Having missed out on signing Benoit Pouliot, who ultimately signed a five-year deal worth $4 million per season with Edmonton, the Senators announced that Milan Michalek was re-signed.
Milan Michalek has agreed to a three-year extension at $4 million per-season. #Sens
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) July 1, 2014
I’ve already made my feelings on Michalek be known. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote when Bryan Murray indicated that he made an offer to Michalek:
Gah. I get that Michalek is a likeable character and teammate. I understand that as much as I understand the team’s need to have quality veterans in place. But… and here’s the but… Michalek’s health, even on a short-term deal, is in question and the player has a history of being unproductive away from Jason Spezza. Granted, I think he’ll be a better player away from Spezza than a Colin Greening, for example, but at this stage of his career, he’s just a complimentary piece and someone who’s better suited to playing third line minutes. The Senators’ roster is already riddled with those kinds of players, so perhaps from a payroll allocation perspective, maybe it would be in the team’s best interest to move on from Michalek or jettison expensive bottom six talent that can be replaced internally at a fraction of the cost.
A number of people have pointed out on Twitter that Michalek had some success playing on a line with Mika Zibanejad last season.
According to HockeyAnalysis.com, the Senators were relatively productive when the two were on the ice together – producing 0.934 goals for per 20 minutes of five-on-five ice time.
That’s only part of the story however, because the Senators also gave up a ton of goals while the duo was on the ice too – averaging 1.593 goals against per 20 minutes of five-on-five ice time. Whether that’s the effect of bad luck, poor goaltending or the quality of chances given up by this line remains unclear, but for what it’s worth, the Senators still managed to outshoot the opposition at even strength with these two on the ice together (51.8% CF).
As a 29-year old forward who is now removed from playing with Jason Spezza, has a history of knee problems and has seen his goals per 60 minutes of ice time rate drop for the second consecutive season, I don’t really care how good Milan Michalek is in the room.
Without Spezza, he’s projects as a second or third line winger now and one can only imagine his status isn’t going to improve over the course of this contract. For an organization that seemingly cannot save itself from overpaying bottom six wingers, should Mike Hoffman win the second line left wing job out of training camp, it means that the Senators will be spending a combined $6.65 million on its bottom six left wingers.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Ales Hemsky has signed a three-year, $4 million per season deal of his own with the Dallas Stars where he will be reunited with Jason Spezza. There will be some who inevitably draw parallels between the two contracts, but in fairness to the Senators, it was probably going to cost more than what Hemsky settled for in Dallas for him to remain in Canada.