The Winnipeg Jets overall depth has been getting stronger and deeper every year.
Still, the Jets fourth line has been near comically bad for years. With the exception of some minor time with Jiri Tlusty, Alex Burmistrov, or Kyle Wellwood, the fourth line has consistently garnered below average results.
There are still “moneypuck” type deals out there that could help change this for the Jets.
All images are from http://ownthepuck.blogspot.ca/ and for the last three seasons of data combined.
Position: Centre, Age: 30, last AAV: 1.2M
Marcel Goc is a pretty great defensive player. He does not score very well, in fact his scoring level is exceptionally low. He is however one of the best two-way players in out shooting and out-scoring you can find on fourth lines.
He tilts the ice extremely efficiently for a fourth line player and can be trusted with defensive zone starts without sheltering.
It’s been shown before that players who promote winning through impact on shot differentials (like Corsi) promote winning at a greater dollar efficiency rate than those who promote winning through scoring.
Position: Centre, Age: 27, last AAV: 1.3M
James Sheppard suffers from failed-to-reach-expectations-of-a-first-round-pick-but-still-good-hockey-player-itis. It is a pretty common condition that haunts many quality depth forwards.
Sheppard is not as strong of a shot metric centre as Goc, but he is a more effective source for secondary scoring. Sheppard is a big body but does not play overly physical for a depth forward, often causing fans to be annoyed by his play despite his effectiveness.
Position: LW, Age: 31, last AAV: 2.8M
Sean Bergenheim is still a pretty good player, just not as good as he once was viewed as. He however has moved into underrated territories.
When ever you see players who have a large discrepancies between their Corsi and their goals, you can generally expect goals to regress towards their Corsi numbers. You can also expect to garner good value from the player, as players with low on-ice percentages tend to get undervalued in free agency.
Bergenheim also would be a strong enough player to fill in on the third line if the Jets are unable to fill their remaining top-nine position internally.
Position: LW, Age: 29, last AAV: 2.4M
Tyler Kenedy is another above average fourth line option for left wing, who unfortunately has a bit of an injury history. At the right price he would be worth the investment, especially as the Jets depth would likely improve over the season with the Jets new flood of high-end prospects like Joel Armia and Nic Petan pushing for jobs.
The one thing you should expect though is for Kennedy to not pass. Kennedy often gets slammed for being a “puck hog” but where you end up should matter more than how you get there.
Position: RW, Age: 32, last AAV: 900K
Lee Stempniak would be a fine addition to return to the Jets. Stempniak tends to not cost much but he does have some skill left in him.
Like Sean Bergenheim, Stempniak is a strong enough player to place on your third line, although he is not strong enough to play in the top six for a contending team any more. His expected value exceeds his expected costs and is well worth a re-signing.
Position: RW, Age: 30, last AAV: 1.5M
Eric Fehr could almost be considered “the one that got away” since there were strong suggestions through underlying numbers that he would bounce back after his struggle in 2011-12 with the Winnipeg Jets.
Fehr’s on-ice results have been top level and he could very likely be still good enough for a top-nine role, although there are injury concerns which may lower his price.
There is a slew of talent still out there. Here are only a few names that may be undervalued and are still available. There are other less sexy names like David Booth and David Moss, forwards who would be cheap but still capable of being above average fourth line forwards.
The Jets could be looking at possibly having a few positions filled internally with players like Joel Armia, Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan, and Andrew Copp pushing for roster spots. However, it is better to sign some players and create some internal competition.
Signing a few of these players would create internal competition and allow the Jets to be flexible with their roster.