In the era of the salary cap, a GM can't be judged based only on his players performance, sans them winning the organization a Stanley cup. Rather, each player selection whether it be via draft, trade or free agency, is judged based on the players performance relative to their own contract, to their peers and their contracts, and to the overall market place throughout the contract.
Since arriving in St. Louis in the failed Miller trade, there seems to be a lot of debate in the forums about Steve Ott. Ott seems like a bit of a polarizing figure with opposing fans considering him a borderline dirty player who will do anything to help his team win while creating vast difference of opinions among Blues fans. Many Blues fans find him an entertaining player who will do whatever is asked of him to help his team win. Some of the Blues fan question how Coach Hitchcock utilizes Ott, moving him up and down the lineup.
So what has Ott meant to the Blues since his arrival? It certainly hasn't been contributing offense as he has yet to get on the scoreboard and has managed only 6 assists in 38 games played, a whopping 13 point pace for a full season. As we all realize, the value of a player isn't measured only in points and Ott does bring other skills and talents to the organization.
Ott is leading the team in average short handed ice time per game (for forwards), at over two minutes, very similar to his role in the playoffs at the end of last year when he averaged the second most short handed minutes per game on forwards on the team, slightly being edged out by Max Lapierre who barely trails him this year.
Last year, Ott was very impressive in the regular season and playoffs in the face off circle, winning nearly 60% of his draws in a Blues uniform. His face off prowess has taken a hit this year, falling below 53%. Currently, Ott sits behind Lapierre and newcomer Jori Lehtera in the face off circle. Lapierre and Lehtera are in the top six of the entire NHL in face off percentage (for those with 50 or more attempts).
What many people may not know is that Ott ranks 8th out of the Blues forwards in overall ice time per game this season, ahead of Paul Stastny and that Ott ranked 6th in last year's playoffs. While he is 8th in average ice time, he is 13th in average points per game among Blues forwards. What may surprise you even more is that he is averaging almost a minute of power play time per game though he has yet to record a single power play point.
Ott leads a penalty kill unit that was impressive in last year's playoffs but has struggled this year, going from 4th of 16 to 25th of 30. Ott is a combined -15 in plus minus since arriving though has improved to even this year.
When looking at relative value, let's start with comparing Ott to Max Lapierre. Lapierre shares similar short handed ice time per game but averages two and a half to over three minutes total less ice time per game. Even though he gets significantly less ice time, Lapierre has more goals, more assists and a better plus minus that Ott while posting similar face off statistics. In addition, his cap hit is $1.5 million less than Ott's ($2.6 million vs $1.1 million).
In looking at other relative value, look to guys like Jay Mcclement, at $1 million a year, Max Talbot at $1.75 million, Manny Malholtra at $850,000, and Daniel Winnik at $1.3 million.
So what does it all mean? To me, it means that I can appreciate what Ott brings to a team but I can't commend Armstrong for the contract he handed Ott nor Hitchcock for the extra ice time he seems to desire giving to Ott. Can you really allow almost $5 million of salary tied up on your fourth line and penalty kill line in the salary cap era? I'm not sure that is a great idea at all.