From the Files of the Fiscally Insane: Another Offseason Thought

There was some talk that Phoenix Coyotes free agent blueliner Zbynek Michalek would go to the Ottawa Senators to play with his brother, Milan. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson wrote, “They were teammates on the Czech Olympic team. but they could easily be NHL roomies as well.”

The thought is that Michalek would replace Anton Volchenkov, who is going to command around $5 million a year on the free agent market — something the Senators can’t afford. However, there’s also a possibility Michalek will also price himself out of playing with his brother.

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman writes, “That could be a pretty good replacement for Anton Volchenkov. Word is, however, Michalek is asking for about $4 million US per year.” The cash-strapped Sens will have to pass on that number. ~ ESPN Insider’s NHL Trade Rumors

In the event that Anton Volchenkov bolts via unrestricted free agency, the notion that Milan Michalek’s older brother could be a suitable replacement has been an idea that’s been kicked around the nation’s capital pretty frequently. Here is how their respective numbers break down from this past season:

  • Michalek: 72 GP, 3 G, 14 A, 17 pts, +5, 22:38 TOI/G, 80 hits, 152 blocked shots, 0.102 Quality of competition rating
  • Volchenkov: 64 GP, 4 G, 10 A, 14 pts, +2, 20:41 TOI/G, 153 hits, 172 blocked shots, 0.133 Quality of competition rating

While there is a slight disparity in their physicality and shot blocking ability, a superficial glance at their numbers indicates that they’re a similar breed of defenceman. Neither will ever be confused with Mike Green as both are defensively responsible blueliners who are charged with the task of shutting down their opponents’ top lines.

The the question of how much general managers will be comfortable paying defensive these one-dimensional savants in a weak free agent class will be an intriguing subplot to follow this offseason. When precedent has essentially established the cost of a good defensive defenceman at around $3.5 to $3.75 million,  (Ed. note: For a list of comparables that I made earlier this year, click here.) will desperate teams like Washington use Mike Komisarek’s contract as a benchmark and overpay for Volchenkov’s services? Or will teams wait out the first few days of free agency once many teams have pissed away their cap space and find this year’s Dennis Seidenberg?

Anyways, here’s my point: Elliotte Friedman’s wrong. (Sort of.) Although Michalek might be a good replacement for Volchenkov, at an average cap hit of 4 million dollars, the monetary value just isn’t there… for either of them. The financial value and risk of injury for this kind of defenceman just isn’t worthwhile over the long term. Besides, isn’t the whole point of making a nepotistic signing like this designed to get a player at below market value?

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