Let’s start this off with a stat. The Minnesota Wild are 4-2-1 in the seven games 23-year-old goalie Darcy Kuemper has started in January. In those seven games, the Wild have been outshot by a combined margin of 253 to 178.
Actually, we could probably just end the post right there. If that doesn’t tell you how important Kuemper has been while Josh Harding has been forced out of the lineup, we’re not sure what will.
Kuemper (.941 save percentage this month) will be between the pipes once again tonight when Minnesota takes on the Ducks in Anaheim.
The way the Wild have been dominated in puck possession since basically the beginning of December, it’s been paramount they get good goaltending.
To illustrate, take this chart from Extra Skater:
Remembering the basic rule that up is good and down is bad, you can see how the Wild have struggled in the past couple of months. The major difference between January, when they’ve gone 8-3-1 and reclaimed a playoff spot in the Western Conference, and December, when they went 5-9-5 and there was all sorts of talk about coach Mike Yeo being on the hot seat, is goaltending.
Well, that and making the most of limited scoring chances, the most famous example of that coming on Jan. 4 when the Wild scored five times on 11 shots in a 5-3 victory over the Caps.
Those two factors are reflected in a stat called PDO, which combines shooting percentage and save percentage:
As you can see, the Wild’s PDO has skyrocketed in January. While that’s often considered a sign of a team that’s winning games it may not deserve to, goaltenders are part of the team, and right now Kuemper is a huge part of the Wild.
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.
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.
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.
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.