Oilers Free Agent Target - Daniel Winnik

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 03: Goaltender Jeff Deslauriers #38 of the Edmonton Oilers is unable to stop a goal shot by Daniel Winnik #34 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the second period of the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on April 3, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With all of the major Canadian sports networks prepping for their big "Free Agent Frenzy" on July 1st, we here at C&B are looking over the laundry list of available players to find those who should be of interest to the Edmonton Oilers this summer.

After the jump, I will take a look at Daniel Winnik of the San Jose Sharks.

Daniel Winnik is a 27 year old LW. He is a big body... 6'2" and 210 lbs. Winnik was originally drafted by Phoenix in the 9th round (265th overall) of the 2004 draft (back when they had that many rounds), so just by making it to the NHL, he has beaten the odds to a degree.

Thus far in his career, Winnik has been a very durable player. In his four NHL seasons he has played in at least 74 games 3 times. The fourth season he played in 49 games, but the missing games appear to be mostly related to a young player being in and out of the line-up as he is only listed as having missed 6 games due to injury that year.

This past season he actually played in 84 games after starting the season with Colorado before being moved to the Sharks at the deadline.

Winnik is described as one of those "gritty" players...you know, the guys with "heart". Basically what that means is that he's a guy who by appearance brings his effort every night and goes into the areas where guys get roughed up in order to fight for the puck. All nice things and certainly bringing those qualities to Edmonton would be nothing but a positive considering their diminutive crop of forwards, but at the end of the day what matters most is if he brings a skill set that the Oilers need and if he can help them win games. Let's look at that now...

Winnik's season this year was split due to his trade at the deadline, which makes getting a read on exactly how he was used a little difficult as both teams could have used him in different roles which wouldn't stand out clearly in his aggregate stats. However, most of his stats are within the same ballpark over the last couple of seasons, so I think it is safe to say that these numbers are fairly representative of who he is as a player.

Quality of Competition/Corsi:

(All numbers from the incomparable Gabe Desjardins' site behindthenet.ca)

In 2011/12, Winnik finished the season having faced the 5th toughest level of competition among San Jose Sharks forwards. Not bad for a player who plays primarily a checking role.

RK

SEASON

POS

GP

TOI/60

Corsi QoC

Corsi Relative

1

MARTINHAVLAT

RW

39

14.32

1.786

0.4

2

JOEPAVELSKI

LW

82

15.27

1.15

11.1

3

PATRICKMARLEAU

C

82

15.19

1.04

8.1

4

JOETHORNTON

C

82

15.37

0.977

14.9

5

DANIELWINNIK

LW

84

13.7

0.907

3.9

6

LOGANCOUTURE

C

80

14.15

0.85

10.6

Winnik's Corsi relative to his competition isn't as strong as some of those listed in the table, but considering the offensive roles those players play on the Sharks, I think that is understandable. A +3.9 is still a very reasonable number for a player in a role like Winnik. It should also be pointed out that, considering he played 63 of his 84 games (or exactly 75%) of his season with the Avalanche, that if you take these numbers and insert them into the same list for Colorado players, that Winnik's QoC would come out as the toughest on the entire forward roster.

Zone Start/Finish:

So, having established that Winnik appears to be able to keep his head above water versus some significant competition, let's take a look at how he was utilized by his coaches with regard to zone starts:

RK

NAME

Off Zone Start %

Off Zone Finish %

Zone Start/Finish Differential

1

JOEPAVELSKI

48.6

52

3.4

2

ANDREWDESJARDINS

49.4

52.5

3.1

3

T.J.GALIARDI

46.7

49.4

2.7

4

DOMINICMOORE

42.3

44.9

2.6

5

DANIELWINNIK

46.6

49

2.4

6

JOETHORNTON

49.9

51.2

1.3

7

TORREYMITCHELL

48.1

49.1

1

8

MICHALHANDZUS

46.8

46.7

-0.1

9

PATRICKMARLEAU

54.5

52.7

-1.8

10

BENNFERRIERO

49.8

46.4

-3.4

11

BRADWINCHESTE

54.8

50.8

-4

12

ANDREWMURRAY

61.5

56.6

-4.9

13

LOGANCOUTURE

56.2

50.7

-5.5

14

TOMMYWINGELS

53.9

47.7

-6.2

15

RYANECLOWE

57.2

50.5

-6.7

16

MARTINHAVLAT

55

48.2

-6.8

Once again, by this metric, Winnik comes out looking strong compared to some very good players in San Jose. I have sorted the above table by the Differential column, but it is important to point out that Winnik's zone starts were the second toughest of all of the players on this list. So, despite some tough assignments against significant opposition, over the course of the season he was able to consistently push the play away from his own zone and toward the attacking zone. For a player who isn't in an offensive role, this is about one of the best things you can look for because it demonstrates his ability to limit the opposition's scoring chances.

If we take another look at how this stat compares to those of the Avalanche players, Winnik once again looks even stronger. His zone start would have again been the 2nd most difficult (behind Jay McClement), while posting the 2nd best ZS/ZF Differential on the team again behind McClement and his rather spectacular +13.2. I should also note that in 2010/11, despite a zone start % of 42.2% over 80 games, Winnik's offensive zone finish was a very impressive 52.3% (+10.1) on a team that finished 29th.

Shot Rate/60:

Because this post is getting longer than originally planned, I will spare everyone the tables here. To quickly summarize the importance of this stat...Vic Ferrari's work on the correlation between shot differential and scoring chances tell us that teams who consistently outshoot their opponents end up with more scoring chances over 90% of the time, which, over the long haul lead to more goals and more wins. To put it bluntly, the Edmonton Oilers suck by this metric.

The Oilers have been near the bottom of the league for the last few years in shot differential, so adding players who generate shots would be helpful. Daniel Winnik's shot rate per 60 minutes of ice time at even strength in 2011/12 was 7.87. While this would only have been good for 10th among SJS forwards, the Sharks are consistently near the top of the league in shot differential. His shot rate would have placed him 5th on Avs, or, perhaps more importantly, would have been good for 4th on the Oilers last year. The shocking part, is that the three people who shoot more often than Winnik are Taylor Hall (no surprise...he is a god), Magnus Paajarvi, and Darcy Hordichuck. That's right, Winnik's shot rate that was near the bottom of the Sharks roster eclipsed the rates of five of the Oilers' top six forwards last year (he barely edged out Jordan Eberle). Winnik's 184 shots this season would place him 3rd on the team behind Hall and Ryan Smyth.

Situational TOI:

The last thing to look at with this player is how he was used in different situations throughout his career. Here is an overview of the player's TOI numbers for the last two seasons:

Year

5v5/60

5v4/60

4v5/60

Team

Team PK Rank

2011/12

13.70

0.32

2.42

COL/SJS

9th/2nd

2010/11

13.2

0.33

2.68

COL

11th

Winnik has been used in a bottom-six role at even strength, (although he does still take a significant amount of tough minutes), but has been a horse on the penalty kill. He led his team in PK TOI/60 this season and was just behind Jay McClement's 2.73 with Colorado in 2010/11. He has been unquestionably considered a first option penalty killer with both teams, and it is important to note the success those teams have had 4v5. Winnik has played a key role on some very successful penalty killing units, which is something every team can find value in.

Conclusion:

In summary, I think it goes without saying that this is a player that could absolutely bring value to the Oilers. He is only 27 and is coming off a season where his cap hit was only $950,000. I would imagine he is due for a raise from that number, but regardless, he is a player the Oilers should have high on their list come Sunday. If the team is unable to bring back Ryan Smyth, or even if they are, this is a role player who can play a significant part in helping the Oilers be competitive next season. He is a much better option than Petrell and Eager at 5v5, a beast at 5v4, he the puck has a way of moving in the right direction when he is on the ice and he generates shots, something the Oilers don't do well at all.

Given his durability, age, and the fact that I expect there is a market for him, I could see the team offering him a 3 year deal in the Ryan Jones type of salary range ($1.2M-1.5M), which I can happily live with if it means saying goodbye to Ben Eager.

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