Of course Woywitka won’t be expected to replace Staal. He was signed to give Tortorella veteran depth. He will be expected to play a solid 13-15 minutes per night on the third pair and provide a better alternative than either Brendan Bell or Stu Bickel. The question is what exactly do we have in Woywitka? Was Woywitka the best option for the Rangers? Veterans like Paul Mara and Bryan McCabe remain unsigned. Is Woywitka better than those options? What can we expect from Woywitka while he is in the lineup? Let’s see if the advanced stats can give us a probable answer to those queries.
For those who watched the Rangers in Europe this past weekend, it’s abundantly clear this team needs to stay out of the penalty box. Because of that I included the Relative Penalties Taken/Drawn Per 60 along with the usual suspects of advanced stats for this comparison. We’ve already concluded defensemen are more likely to take more infractions than they will draw but the better the differential the more it will benefit the team.
Mara’s numbers also appear to be sliding which could be an indication of a decline. It looks like Woywitka is not only the better player at this point but probably came cheaper in terms of salary cap hit.
McCabe has posted superior Relative Corsi Ratings to Woywitka with comparable or slightly better Ozone % and QUALCOMP numbers. Of course McCabe isn’t getting any younger or faster on the ice and considering he is/was coming off a deal which paid him in excess of $5 million per season, he likely wasn’t going to sign for anything close to the $600.000 Woywitka will account for. Besides, we’ve sailed the McCabe ship and it was generally rough seas for Rangers fans. It seems a smarter move to go with Woywitka.
I was curious how Woywitka measured up against Steve Eminger, a player most Rangers fans were satisfied with as a 6th/7th defenseman last season. Here are Eminger’s results in the same stats included in the tables above.
I also took a look at each player’s GVT for the last three seasons to see how Hockey Prospectus’ player evaluation metric valued each player.
I’ve even gone a step further with this analysis and included some “quasi-scouting reports,” from THN. Here’s what THN had to say about Woywitka, Eminger and Mara respectively. Yes, I know THN isn’t the most appreciated site out there but it does contain volumes of information.
- ASSETS: Has great size and strength. Displays a nice all-around package. Can produce points at lower levels.
FLAWS: Struggles with confidence issues at the NHL level. Lacks defensive polish and makes too many mistakes with the puck.CAREER POTENTIAL: Depth defenseman.
- ASSETS: Has great tools. Displays plenty of two-way acumen, as well as tremendous size for the blue-line position.
- FLAWS: Needs to shoot the puck more often in order to maximize his scoring potential. Must limit critical errors in the defensive zone.
- CAREER POTENTIAL: Inconsistent defenseman.
- ASSETS: Has the size teams look for in a blue-liner and he skates well for a big man. Is effective on either side of the ice. Can clear the front of the net.
- FLAWS: Isn't very polished in the defensive zone and prone to making bad decisions from time to time. Will at times take bad penalties that hurt his team.
- CAREER POTENTIAL: Veteran depth defenseman.
- ASSETS: Can log an abundance of minutes and feasts on the power play. Is extremely aggressive in the defensive zone. Has a great shot from the point and displays a lot of leadership qualities.
- FLAWS: Has a propensity to make mistakes in the defensive zone and take too many bad penalties. Can be distracted by criticism when he struggles in pressure situations.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Veteran big-minute, power-play defenseman and leader.
At the end of the day Woywitka represents a low upside, low risk move to add depth. He won’t hurt the club if he is utilized carefully. Considering the probable disparity in cost versus production, Woywitka looks like the wise move for the Rangers even if he doesn’t necessarily impress us fans on the ice.