The GM's Hat-trick: A Trade, A Signing and A Waiver Claim
It's been a busy 72 hours for Vancouver Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis. Late Saturday night news broke that the Canucks had acquired forwards Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Walsh from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2014 4th Round Draft Pick and forward Kellan Tochkin. Then yesterday at around noon local time, Jannik Hansen's new 4 year contract extension worth 10 million dollars was made official. And today, the team claimed defensemen Ryan Stanton.
Now what do we make all of this? Who is Zac Dalpe, is there more than meets the eye and how valuable is a 4th round pick really? Is Jannik Hansen's contract a tad high for him or a great value? Who is this Ryan Stanton kid and what effect does he have on the defensive depth chart? You've got questions? Well I'v got answers...
First off, I'm not going to bother wasting your time by writing a bunch of lines talking about Jeremy Walsh and Kellan Tochkin. Both were undrafted rookie free agent signings and haven't showed much progress in their development since Junior/College and there chances of even playing in a single NHL game are pretty much slim to none at this point. Apparently Gillis wanted to sign Walsh but lost out to the Canes, but I don't see anything exciting about him other than him being a big guy(6'3-210).
As for Zac Dalpe, he's a former 2nd round pick of the Hurricanes in the 2008 NHL entry draft, selected 45th overall. The quick scouting report on him is that he's a 23 year old winger/center that has decent size(6'1, 195 pounds) and speed. He's been a prolific goal scorer and point producer at the NCAA and AHL level with 68 goals and 70 assists and 148 points in 180 games.
According to various scouting reports and Hurricane fans he also has a good wrist shot and decent puck handling ability and his weaknesses are consistency and defensive play. He's mainly played the wing, but it sounds like the Canucks might want to have him potentially play center as well depending on how things shake out.
Where Canes fans seem to disagree is whether or not Dalpe was given a fair shot or enough of an opportunity with the big club. He's played in 41 games total over the past 3 seasons and scored 5 goals and 5 assists, a 10 goal/10 assist/20 point full season pace. And he's also averaged pretty much a hit per game
so while he's not overly physical, he's not a softie either. Apparently the Canes either wanted him to win a job on a scoring line as a winger otherwise he didn't have a place on the team as they didn't like his defensive play enough to use him on a an energy or checking line. By all indications he was about be waived, but was shopped around first and who knows if other teams offered up picks or would have claimed him. Dalpe played 10 games last season and as you can see below he performed okay, but was given very sheltered minutes:
The more blue(or dark blue) the player's bubble, the better they played and the more toward brown-orange was the worse they played(dark brown being the worst). The further right means the more of his zone starts came on the offensive end. And the higher the player's bubble is indicates better competition faced(highest bubbles of players faced opposing first lines and vice-versa).
The other interesting note is that Dalpe's career NHL shooting percentage is just 9.3% which is around average but you could say that he's had some bad luck since he's known to have a good wrist shot and to be an offensive player.
Also he and his common linemates last year probably looked a lot worse offensive than they were which might have caused him to disappoint and fall out of favour. The Hurricanes had a ridiculously low 4.3% shooting percentage when he was on the ice, more than twice below the league average and to make things worse the Hurricane goaltenders had an atrocious .853% save percentage when Dalpe was on the ice.
That's some really bad luck and undoubtedly made Dalpe look worse than he was. If those percentages were average or even lucky and positive I bet Dalpe would have been though of a bit more highly by the Carolina coaching staff and management.
As for the 4th round pick, we can really only speculate about how much value it really has. I always find it funny when people compare the player drafted with the pick to the player the pick was traded for. Who's to say that the player the Hurricanes will draft(if they keep the pick) would be the same one that the Canucks would have chosen? According to studies, since 30 team expansion 7.7% of players drafted in the NHL go on to play at least 50 NHL games in their careers.
Draft picks are lottery tickets so of course having more is better, but trading one away for a young player that was drafted higher and is someone that you like is not a bad move at all. And accoridng to Gillis the Canucks have liked Dalpe for awhile:
"We definitely acquired depth. Zac Dalpe (C/RW) is a player we've been tracking for a couple of years."
- Mike Gillis
But of course that could just be typical GM speak. And Canuck fans have a right to be sceptical about the Canucks AHL/NHL pro scouting department, you know..the same guys that recommended signing Cam freakin' Barker!
Overall, I like the move, Dalpe was a 2nd round pick so clearly there's some upside there and I prefer players who can play, even if they lack toughness or two-way play in my bottom 6 lineup over players who are liabilities on the ice(Tom Sestito). The numbers suggest that Dalpe is due for some better luck and results at the NHL level.
The Contract Extension
The Jannik Hansen contract is terrific value, I wouldn't go as far to say that it's a steal but Hansen's value and contribution to the Canucks is very significant and important and he's produced fairly well and his last contract at under 1.5 million per was a huge steal for the Canucks and his new one may just end up being the same if he can continue to evolve offensively and is given a top 6 role and/or sees PP time. Last season, outside of the Twins and Burrows: Kesler, Hansen, Higgins and Roy faced the next toughest competition among Canuck forwards. Roy outperformed the others(despite being misused by AV, and the graph below shows that he was in fact being misused as a defensive center), but that's a blog for another day.
As with the first graph the more blue(or dark blue) the player's bubble, the better they played and the more toward brown-orange was the worse they played(dark brown being the worst and dark blue being the best,). Despite being used in a similar fashion, Hansen outplayed Higgins and was similar to Ryan Kesler. Calling Hansen the 5th best forward on the team at 5 on 5 last year is fair. Now here's where the contract really starts to look good:
At 5-on-5, he's absolutely a top-6 forward. He was 52nd in the NHL in ES points last year more or as many even strength points last year as Zetterberg, Benn, Carter, Elias, Ryan, Couture, etc.
Not too bad, eh? To be fair, the team's shooting % with Hansen on the ice was a bit lucky and inflated last year at even strength at 10.8% so he should cool off of that pace this year.
Bottom line, at worse Hansen is a very good 3rd line winger and at the age of 27 years, a 4 year contract at 2.5 million per for a very good third line winger is pretty good value.
The Waiver Claim
And to complete his General Manager's hat-trick today, Mike Gillis claimed 24 year old defensemen Ryan Stanton off of waivers from the defending champion and hated rival Chicago Blackhawks. Stanton was one of Chicago's final cuts in camp, which isn't a bad thing considering the Hawks depth on the blue line. He fell to #9 on the depth chart behind the likes of Mike Kostka and Sheldon Brookbank after a shaky camp and pre-season. Scouting reports from Hawks fans suggest that he's a physical, stay-at-home, defensive d-man with limited offensive abilities, that loves to block shots(John Tororella!), and projects to be a decent 6-7 defensemen in the NHL.
He's played a big role in the AHL rivalry between the Blackhawks affiliate Rockford IceHogs and former Canucks affiliate team Chicago Wolves. He's a good teammate and not afraid to drop the gloves and come to the aid of a teammate in a scrum. Sounds like one of those guys that you hate to play against, but love to have on your own team as a player. He's also been named the IceHogs best defensemen the past 2 season
s and at 24 years he's not a horrible player to take a chance on as a depth player.
What's interesting now is that John Totorella prefers only 7 defensemen on the roster and 14 forwards and this leaves the Canucks with 8, and the 3 depth guys are Yannick Weber, Andrew Alberts and of course Ryan Stanton. Weber is a right-handed shot and a different player than Stanton and Alberts, more offensive, skilled and not as physical or solid defensively. Alberts and Stanton are very alike, and with Alberts' terrible showing this pre-season I'm guessing the he might be getting waived pretty soon unless there's an injury on defense that we're unaware about.
Not a season-changing move here, I doubt we Stanton in the lineup too often when everyone is healthy, except for maybe when Torts doesn't mind playing a d-man on his off-side and wants Stanton in the lineup against bigger, more physical teams. I'm still betting my money on Frankie Corrado working his way back onto the main roster at some point this season and claiming his spot as the #6 defensemen.
*Note*, I figured out the comment system, just avoid any punctuation outside of commas and periods and it should work for ya. Thanks for reading as always!