How does a team know their investment will pay off? Better yet, What would inspire a team to devote a large percentage of their cap space to one single player? This article plans on analyzing the production from “top-tier” forwards based on a seven million dollar cap hit or higher.
As of this writing there are 14 forwards making this salary or higher, with most of these players filling the scorecard adequately. These 14 forwards discussed are Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Alexander Ovechkin, Scott Gomez, Evgeni Malkin, Vincent Lecavalier, Thomas Vanek, Dany Heatley, Chris Drury and Eric Staal.
A quick glance at this list screams Drury and Gomez as the noticeable busts. Coming into a weak free agent year for centers the two cashed in on GM Glen Sather’s ludacris spending. However, a deeper look into their 2009-2010 season makes other players current production look similarly as bad.
In addition, this article will identify the best of the bunch showing exactly if and why the top salaries are actually worth it. Impending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk believes his worth to be 20 percent of the current cap, an enormous 11 plus million cap hit. With his current production, not to mention countless intangibles would you consider the 27-year-old worth it?
Similar to our first Cost Efficiency article discussing the value of Rich Peverley amongst others, we use our points-per-cap-hit or PPC to measure the value of each player discussed. PPC simply measures the money paid by the team for every point scored, so the lower the number the better. Of those listed, here are our top five picks for most cost efficient point producers thus far.
As you can see Big Joe leads the scoring race and thus the PPC race. At a more than reasonable 7.2 million rate, the veteran center proved his contract extension to be more than worth it. In addition, Sather proved his signing of Gaborik to be rather beneficial to his team.
Health plays a strong contributing factor to these ratios as the more time missed means less points put up, explaining how much it hurts for a team to miss their top player.
Looking at those numbers reveals an incredible disparity from the lower end of the PPC race. The top five producers above show leaps and bounds why they are stars and the following are busts.
So maybe we lied. A little. By all accounts Drury’s play invokes nothing positive, even with his impressive resume and general “winning” ability. As the old saying goes, “Past performance is no indication of future return.” Regardless, due to injury and ineffectiveness Staal, Vanek and Spezza enter the bust category. I doubt one would put those players in the same category as the two Ranger flops when the season began.
So in short, Thornton worth it and Drury not, but is Thornton the best playmaker of the bunch? The answer is yes, and by a large margin.
The healthy and returned to form Richards comes in a not-so-close second while both Lecavalier and Gaborik surprisingly carry more assists than those two centers in Pittsburgh. In this light Lecavalier looks like less of an albatross while Gaborik shows his worth in more than one aspect. Higher salaries combined with Malkin missing a few weeks and Crosby becoming more of a scorer allows them to fall further down this list than expected.
Speaking of Gaborik, Would it surprise you that he is the most efficient scorer? The 27-year-old sits directly middle of the 14 with a 7.5 million cap hit yet he leads the League in scoring as of this writing. Other top scorers include:
Heatley comes in at second in the League in goal scoring and in cost-per-goal analysis, a mirror image of one another. Iginla quietly maintains a stand in the goal scoring race with Crosby and Ovy bringing up the rear.
So in short, we learned a few things. Yes Drury and Gomez make way too much money, but Spezza and Vanek sport questionable salaries as well if they continue their lackadaisical play. Staal while battling injuries continues to disappoint in Carolina forcing Paul Maurice to move him off his natural position to left wing. For this year, I feel Staal simply has no business taking 8.25 million of cap space and his injury and ineffectiveness combined with a long term injury to Cam Ward hampered almost all hope of a postseason berth.
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