2010 NHL Free Agency: What about … Mike Mottau?

At this point in free agency, the focus shifts from the gems to flawed guys who can still bring some skill to the table. So, going forward, we’ll spotlight individual players who are flying under the radar.

Previous Entries: Slava Kozlov, Alex Frolov, Willie Mitchell, Lee Stempniak, Maxim Afinogenov, Patrick O’Sullivan, Marek Svatos.

mikemottau1.jpgToday’s entry: Mike Mottau

Name: Mike Mottau
Height:6-0 Weight:190 lbs.
Position:D
Strengths: Very versatile, can log big minutes, nice mobility, some offensive skill
Weaknesses: Not a big hitter, won’t put up fantasy hockey offensive numbers, steady but not spectacular in general

It’s been a tough off-season for goalies and many depth forwards, but I’ve noticed that middle pairing defensemen/sub-elite blueliners often made a relative killing. From the big deals earned by unrestricted free agents Paul Martin, Dan Hamhuis and Zbynek Michalek to the hefty earnings by RFAs including Marc Staal, it’s been a seller’s market for defensemen in a free agent market that’s been bone dry for other position players.

That doesn’t mean that every capable defenseman is sitting fat and happy this September, though.

One player who seems lost in the shuffle is underrated Devils defenseman Mike Mottau. Joe passed along this story from Andy Strickland that came out a week ago, fitting in nicely with the under-the-radar nature of Mottau’s free agency. Strickland points out some of the reasons why Mottau should already have a job.

First, he hits the kind of numbers that non-sentimental, stat-crunching dorks like myself enjoy seeing.

1. Ranked 2nd in the entire NHL in average shifts per game with 31.5 shifts per game

2. Ranked 3rd in the entire NHL in total shifts with 2,489 (1st Pronger- 2,552 2nd Bouwmeester- 2,516 3rd Mottau- 2,489 4th Marek Zidlicky- 2,476)

3. Ranks 15th overall among all NHL defensemen in +/- over the last 2 seasons with a +28 rating

mottaufightsavery.jpgThen again, an overly negative dissenter might point out that newly acquired Anton Volchenkov would soak up those minutes and that Mottau might not be that worthwhile on a team with … you know, actual above-average defensemen (seriously, what happened to the Devils blueline?). Others might yawn at all of those numbers. The thing is, Mottau appeals to the crowd who values character over numbers.

7. Versatile & Durable – Can play the PP and PK as well as playing the right or left side. Has averaged 78 games per season over the last 3 seasons

8. Character & Grit- Received New Jersey’s Players Player Award- voted on by his teammates. Link to fight with Sean Avery

Maybe Mottau isn’t an all-world player or the kind of offensive force who will draw much All-Star or Norris Trophy interest, but surely a team in need of a versatile defenseman could use him … right? Why wouldn’t the San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals or any other contender try to throw a reasonable one-year offer his way?

Again, Mottau won’t change the very makeup of your team, but defensive depth is becoming a premium coveted by the team’s upper crust. Don’t be surprised if he helps a team climb another level or two this season, even if most of his work only ends up being appreciated by his (new) teammates and a few nerds like myself.

(John Fischer of In Lou We Trust has a nice breakdown of Mike Mottau – and also asked why he hasn’t been signed yet – in an August post.)

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    Coyotes’ defensive makeover continues with Luke Schenn signing

    SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 20:  Luke Schenn #52 of the Los Angeles Kings in action against the San Jose Sharks in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the NHL 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 20, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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    While Brayden Schenn hopes to hammer out a favorable deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, his brother Luke Schenn inked a two-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

    Arizona didn’t confirm these details, but the cap hit looks to be $1.25 million, according to reporters including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    “We are very pleased to sign Luke to a two-year contract,” New Coyotes GM John Chayka said. “He’s a good, young defenseman and we feel we can optimize his performance here. He will be a solid addition to our blue line.”

    Chayka is making some significant changes to the Coyotes’ blueline, even if Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still the star of that group.

    The Coyotes traded for and then signed Alex Goligoski. They possibly grabbed a falling star in the draft, too, as they selected Jacob Chychrun. Adding Schenn might not be the last move, either.

    Schenn isn’t necessarily an analytics darling, but a two-year, $2.5 million deal is reasonable even with some flaws. This contract seems even more reasonable when you consider the five-year, $18 million deal that just expired.

    Report: Maple Leafs, Holland are about $1M apart

    TORONTO, ON - APRIL 11: Peter Holland #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates up the ice during NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre April 11, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
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    Peter Holland‘s submitted salary request for arbitration is reportedly more than double what the Toronto Maple Leafs proposed.

    With that in mind, Monday’s pending hearing serves as a challenging deadline.

    Holland’s asking for $2.1 million in 2016-17 while Toronto is offering $900K, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    This comes a day after the Maple Leafs placed Holland on waivers, advancing the argument that he’d be worthy of a two-way deal. He cleared waivers today.

    Granted, the Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle wonders if Holland would clear waivers under normal circumstances:

    Holland is a solid player, generating 27 points in 65 games with Toronto last season. He’s a nice enough piece, but with the Maple Leafs in rebuild mode, they’re not exactly anxious to pay supporting cast members more than necessary.

    With such a context in mind, it should be intriguing to see how much either side will budge.

    At the moment, the Maple Leafs seem to hold the advantage.

    Report: Flyers, Schenn disagree on money, term with arbitration looming

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Brayden Schenn #10 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his goal in the second period against the New York Rangers on April 7, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have some work to do if they hope to avoid an arbitration hearing with Brayden Schenn.

    The session would take place on Monday, so the clock is ticking.

    While the differences in opinion aren’t outright enormous, the Flyers still need to clean up their cap situation, so every $1 million counts. That – plus the length of a deal – seem to be the issue for the 24-year-old forward and the Flyers, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

    With the Flyers aiming for a two-year agreement while Schenn just wants one, it’s not quite as simple as merely saying “split the difference.”

    Then again, that general logic could prove helpful. Perhaps the best path to a deal would be for the Flyers to edge closer to $5.5 million while convincing Schenn to sign for two years rather than one?

    Of course, the Flyers could also offer Schenn more security in exchange for giving up some UFA years:

    The physical forward really started to show why he was the fifth pick of the 2009 NHL Draft last season, setting career-highs in goals (26), assists (33) and points (59).

    He’s coming off of a two-year, $5 million contract, so Schenn can take heart in realizing he’s heading toward a healthy raise even if he doesn’t get everything he’s asking for.

    Wild, Schroeder settle on two-way deal

    UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 24: Jordan Schroeder #10 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 24, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. The Wild defeated teh Islanders 2-1 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Jordan Schroeder might be a depth player for the Minnesota Wild – at least when he’s with the big club – yet his situation provided a decent dollop of drama.

    The two sides avoided salary arbitration by settling on a deal on Saturday, but not before the Wild “sent a message” by putting him on waivers.

    That message was received, as Schroeder’s one-year contract is a two-way deal.

    CBC’s Tim Wharnsby has the details regarding how the salary works out:

    Schroeder has 107 regular season games under his belt, yet he’s played more games with the Iowa Wild than the Minnesota Wild since joining the organization.

    He might not like it, but a two-way deal makes sense considering his standing with the team.

    Granted, there’s the outside chance he’ll flourish under Bruce Boudreau; Schroeder is still just 25 and was the 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft.

    If he unexpectedly blossoms, he’d have a lot more leverage next time around.