July 16 2013 02:20PM
Eric Tangradi at AHL All-Star Game, 2011. Photo by Bridget Samuels
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has finally made a move, avoiding arbitration with Eric Tangradi by signing the RFA to a 2 year contract worth a total of $1.35M. Tangradi made a minor impact on the scoresheet this past season with the Jets, recording just four points in his 370 minutes of ice. Claude Noel preferred to play James Wright on the 3rd line for much of the year, but Tangradi's late combination with Santorelli and Burmistrov showed that Tangradi can affect the game positively, even if the points didn't flow.
Below some thoughts on Tangradi's place in the lineup and instant analysis on the contract itself.
I suggested a few days ago that Tangradi was due for a raise on his $726K contract should he go to arbitration. This deal is actually a pay cut for the sizeable left winger, earning him $650K this year, and a further $700K next. The key, of course, is that he got a second year - some much coveted job security for a would-be fourth line skater.
For the Jets, the deal is equally shrewd. The dollar figure is not particularly critical given the team's salary cap status, but a value deal was struck nonetheless. More importantly, the deal leaves Tangradi one year short of UFA status, leaving the Jets in control of his contracting rights should he show improvement over the next two seasons.
New Jet Andrew Gordon and Eric Tangradi at AHL All-Star Game in 2011. Photo by Bridget Samuels
It may seem unlikely that Tangradi outgrows his 4th line assignment during the length of this contract given his scoring totals this past season. Still, his possession and territory numbers give us some context to suggest that he may have been unlucky during what was actually his first full season in the NHL.
Playing on the Jets' fourth line this season was a bit of a death knell. The intended 4th line assignment was with Brent Gretzky-emulators Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn, and with Slater's injury only 14 games after Tangradi arrived, things only got worse. Tangradi did get some playing time with world-beater Olli Jokinen (we know how that must have gone from the boxcars), and with the Antropov/Wellwood combo, where his corsi % took a nose dive. None of that was particularly encouraging.
However, Tangradi ended the year with waiver acquisition Mike Santorelli, and whipping-boy Alex Burmistrov, with whom he managed to push the puck the right way without scoring. Burmi's corsi % improved marginally with Tangradi (51.1% to 52.9%), while Santorelli was lost without him (jumping from 47.6% without Tangradi to 58.2% with him). Overall, Tangradi ended the year with an even corsi % (50.1), a positive relative corsi (1.8), and a positive zone finish differential (+3.6%) against other 4th liners (12th easiest QualComp among forwards). He even drew more penalties than he took, which is remarkable for a 4th liner.
The problem? The puck wouldn't go in the damn net. His on-ice shooting % was just 5.26%, and despite amazing possession play with Santorelli, he never once scored a point while Santorelli was on the ice. His goals-for % plummeted to from a respectable 45% to just 17% when with Burmistrov, as well. He wasn't a scoring threat, exactly, by eye or by numbers, but was due a few more points on the year.
The Bottom Line
He's signed to a reasonable contract for a 4th line player, and with better linemates (Matt Halischuk might fit the bill) and a little more luck, Tangradi could surprise with a 20 point season.
When the Jets acquired him from the Penguins, I suggested much the same - that he looked like a player on the cusp of making a step forward. It didn't happen this season. The Jets have re-signed him at a number and term such that he won't be expected or pushed to move beyond an underwhelming 4th liner. Still, I think the 6'4" AHL scoring winger could still surprise in a Jets jersey.
UPDATE: RFA Patrice Cormier Signs
Cormier - acquired in the trade for the now retired Ilya Kovalchuk - was on the game sheet for 10 games this season after Slater was injured and Spencer Machacek traded. Yet Cormier played fewer than 39 minutes of total ice time in the NHL this season, to bring his total to just shy of 300 minutes over three seasons. He's young, but remains an ineffective NHL player on a struggling, non-playoff team, and has yet to earn the trust of coach Claude Noel. His AHL numbers also don't suggest much hope that Cormier becomes an NHL regular before his UFA years, either. There is always the hope that he becomes a bottom-six player with time, but for now, this is a depth signing for the Ice Caps' Top-9. Terms were not released.