There’s a tendency to say ‘well the Oilers got Pronger and Peca and then dealt for a bunch of guys at the deadline and Pisani got hot’ and gloss over about 15 other vital things about that team.
One of the most important items is to count the number of players who “covered the bet”, which is to say delivered performances that were worth way more than their sticker price.
Since we’re talking about dollars and cents right now, it might be an excellent time to look back and count the players who were worth more than the cheques paid out in 05-06.
This is in alpha order.
Marc Andre Bergeron ($931k). Bergeron played 1600 minutes in the 05-06 season, 350 of that on the powerplay. He delivered 2.74/60 with the man advantage but was pretty solid at EVs (1/60) and his 15-20-35 for the season was exceptional for the price.
Ales Hemsky ($901,740). Hemsky played 1375 minutes in the 05-06 season, slightly over 400 of them on the powerplay. His PP/60 number (6.17) was very nice, his EV number 2.25 was a little better than he managed this past season (2.09) but that PP number helped him lead the team in scoring (19-58-77) and he delivered 6-11-17 in the playoffs too. A wonderful payoff for less than a million, a season to remember.
Shawn Horcoff ($1M). Horcoff played almost 1600 minutes, almost 300 on the PP and 225 on the PK. I get a bit silly about this guy, but it drives me crazy that some Oiler fans can watch him for 82 games and not see his value. In 05-06 he went 3-3-6 on the PK (about 1.6/60), went 4.82/60 on the PP and then 2.44 at EVs and this was against the other team’s good players. This past season his PP number was almost identical, but his EV number fell off. Lots of people focus on his plus minus total this past season, but half of it came late when they were a mess and as MC pointed out to me he had a terrible number of empty netters this season. I like Shawn Horcoff at 3.6M, you can imagine what I thought of him at 1M.
Fernando Pisani ($611,800). Good grief. As I write this it’s getting depressing. We’re at our fourth name now and the hits just keep on coming. Fernando Pisani is a smart player, and one day when we can measure the game better my guess is Pisani will be one of the players who gets elevated in status. In 05-06 he was excellent in the regular year and ridiculous in the postseason. Pisani played 1100 minutes in 05-06, 150 on the PP. He did a lot of heavy lifting at EVs and still managed to score 1.84/60 (he was 1.39 this past season) and 3.59 on the PP. Pisani was Guy Lafleur in the post season, 14-4-18 in a run I will never forget. At $611,800 he was ridiculous value.
Jarret Stoll ($501,600). Stoll played 1500 minutes in 05-06, 410 on the PP and 200 on the PK. He was a pretty valuable hockey player. On the PP he was 4.53 (4.2 this season) and at EVs he was 2.35 (2.2 this season) on the way to 82gp, 22-46-68 totals. At the price, he was extremely valuable.
Raffi Torres ($875,000). Raffi played 1100 minutes in 05-06, 224 of them on the PP. He’s pretty famous for wandering out there but his results have always been solid. His EV number in 05-06 (2.07) was pretty close to this past season (1.94) and his PP number (2.95) was better than this year (0.40). Torres’ biggest moments in the season came during the playoffs when he made some massive hits (one of which had an impact on the SJS series). At this price, he was a bargain.
These guys, added to Chris Pronger, Ryan Smyth, Steve Staios, Jason Smith, Dwayne Roloson and others meant that the Oilers just had more good players than people expected when the playoffs arrived.
They had luck, they had skill, they had coaching. But they also had 6 guys playing big minutes for low money. How many players like that do you see in the immediate future?