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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on the worst free agent signing thus far.
The worst signing in terms of player quality was Jack Johnson.
He is, in a word, awful. And that is nothing new; he has been one of the very worst players in the NHL for years now.
Johnson is an inefficient point producer, even when given soft minutes. He struggles breaking the puck out of the zone and in transition. He neuters his own team’s offense when on the ice, and bleeds shots/chances in the defensive zone. He is a poor penalty killer, and he certainly doesn’t belong anywhere near a power play.
It is not an exaggeration to say there is not one area of the game he is even average, let alone anything he excels in.
You could say ‘he’s cheap and only playing 14 minutes a night in sheltered minutes.’ That’s not nothing. That is nearly 25% of the hockey game where you are guaranteed to get poor results.
I mean, he has played 13 NHL seasons and posted a positive goal differential at 5v5 just once (2016-17). His on-ice metrics are consistently terrible across the board.
In every sense of the word, he is an objectively bad NHL player. For the New York Rangers – a team that ranked 31st in attempts against/60 and 30th in expected goals against/60 last season – to think they can be the one to get something positive out of him is mind blogging.
Honorable mentions go to Chris Tanev and Joel Edmundson. Tanev was once a very stout defender but his numbers are heading south in a hurry and he plays a style that does not age well. Giving him a good chunk of money, and term, is risky to say the least. As for Edmundson, I think he is a glorified 3rd pairing defender. He shouldn’t be getting $3.5 million per season.
I think Edmonton might have made one of the best free agent signings in getting Tyson Barrie cheap on a one year deal. I also think they made the worst signing in Mike Smith.
Of the 54 goalies who played at least 1000 minutes last season, Mike Smith ranked 52nd with a 0.900SV%. While the 38 year old netminder had some strong outings for the Oiler last season, most notably early and late in the year, his overall work was mediocre at best. Smith will be 39 years old partway through next season and how many goalies do you know that improve as they approach the ripe age of 40?
Holland did wise to not overpay on any free agents but returning to this dried up well is not a favourable approach either.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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