Number-crunching blog Behind the Net has a great study of just how unlikely (and quite lucky) the Colorado Avalanche’s playoff run has been this year. The discussion goes deeper than this, but the general hypothesis is that the Avs’ high shooting percentage and goalie Craig Anderson’s high save percentage indicate that they might not be able to sustain their continued success over the course of the playoffs.
Let me be clear: it’s not like Colorado should finish 28th in the league this season. But even with Anderson playing well in goal, they seem like more of a playoff bubble team. It will be very difficult for the Avs to win a playoff series if they don’t start dominating their opponents on the shot tables.
Colorado’s shooting percentages may not be sustainable and Anderson might not be this good much longer, but I think that Anderson might be the real deal. If nothing else, as the former backup of another stellar-yet-relatively-unknown goalie Tomas Vokoun, Anderson had almost an anti-contract year.
In fact, I think Anderson and fellow career back Ty Conklin are examples of the value that can be found in solid, cheap goalies who have a proven track record of being productive. On the other hand, Scott Clemmensen is the ultimate contract year goalie; remember, GMs, when someone comes out of nowhere you might want to make sure they can produce for more than one season.
First, let’s look at their contracts (compiled from Capgeek.com).
Craig Anderson: 2 year, $3.625 million
Ty Conklin: 2 year, $2.6 million
Scott Clemmensen: 3 year, $3.6 million
So, obviously, Anderson is making slightly more money than his two colleagues. Still, the three were probably held in the same general regard (although Clemmensen was signed to replace Anderson in Florida, so maybe his expectations were a little lower). Now, let’s take a look at each goalie’s contract year versus current season (compiled from HockeyDB.com).
(contract year: 15-7-5, 2.71 GAA, 92.4 save % with 3 SOs)
(this year: 35-19-5, 2.46 GAA, 92.0 save % with 7 SOs)
(contract year: 25-11-2, 2.51 GAA, 90.9 save % with 6 SOs)
(this year: 8-8-1, 2.60 GAA, 92 save % with 3 SOs)
(contract year: 25-13-1, 2.39 GAA, 91.7 save % with 2 SOs)
(this year: 5-6-0, 3.62 GAA, 89 save % with 0 SOs)
Conklin is fairly comparable to Anderson in the nerdy numbers (save percentage mostly), which points to Behind the Net’s point about Colorado’s lucky streak. Conklin might not be getting many wins, but he has an excellent save percentage. Those two are great values in net.
Clemmensen is the backup goalie’s version of Cristobal Huet. He came from nowhere, had a nice hot streak and suckered a team into a longer than deserved contract. Naturally, his deal isn’t nearly as damaging as Huet’s but the Panthers aren’t going to feel very comfortable putting Clemmensen in even though Vokoun is known for being a bit fragile.
So, once again, I must continue my crusade. If you’re going to pay a goalie big bucks, don’t do it because of some dream of him maintaining a Cinderella season. Consistency is the key.