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"Hockey Analysis with the Numbers"
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This is part 2 and final of a two-piece article writing about the value of Montreal Canadiens UFAs and RFAs from the 2008-09 season.

In part 1, I covered the big name Habs UFAs and compared them to the new recruits. In short, the value of the UFAs were on average lower than that of the new signings. And as the new signings are more or less all younger (exception is Alex Tanguay), there is greater future value in the new signings. Alexei Kovalev was the only UFA worth his salary last season. Kudos to Habs GM Bob Gainey for his improvement of the team. Sad to see the old guard go but sometimes it has to be done when the older guys were just not delivering.

You can read the full posting here: http://my.hockeybuzz.com/...id=70943&post_id=7989

With the loss of Kovalev to the Ottawa Senators on Monday, July 6th, 2009, and the great possibility of Tanguay signing with an American team and the fact that his number was recycled and given to Mike Cammalleri, the hope for continuity will come from the RFAs. Of Montreal's popular RFAs, Chris Higgins (C) was traded in the deal to bring Scott Gomez to the Centre Bell. This leaves 9 RFAs for Gainey to look at. They are as follows: Mathieu Aubin (C), Shawn Belle (D), Kyle Chipchura (C), Matt D'Agostini (RW), Loic Lacasse (G), Guillaume Latendresse (RW), Olivier Latendresse (C), Tomas Plekanec (C), and Gregory Stewart (LW). It's not the longest list by far. Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals both have 15 each to look at. But still something to watch.

And watch we shall. On July 1st, Gainey offered only qualifying offers to 5 of the 9 RFAs: Chipchura, D'Agostini, G. Latendresse, Plekanec and Stewart. All others became UFAs. Here is a run down of the worth of these nine youngsters.

Summary follows at end

Calculations
The value of a player will be based on their 2008-09 salary per regular season pt. To give you an idea of what this means, here are two of the best point scorers in the league and their value. Lower values indicate better value for the number of points they contribute per season.

Sidney Crosby (C): $8,700,000 | 103 pts --> $84,951 per pt
Alexander Ovechkin (LW): $9,000,000 | 110 pts --> $81,818 per pt

It looks like $80,000 per pt would be a good target. But since these two players are big stars and sell merchandise like crazy, let's take a more conservative approach and say $70,000 per pt. This is similar to the salary of Kovalev or Cammalleri. This applies to 2nd line centreman too.

David Bolland (C): $3,375,000 | 47 pts --> $71,808

*** The stats below come from www.hockeydb.com
*** The ratings below come from www.hockeysfuture.com/playerprojections

Tomas Plekanec (C)
Age: 26 / Size: 5 ft 10 / Weight: 189 lbs

This is biggest name from the RFA list. He has played games for the Montreal Canadiens over the past 5 seasons. Had a breakthrough season in 2007-08 but like many other Hab players, had his worse season in 2008-09. He is an injury-free centreman and been present at all but two regular season games last season, he has basically played every line possible. While it would be nice if he delivered like during the second half of 2007-08 but he was still worth more his money than many of the superstars on the team. According to his points haul, he was similar to Tanguay. Big eye opener for the value of a Tanguay. Plekanec will most likely resign as I don't see him getting a better deal elsewhere.

Last 4 seasons totals: 309 GP | 184 PTS
Last 4 seasons average: 0.60 pts per GP | 77 GP per season

Last 2 seasons totals: 161 GP | 99 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.61 pts per GP | 80.5 GP per season

2008-09 season totals: 80 GP | 39 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.49 pts per GP | 80 GP per season

2008-09 season salary: $1,800,000 ($46,153 per pt)
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $2,730,000

Guillaume Latendresse (RW)
Age: 22 / Size: 6 ft 2 / Weight: 229 lbs

The second biggest name from the RFA list is Guy. Not legendary Guy Lafleur but someone who Canadiens fans are hoping will become. There are so many parallels to make. Both named Guy. Both French-Canadian. Both jumped directly from QMJHL to NHL. Both have three slow seasons to begin their career. Could 2009-10 be his breakthrough season? Very possible. Last season was injury plagued, keeping him off the ice for over a month, but he was getting on the scoreboard more consistently. Latendresse is growing as a player. He is after all still 22. He will be back in Montreal. He will play second-line or third-line, alternating with Matt D'Agostini and Georges Laracque.

Last 3 seasons totals: 209 GP | 82 PTS
Last 3 seasons average: 0.39 pts per GP | 70 GP per season

Last 2 seasons totals: 129 GP | 53 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.41 pts per GP | 64.5 GP per season

2008-09 season totals: 56 GP | 26 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.46 pts per GP | 56 GP per season

2008-09 season salary: $850,000 ($32,692 per pt)
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $1,820,000

Mathieu Aubin (C)
Age: 22 / Size: 6 ft 3 / Weight: 204 lbs

Hockey's Future Prospect Grade: 7.0 D (Second-Line Forward - unlikely to reach potential)

A big forward that Montreal could need in the coming season. However he is overshadowed by better young centremans like Kyle Chipchura or Ben Maxwell. Still at a worse case a potential back up for the fourth line in the short term in the coming season. I would still keep him in a farm team for the most part. He fails to impress even there. 12 pts in 32 games. He deserves another chance in the AHL but not a player who will make the NHL at the moment.

2008-09 season salary: $512,500

Shawn Belle (D)
Age: 24 / Size: 6 ft 1 / Weight: 235 lbs

Hockey's Future Prospect Grade: 7.0 C (No. 3 to 4 Defenseman - may reach potential)

A big defenseman. Sadly, he is getting older and not any better. I don't expect to see him play for Montreal. I probably wouldn't resign him unless he just hangs around in Hamilton. He was no competition to 20-year old teammate Yannick Weber (D) who was selected to the 2008-09 AHL All-Rookie Team. Belle is not ready to be a backup defenseman for next season. Maybe not ever. Although he might just get a few matches in the NHL as a tryout due to his age. There is so much younger defensive talent with greater potential. Belle is not worth keeping around.

2008-09 season salary: $600,000

Kyle Chipchura (C)
Age: 23 / Size: 6 ft 2 / Weight: 205 lbs

Hockey's Future Prospect Grade: 6.0 A (Third-Line Forward - guaranteed to reach potential)

He's no stranger to the Montreal Canadiens. He's played 49 games over past two seasons replacing injured players, recording 14 pts; average of 0.29 pts per game. That is a similar average to Habs team regular Maxim Lapierre (C). Considering Chipchura didn't have much ice time, he performed decent for his young age. I can see him being promoted to playing more games regularly in the NHL if the Habs do not sign anymore centremen. Chipchura is also the current captain of the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL so he might hang around another season in the AHL. It is only a matter of time before he goes permanently to the NHL. Habs fan will be hoping it will be in Montreal.

2008-09 season salary: $860,000

Matt D'Agostini (RW)
Age: 22 / Size: 6 ft 0 / Weight: 201 lbs

Hockey's Future Prospect Grade: 6.0 B (Third-Line Forward - should reach potential)

Like Chipchura, he's no stranger to the Montreal Canadiens. Last season, he was more or less a regular - playing in 53 games. He recording 21 pts in those appearances; average of 0.40 pts per game. With more added ice time, this kid has a strong future in the first team. I have to disagree with his Hockey's Future grade. Despite his young age, he has shown he has future potential to play even in the Second-Line of the Montreal Canadiens. I fully expect to see him in the regular roster alongside Lapierre or Chipchura and playing the full season in 2009-10. I see him trading lines with Guillaume Latendresse.

2008-09 season totals: 53 GP | 21 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.40 pts per GP | 53 GP per season

2008-09 season salary: $508,000 ($24,190 per pt)
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $1,470,000

Loic Lacasse (G)
Age: 23 / Size: 6 ft 2 / Weight: 175 lbs

Hockey's Future Prospect Grade: 5.0 C (Depth Goalie - may reach potential)

He's getting older and wowing nobody. Although a respectable 0.922 save average in his 8 AHL games, he's nowhere near the talent of goalies Credric Desjardins or Robert Mayer. Those two are the replacements for departing Montreal Canadiens 3rd goalie Marc Denis.

2008-09 season salary: $475,000

Olivier Latendresse (C)
Age: 23 / Size: 5 ft 10 / Weight: 195 lbs

Hockey's Future Prospect Grade: 4.5 C (Top Minor League Forward - may reach potential)

Olivier might be the older brother of the Latendresse boys but only one will ever see NHL: Guillaume. Olivier isn't even a top line on the AHL. No point keeping him. When centremen players like Kyle Chipchura and Ben Maxwell (to name a few) are all ahead of a player with Latendresse's skill for a spot on the first team, you can kiss your chances good-bye. He'll remain in AHL and be a last resort backup to some low profile NHL team.

2008-09 season salary: $475,000

Gregory Stewart (LW)
Age: 23 / Size: 6 ft 2 / Weight: 197 lbs

Hockey's Future Prospect Grade: 5.0 A (Fourth-Line Forward - guaranteed to reach potential)

Of all the qualifying offers sent out by Habs GM Bob Gainey, this one I don't get. He didn't impress with Hamilton Bulldogs in AHL. In his 21 games with the Montreal Canadiens, he has contributed an assist. He is nowhere near the skill level of Max Pacioretty (LW). I guess he will remain cheap and can serve as depth to the LW line but he does not perform well enough at this moment to deserve a spot on the fourth line. Gainey can try to prove me wrong on this one but unless the decision was to add depth to left wingers, which the Canadiens are short of, I can't understand the logic.

2008-09 season salary: $500,000

Summary
When Gainey did not offer qualifying contracts to 4 of the 9 RFAs, he had good reason. None of them really showed any sort of skill worthy of the NHL. The big boys Plekanec (C) and Latendresse (RW) will return to Montreal - I can't see any team offering them more to play somewhere else. And since they are both home grown boys, I expect they would like to remain where they are comfortable.

All the RFAs will see action for the team this year except maybe Stewart (LW). I am still wanting to know the real reason why he was offered a contract and my only guess can be depth because Montreal Canadiens lack left winger prospects.

Of the 8.8 million cap space remaining, about 5 million will be used to re-sign these players. Leaving 3.8 million as a cushion incase a good trade comes up or for next year's cap decrease. I can't see Gainey offering any of the players much of a raise (maximum 10%).

From my calculations in Part 1, Gainey was looking to sign at least 4 players to max the minimum roster requirement and here he has 5 new signings. While the UFAs were worth less than their 2008-09 salaries, the Montreal Canadiens RFAs are worth just right.

Sources
RFA List. http://espn.go.com/nhl/freeagents/_/oldteam/mon
RFA Salaries. http://www.sportscity.com...-agents-by-team/#Montreal Canadiens
Qualifying Offers. http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=283238

Written on Wednesday, July 8, 2009
July 8, 2009 7:49 PM ET | Delete
its gonna take more like 7 million, Pleky 2.8, Latendresse 1.7, D'Ags 1.2, Stewart 0.7, Chipchura 0.6
July 8, 2009 7:53 PM ET | Delete
I doubt any of them will get those amounts. Probably why Pleks went for arbitration because Gainey won't offer him more than the basic raise. Another team has to come around and offer these players more for Montreal to match a raise. If no one comes, then it would be foolish for Gainey to raise above their 2009 market value.
July 9, 2009 12:45 AM ET | Delete
We have to little money , and to many players to still re-sign. We are officialy in a tight spot.
July 9, 2009 10:03 AM ET | Delete
RFAs will be what we sign. Cheaper than seasoned players.
July 10, 2009 11:20 PM ET | Delete
Deals in the works ladies and gents.... its the only thing that makes sense
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