Going into the 2014/15 season the Oilers have the potential for some legitimate value contracts (contracts under $1M including bonuses) on the roster. A quick look at capgeek.com shows us that the Oilers have 6 players that meet the under $1M criteria but not all contracts are equal. The list of all players earning less than $1M is Jesse Joensuu ($950K), Luke Gazdic ($800K), Mark Arcobello ($600K), Anton Lander ($600K), Keith Aulie ($800K) and Martin Marincin ($730K base + $140K in bonuses). Originally I included Nail Yakupov in the mix but based on his bonus structure if he was to hit the "value" numbers his bonuses would kick in and could potentially end up making $3.775M which would disqualify him from this exercise.
After comparing all of the players, and their overall potential, the final list of value contracts included Martin Marincin, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander. Although Lander's value may be more about who he keeps off the roster than his overall contribution to scoring but it is value nonetheless.
Martin Marincin ($730,000 + $140,000 bonuses)
Marincin has only played 44 NHL games in total; quite a small sample size but it's all we really have to work with so it will have to do.
Using game data from Extra Skater I broke Marincin's season down into two 15 game chunks and one 14 game chunk.
|Games||TOI||Corsi For||Corsi Against||CF%||RelCorsi||ZS||QoC||QoT|
These are pretty decent numbers for a rookie, maybe not stellar but as a rookie the numbers are pretty decent. His most common defensive parter was Jeff Petry they played nearly all of Marincin's minutes together (528/687) and when paired with Petry, Petry's numbers got better as well. His next most common defensive partner was Justin Schultz who also improved when paired with Marincin. The other thing that is noticible is that as Marincin's TOI increased his corsi really started to drop even though he was getting more OZ starts but even so his RelCorsi was still able to stay in the positive which is still pretty good for a rookie.
The hope is that Marincin improves on the numbers he produced this year. Marincin isn't going to be a major point producer but the hope that his 47.5 CF% can improve to 50% or higher isn't a stretch. If he can become that type of defenseman then his contract will bring real tangible value.
Mark Arcobello ($600,000)
Arcobello is another player that only has less than 45 NHL games under his belt. He played 41 games this season with the Oilers before being sent back to the AHL. Many of the Arcobello fans were worried that after the Oilers reassigned Acrobello to the OKC Barons that his time in with the Oilers was over since he needed another 30+ games played in the NHL or he would become a UFA. Luckily on March 31, 2014 the Oilers surprised us by signing the small winger/centre to a 1 year one-way deal worth $600K.
I was going to do a similar break down of Acrobello as I did with Marincin but thanks to Woodguy, who did a fantastic job (and better than I would've) of breaking down Arcobello's season over on Lowetide's blog, I didn't have to do the breakdown. As pointed out in the Woodguy article, if Arcobello is kept away from Gruesome Gazdic he can really have some value and the higher up he plays in the line up the better Arcobello does. With the current roster there is a chance that Arcobello plays in a 2C role with Pouliot/Perron/Yakupov on his wing. With Gazdic likely to miss the first month of the season due to injury there is an even better chance for Arcobello, and the Oilers, to succeed.
This simple $600K contract for a small centre may be the best value contract the Oilers have had in while and is probably the best value contract they will have going forward.
Anton Lander ($600,000)
Anton Lander has had a tough time converting his AHL & SEL numbers into NHL success. It could be because he's played the majority of his NHL career in the bottom 6 or it could be that he just can't elevate his game to a NHL level. He is nowhere near the strongest skater on the team but as a 4th line player he brings more to the table than some of the guys currently filling that role.
Lander's NHL numbers are pretty ugly and there is really no reason to break them down but if you want a reference here is the data from Extra Skater.
If Lander can find a way to elevate his game and produce like he has in the AHL then maybe his contract is true a value but even if he just performs a 4th line role he is still an improvement from some of the plugs clogging that line today. No matter how you look at it $600K on a guy with potential upside is better than $800K for a guy that can only drag his knuckles and punch faces. Replacing the current 4th line plugs could be where Lander's real value comes in. Once again he may be a player that benefits from Gazdic's early absence.
Value contracts are tough to gauge. Usually players making less thank $1M per year are fringe players at best and unless they have a breakout season their value will never actually be realized. This is a true wait and see situation and we won't really know until closer to December if these players really have value.