Derek Grant is one of my favorite unheralded prospects on the Ottawa Senators and today, it was announced that he had been re-signed by the organization to a one-year, two-way deal that will pay him a $700,000 salary in the NHL and an $85,000 AHL salary.
Grant, who had filed for arbitration, nets a $20,000 AHL raise and a $40,000 raise should he crack the parent club.
Based on Ottawa’s depth chart at center, especially after the signing of David Legwand, the likelihood of Grant sticking on the parent roster following training camp is small.
On the surface, Grant’s numbers aren’t really that impressive — 20 games player, zero goals, zero points, a minus 3 plus/minus rating in 9:33 TOI/game and a faceoff success rate of 52.7 percent.
Dig a little deeper however and you will notice (via ExtraSkater) that all he did in 20 games of hockey last season was anchor a fourth line that at five-on-five, generated (relative to the opposition):
- 55.8 percent of the shots on goal
- 54.1 percent of all the shot attempts (shots, missed shots, blocked shots)
- 57.0 percent of all the shots and missed shots
He also managed to do all of this with an unfavourable zone start percentage (47.4 percent) and some minutes spent playing with Matt Kassian in which the Senators would only generate 41.4 percent of the shot attempts when they were on the ice together.
Like many of Ottawa’s other skaters, Grant’s plus/minus rating was submarined by a mediocre .885 save percentage and an on-ice shooting percentage of 4.7 percent – which in turn, contributed to a situation in which the Senators only scored 33.3 percent of the goals when he was on the ice.
Interestingly, Grant’s ‘With or Without You‘ (WOWY) numbers do suggest that his numbers were propped up by playing a lot of minutes with noted puck possession driver Erik Condra. Together, the two combined to generate 58.4 percent of the shot attempts to Grant’s 47.1 percent when he was apart from Condra.
Looking at Grant’s other numbers however, it appears as though most of his teammates enjoy rate boosts by playing with Grant than away from him.
So what do you make of a player who seems to make others around him better, but who played most regularly at five-on-five with possession driving forwards like Erik Condra and Mika Zibanejad?
It’s difficult to assess just by looking at the numbers alone, but in my viewing experiences last season, Grant certainly looked like a player who belonged. He’s another prospect who I would put in the same conversation as a Jean-Gabriel Pageau, a Shane Prince or a Matt Puempel who are on the cusp of being NHL players but who simply don’t have a spot on the team.
To their credit, the Senators have developed and cultivated a ton of inexpensive organizational depth. Unfortunately as I noted on Twitter, the whole point of cheap organizational depth is to replace expendable veteran players once they become too expensive and for whatever reason, the Senators seem to be content holding onto their own. The result is a situation in which a financially strapped teams is overpaying its bottom six forwards and a bottom pairing defenceman (Chris Phillips) at the expense of reallocating their payroll so they have more money to spend on talent and positions of need.
In the event that Grant does not crack the Senators’ lineup, he, like Mike Hoffman, is no longer exempt from waivers – meaning that if the Senators want to send him back to Binghamton, they have to hope teams overlook his age, cost, and underlying numbers so that he can clears waivers.