Is Stastny Underperforming?

There have been some grumblings and mumblings around the comments section here at MHH about Paul Stastny needing to step up and contribute more to the success of the team.  People have opined that he isn't earning his $6.6 million contract (FYI, all of the contracts I'm discussing are in terms of cap hit, not year-by-year payouts). I've had SoS on my keeper league roster for a couple of seasons now and have a fairly good grasp of his statistical value, so I figured I'd take a closer look at his performance and compare it to his contemporaries.

First up, how is he looking in terms of career track: 

2006-2007: 28 goals, 50 assists in 82 games for a 0.951 PPG average.

2007-2008: 24 goals, 47assists in 66 games for a 1.076 PPG average.

2008-2009: 11 goals, 25 assists in 45 games for a 0.8 PPG average.

Those three seasons average out to an average of 0.959 PPG or 0.33 goals per game and 0.63 assists per game.

This season: 10 goals, 35 assists in 49 games for a 0.918 PPG average (0.2 goals per game and 0.71 assists per game).

This projects out to about 17 goals and 59 assists for the season. That would put his season PPG at 0.927.  Perhaps a tick off of his career average, but he'd set a new personal best for assists if that projection holds up. Assuming (for the sake of argument) that his season ends with that 0.927 PPG, that would be about $87k per point.  That's a purely stats and cash analysis which has none of his intangibles, like his ability to elevate the play of any warm body put on his line, his two-way play, or the fact that he has taken more face-offs than anybody in the league.

Now let's see how he stacks up against his contemporaries...

Stastny currently ranks 14th among NHL centermen for points.  In order to keep this to a truly contemporary argument, let's compare him to other centers within 2 years of his age with 3-5 years of full-time NHL experience.  SoS is a spry 24 years of age with three previous NHL seasons under his belt.  Here's how the short list looks:

Rank
Player
Age
Years
of Exp.
Cap Hit
($millions)
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PPG
$k/PT (82)
3 Sidney Crosby 22 4 9 49 30 27 57 11 1.163 94
9 Anze Kopitar 22 3 6.8 48 19 27 46 2 0.958 87
10
Ryan Getzlaf 24 3 5.33 45 12 34 46 1 1.022 64
12 Nathan Horton 24 4 4 49 16 29 45 2 0.918 53
13 Mikko Koivu 26 4 3.25 50 14 31 45 -3 0.900 4
14 Paul Stastny 24 3 6.6 49 10 35 45 11 0.918 87
15 Evgeni Malkin 23 3 9 43 14 30 44 3 1.023 107
16 Stephen Weiss 26 5 3.1 48 19 23 42 -5 0.875 43
17 Ryan Kesler 25 4 1.75 48 13 29 42 1 0.875 24
19 Mike Richards 24 4 5.75 47 19 21 40 3 0.851 82
21 Jeff Carter 25 4 5 47 17 22 39 -2 0.830 73
26 Matt Stajan
26 5 1.75 49 14 22 36 -3 0.735 29
27 Travis Zajac
24 3 3.89 47 13 23 36 12 0.766 62
29 Derek Roy
26 4 4 45 11 25 36 3 0.800 61
30 Brooks Laich
26 4 2.07 48 13 21 34 3 0.708 36

 

All the cap hit numbers were taken from nhlnumbers.com. The first thing that jumps out on SoS's statline in comparison to the other inhabitants of this list is his assists (1st).  The second is his plus/minus (tied for 2nd). His 10 goals are the lowest among his contemporaries, but outside of Crosby, nobody has cracked 20 goals so it's not a huge distraction.  One or two posts go the other way and he's right in the thick of things.  The dollars-per-point over the course of an 82-game season column (the last one) shows that the Avalanche are getting pretty decent value for their buck when compared to some of the guys above and below Stastny on the list. However, comparing his production vs. salary to guys like Koivu, Zajac, and Laich (career high of 67, 62, and 53 points respectively), Crosby (generational talent making mad $$), or Richards (retarded infinity contract to spread out the cap hit) isn't necessarily apples-to-apples. So let's look closer at Kopitar, Kesler, Weiss, and Horton ( players with similar PPG rates this season). 

Stastny matches up almost 1-to-1 with Kopitar in the value department. Kopitar's career PPG to this point is 0.88 compared to SoS's 0.95 so I'd give the edge to Paul if I had to pick.  The Panthers appear to be getting excellent value from Horton and Weiss.  However, Horton has career high in points is 62, Weiss' is 61 and the Panthers haven't seen the playoffs since the last time the Sooners won a National Championship, so maybe there should be more qualifications for 'value.' Their career PPG's also pale when compared to Stastny's (0.697 for Horton and 0.592 for Weiss).  Kesler follows the same trend with good value, but a career PPG of 0.495 to this point and he's the second best center on his team.

The elephant in the room is Getzlaf.  With a career PPG of 0.924, the Ducks are seeing redunkulous value per point for his efforts. Nothing else to say here.  He's a good player. Damn good.

Taking all of the above into consideration, I personally think Son of Stastny is having a pretty good year.  He's had rotating linemates yet still manages to produce (1st on the team in points; 3rd in shots, PP production, and +/-; and best faceoff numbers).  He hasn't set the world aflame with powerplay production, but since nobody in the organization has a clue what one of those looks like for the last 3 years, I'm willing to give him a pass.  He's playing a larger role in the team's offense and defense and seems to have broken that nasty habit of blocking shots with breakable parts of his body. He's not truly overpaid compared to his contemporaries, but rather is being paid what the market has basically set as his value. All-in-all, I believe he's the best player on the team and has been playing like it over the course of the season. Thoughts?

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