Cold Lake - Photo courtesy Wikimedia Creative Commons

The Curious Playoff Statistical Blip Of Bryce Salvador

Look out onto a lake.

You’re bound to see some different things.  Birds cawing, boats buzzing by, maybe a conversation between some old friends fishing off a nearby pier.

And waves.  Some big, others not nearly as impressive.

If you’ve paid any attention to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you’ve no doubt been treated to some excellent hockey.  Two unlikely combatants have come together in the finals, and after last night’s game, New Jersey is making a series of it.

A week ago, I was enamoured with the story of Dustin Penner.  Here’s a guy that had a regular season he’d surely like to forget, and he’s come alive this playoff year.  Today, it’s hard not to pay attention to New Jersey defenceman Bryce Salvador, who has scored fourteen points in 23 playoff games.

Salvador is 35 years of age, his cap hit was $2.9M, and he’ll be free to test the free agent waters on July 1 if he and the Devils don’t come to an agreement.  And while I’m extremely happy that Salvador is making a go of it this playoff year, this is a player that the Edmonton Oilers ought not to think making an offer to.

Wait, you said all year that this team needs defencemen.  You’re changing your story now?

No.  This team badly needs defencemen, but they do not need Bryce Salvador.

Why not?  The guy has fourteen points in the playoffs.    If the Devils come back and win the Cup, he’ll have Stanley Cup pedigree, he knows what it takes to win, jam, crust, clutch, good in the locker room, etc…

Let’s take a closer look  at Bryce Salvador before hurling stacks of hundred dollar bills at him.

The first reason to say no?  Guaranteed money if he signs a contract.

Bryce Salvador is 35 years of age.  If I’m Bryce Salvador, I know that I’m not playing until I’m 100, and that I’ll probably want to get a multi-year deal because if I do, it could be my last hurrah.

The first thing that should’ve perked your ears up is the number ’35’.

Bryce Salvador could be a very hot commodity this summer. The Oilers ought to stay away. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

There’s likely a couple reasons that number should perk your ears up, but let’s leave tremendously unfunny goaltending out of it for a moment.

Now that I think of it, I guess I can’t leave tremendously unfunny goaltending out of it for a moment, because Nikolai Khabibulin is a prime example of what we’re talking about.

Let’s go on and say that Salvador signs a three year deal at $3.5M a season based on his awesome playoff year.  Let’s say he signs with the Florida Panthers, because they like to give a lot of money away to defencemen that are 35 years of age.  Because he’s 35, it’s a guaranteed contract no matter if he’s on the roster, injured, or in the AHL.  If this sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because Nikolai Khabibulin has the same sort of contract, except his was four years long, and he’s making $3.75M per season in guaranteed crisp dollars.


The second reason to say no?  Bryce Salvador is having the playoff season of his career

This is a guy who has never scored more than 16 points in an NHL season.  A sixth round pick of Tampa Bay Lightning, Salvador didn’t see an NHL game until the 2000-01 season as a member of the St. Louis Blues.  With the exception of a two game stint in Worcester in 2003-04, Salvador has been in the NHL since.  His most productive season was in 2007-08 with the Devils, where he garnered sixteen points (3-13-16).  The point?  Salvador isn’t going to keep up his current point streak, even if he was on the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings.  I’m glad he’s having a great run, but like Khabibulin’s hot start in 2011, it’s just not going to last.  Not by a long shot.

Not going to be surprised if someone throws $3+M at him in a few weeks.  Good on him for getting it, but it will be solely on these past two months.  Watch how easily two months erases eighteen years of a pro career.

The third reason to stay away?  Better value elsewhere.

Salvador is not a slouch.  The guy just played twenty minutes of ice time last night and had the game winner.  But when you buy into Bryce Salvador, you’re buying into 10-15 points per year, and I’d be shocked if his money was less than this year’s $2.9M cap hit.  Guys like Bruno Gervais, Chris Campoli and Aaron Johnson are all cheaper, and they’re all carry a higher PPG.  The difference?  None of those guys are experiencing a roller coaster playoff like Salvador.

Bryce Salvador has got all the chips right now.  If he pops off for another goal next game and helps send the Cup Finals to a game 7, his stock will grow even more.  The Edmonton Oilers badly need defence, but they’d do themselves (and their wallets) a service by keeping Steve Tambellini distracted from this one.

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