Glen Sather may be the most baffling general manager in hockey.
On the one hand, Sather consistently makes some of the most baffling moves out there. Writing this, I was torn which examples to mention; obviously Wade Redden belongs at the front of the list, but there are so many others it’s hard to keep track of them all. Most recently, of course, Sather handed $1.625 million per year for four years to a guy who hasn’t scored in four years.
On the other hand, Sather also has a profound ability to get himself out of ugly moves, or make small but significant signings that improve his team. Making Montreal pay for Scott Gomez so he could sign Marian Gaborik was one, while bringing back Sean Avery on the cheap and signing guys like Martin Biron and Vaclav Prospal to low-dollar contracts were others.
Yesterday, he managed to do two things at once: improve his team in a small but significant way and get out of not one but two poor decisions made previously. Acquiring Todd White from the Atlanta Thrashers for Patrick Rissmiller and Donald Brashear addressed a few problems at once, and did it while also making some sort of sense for the Thrashers.
First off, let’s have a quick glance at Todd White’s up-and-down counting numbers:
There’s some pretty wild fluctuation there; three seasons at a pace between 40 and 55 points, one where he scored 73, and then the disaster that was last season. It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that last season White’s shooting percentage was 7.6% – 41.5% lower than his career average – and that there’s a very, very good chance he’ll bounce back to the 15-20 goal range. It also probably surprises nobody that power play production was a key factor in the spike and decline:
|Season||ES Points||PP Points|
Basically, this is the long way around the fact that Ilya Kovalchuk and power play time handed Todd White a near point-per-game season in 2008-09.
Last season, White played relatively rough minutes, facing middle of the pack opposition while playing with nobodies, and getting lots of defensive zone time too. Despite that, he had a not-bad Corsi rating and a fairly good plus/minus on a pretty bad team, so he can still play the game. Unfortunately, the change in line-mates came about the same year White’s shooting percentage dropped (and no, I wouldn’t be shocked if those things were connected), and offence was a real problem for his line. This led to Atlanta dumping a guy who is still a pretty useful player.
Frankly, I expect White to bounce back to the 40-50 point range in New York, which for what they’re paying him ($2.375 million) is pretty good value. Toss in the fact that he’s not a big liability in other zones and this is a nice acquisition.
What makes it a better deal is the players the Rangers sent the other way. Donald Brashear costs $1.4 million and is on an over-35 contract, meaning that cap hit sticks to his team like glue. This isn’t a big deal in Atlanta, but ti was for the Rangers: Sather had already earmarked that money for his latest enforcing bauble. Going away with Brashear is Patrick Rissmiller, in the third and final year of a one-way deal that pays him $1.0 million annually. Over the first two years of that deal with the Rangers, Rissmiller had played two games in the NHL and 133 in the AHL, so the personification of value for money he isn’t. I expect he gets an NHL job in Atlanta; they’re not overflowing with depth and Rissmiller’s been quality in the AHL for two seasons now.
All things considered, I see the trade this way: the Rangers picked up a useful player signed to a reasonable amount after an off-year, and while they were at it dumped $1.4 million in cap space liability and $2.4 million in wasted dollars. Atlanta meanwhile gets to save themselves some money while helping inflate their total against the cap (a positive for them), at the cost of a useful asset at the point in time where his value is has low as it is likely to go.
In other words, a brilliant move for Sather, and kind of an ugly one for Rick Dudley.