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 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 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.