Islander Free Agent Targets – Part 2: Mark Barberio and Matt Hunwick

The Isles may not sign a forward in free agency, even a depth one like Condra.  They’re almost guaranteed to sign a defenseman however – the Isles had 8 on the roster at all times last year (although some of that was not wanting to waive Matt Donovan) and with the loss of Donovan and Lubo, they’re down to 6, not counting Pulock or Mayfield.  Given that the Isles would probably rather start less than 2 rookie defensemen, it’s pretty clear the Isles are planning on signing a depth D Man.  Right now, the presumed D look as follows:
Leddy-Boychuk
Hamonic-deHaan
Hickey-Pulock
Strait

An extra depth D Man so the team doesn’t have to play Strait would be a godsend, but this team probably is only going for one on the cheap.  So who’s available?  Let’s look at 2 guys to start:

Mark Barberio

Mark Barberio was not extended a qualifying offer by Tampa Bay today, cutting him loose from the organization.  He’s only 25 and actually would have a year of restricted free agency left if signed, which would be a bonus for signing him.  He’s also 6’1, so he’s not a super small guy (although he’s not big either).

More importantly, he’s a pretty damn solid D Man, Despite playing for a strong possession team alongside a bunch of other super strong D men, Barberio had a positive relative corsi the last two years.  In other words, the team did better with him on the ice than off in terms of possession.  He also didn’t have that favorable minutes – this isn’t a guy who was sheltered.

So in short, we have a guy who drives possession despite not getting sheltered.  That’s a pretty great depth D Man and what you want from a guy who’d have to fill in for injury.

barberio
(The above HERO chart for Barberio is presented courtesy of Domenic Galamini, and you can see his twitter account and website in the chart – it’s a great great site with great tools)

Matt Hunwick

Matt Hunwick was on the Rangers last year, so Isles fans may be familiar with him.  Like Barberio, Hunwick was a plus relative corsi guy, so the Rangers (and the Avs before them) were better with him on the ice than without.  Hunwick was however a little more sheltered than Barberio, but not significantly.

In short, the two players are very similar. The difference is Hunwick is 30, you’re getting only 1 year of him, will probably want a bigger contract, and is also only 5’11”.  The performance has been very similar, but Barberio is at peak age, while Hunwick is past it and likely to decline.  A fine signing if possible, but not as good as Barberio.due to the age difference.

hunwick

 

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Islander Free Agent Targets – Part 1: Justin Williams and Erik Condra

The Isles aren’t expected to be very active on the unrestricted free agent market this offseason (they will resign their RFAs, so I won’t talk about it). The salary is the highest its been in ages and is well above the floor, and the team isn’t likely to spend to the cap. Plus it doesn’t consider itself to have major holes. That said, I do want to talk about players who may fit in the Isles’ budget and would be worth targeting. So once per week till July 1 I’ll be making a post on potential players to target. Today we’re starting with Justin Williams and Erik Condra.

Justin Williams

Williams Last 3

Justin Williams will be 34 in October. In general, teams should AVOID guys in their mid 30s looking for multi year deals. And Williams isn’t a big scorer as is – he puts forth points at an about average rate, but his shooting #s declined this last year. And hes’ likely to get worse.

Here’s the thing though – to the analytics community, Justin Williams is often jokingly referred to as “Corsi God.” And that’s for a reason. Williams has put up corsi #s above 57% each of the last three years, and was above 60% in 2012-13 and 2013-14. If 57% was a decline, it’s a decline from top three in the league to 10th – some of this decline as well was due to less time with Anze Kopitar. As those #s suggest, Williams drives play with basically everyone, causing the puck to spend more time in the offensive zone, leading to shots and goals. In short, put him with a center who can score and suddenly that center will get more opportunities to do so. Gee I wonder if the Isles have one of those.

Williams may not be as expensive as a conn smythe winner would normally be. His age and lack of point production will drop his price – a Kings insider recently referenced it as being around 4M per for 4-5 years. That’s still probably pushing it for the Isles, but if he can be obtained at 16M/4 years, he should be a serious consideration. At least for the first two years of such a deal, he’d be a bargain and would increase the Isles potent offense and reduce the strain on their young defense.

Erik Condra

Condra Last 3
Erik Condra is a more realistic option for the Islanders’ budget – as the #s above show, he’s was making under 2 Million the last 3 years and a deal for under 2M, or even 2M per, should be very doable. He’s also amazingly underrated. Buried in the defensive zone this year, Condra still managed an above 50% corsi, meaning the Sens outshot their opponents despite him having much worse zone starts than his teammates. In fact despite his tough minutes, the Sens were barely worse with Condra on the ice than when the other lines, playing much easier minutes, were on the ice.

In short Condra is a plus possession player who’s cheap. That’s a pretty nice package. He also puts up more points than any of the Isles current 4th liners, so he’s an upgrade there as well. Condra is underrated due to him not being very big (he’s listed at 6 feet 190 pounds), but his play is very solid. And he’ll be 29 next season, so aging shouldn’t affect him too much. The Isles have no excuse for not going after Erik Condra at the very least as forward depth.