There are very few bargains in the world of tough minutes, and even fewer in the world of outscoring tough minutes. "Just get a checking center to play the tough minutes" is something that you'd hear in a discussion on the topic, usually from a person that doesn't want to see their team play talent against toughs. "Checking centers" don't grow on trees - there are eight of them total that can outscore. And they are expensive. Even the centers that are playing the toughs and not outscoring are going to average north of $4 million for 09/10.
There is a weird argument that comes up, mostly in Shawn Horcoff discussions, from time to time. That is, get a lower level "second-toughs" guy on the cheap and make him play the tough minutes, that way, you can pay a less-complete scorer to play the second toughs and run roughshod. Presto! Shawn Horcoff is overpaid.
From the last post, we know that there are a scant few tough minutes outscorers, though Shawn Horcoff IS one of them. I decided to take a look at the second toughs guys.
Here is the raw data, sorted by goal differential/15:
There are 25 guys in the "second-toughs" crew and 15 of them outscore. Their average salary this year was $2,908,800 and next year's average is $3,296,000 with eight free agents in the group. The conclusion? Once again, these fellas are rare. They are expensive, considering their second fiddle status, and they are a highly-desired commodity.
So much of what fans think and say and argue is perception bias, and it's no different when it comes to guys that play tough minutes. Saying things like "just pick up a center than can play the toughs to a draw", implying a flippant tone, is nothing short of hockey insanity. These players are rare and valuable and not easy to find for any price, let alone find easily.