wrote:

I saw something elsewhere that mentioned a 3rd buyout being a possibility if it was caused by cap restrictions due to rfa's. If that's the case then Liles will be the odd man out, something I can easily live with.

I believe that they do not get a third buyout but rather they would receive a second window in which to use one of their buyouts.

So the Leafs are out of buyouts.

Avatar
#9 RP
July 24 2013, 12:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

I believe that they do not get a third buyout but rather they would receive a second window in which to use one of their buyouts.

So the Leafs are out of buyouts.

Won't they be able to use an ordinary buyout during this period?

Avatar
#10 Adam
July 24 2013, 02:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

I believe that they do not get a third buyout but rather they would receive a second window in which to use one of their buyouts.

So the Leafs are out of buyouts.

I thought the 2nd window was part of the new CBA from the get go.. a window after this next season finishes..

Or did you mean a 2nd window this summer, to allow movement to get under the cap?

Hopefully thats not the case!

That being said, with today's singing of Ranger I think one of 3 things is happening, or a combination

1) Liles will be traded for a bag of pucks, or something a bit more valuable if some team feels he is worth it. I'd be happy with a 2nd or 3rd round pick

2) this will be used as leverage with Franson to have him accept a lower salary ... Or perhaps he will be shipped off in a trade (I'd prefer #1 over this)

3) Just more general mis-management with no real plan for the future, and no understanding of how to work with the assets you are given properly

Hopefully its not #3.. But that remains to be seen

Avatar
#11 Adam
July 24 2013, 02:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

I believe that they do not get a third buyout but rather they would receive a second window in which to use one of their buyouts.

So the Leafs are out of buyouts.

I thought the 2nd window was part of the new CBA from the get go.. a window after this next season finishes..

Or did you mean a 2nd window this summer, to allow movement to get under the cap?

Hopefully thats not the case!

That being said, with today's singing of Ranger I think one of 3 things is happening, or a combination

1) Liles will be traded for a bag of pucks, or something a bit more valuable if some team feels he is worth it. I'd be happy with a 2nd or 3rd round pick

2) this will be used as leverage with Franson to have him accept a lower salary ... Or perhaps he will be shipped off in a trade (I'd prefer #1 over this)

3) Just more general mis-management with no real plan for the future, and no understanding of how to work with the assets you are given properly

Hopefully its not #3.. But that remains to be seen

Avatar
#12 Adam
July 24 2013, 02:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

I believe that they do not get a third buyout but rather they would receive a second window in which to use one of their buyouts.

So the Leafs are out of buyouts.

I thought the 2nd window was part of the new CBA from the get go.. a window after this next season finishes..

Or did you mean a 2nd window this summer, to allow movement to get under the cap?

Hopefully thats not the case!

That being said, with today's singing of Ranger I think one of 3 things is happening, or a combination

1) Liles will be traded for a bag of pucks, or something a bit more valuable if some team feels he is worth it. I'd be happy with a 2nd or 3rd round pick

2) this will be used as leverage with Franson to have him accept a lower salary ... Or perhaps he will be shipped off in a trade (I'd prefer #1 over this)

3) Just more general mis-management with no real plan for the future, and no understanding of how to work with the assets you are given properly

Hopefully its not #3.. But that remains to be seen

Comments are closed for this article.