Following up from part one of the series, part two of the ‘GAR and Cap Hits’ series will analyze the value of defensemen so far in 2018-2019. For a refresher on the GAR metric, please refer to the first part of the series.
Just as a reminder, the following chart displays the annual average cap hit and GAR values for all skaters (as of 2018/11/5):
The focus of this article is on defensemen, who are shown in the following chart:
Top-10 GAR Defensemen Leaders (as of 2018/11/5):
The 2012 draft class is well represented at the top of the leaderboard. The top-three – Murray (2), Rielly (5) and Skjei (28) – were all first-round picks in 2012. Compared to the final GAR rankings of 2017-2018, there are a lot of new faces. Only two of the current top-10 leaders on defense were even in the top-50 final rankings from last year – Giordano (41) and Carlson (45).
Both Carlson and Rielly derive a chuck of their total GAR from the power play, which should not be surprising given their lethal nature. Washington is first in the league (surprise surprise), converting on over 36% of all chances. Toronto is fourth best in the league, converting on almost 31% of opportunities. One could only imagine how much larger Murray and Nutivaara’s GAR would be…if the Jackets didn’t have the worst PP team in the league right now (10.7%).
Of the best values in defensemen contracts, there are two broad categories: (1) ELCs and (2) value vets. In the case of the former, drafted and signed players under the age of 21 are locked into a three-year contract with an AAV of $925,000. Of course ELC’s and RFA’s dominate the top of the best value signings, with Chabot (OTT), Sanheim (PHI), Sergachev (TBL), Seeler (MIN), Cholowski (DET) and Djoos (WSH) dominating the list. The current GAR leader of defensemen is Chabot, who is the future of the Sens (which definitely looks better than the present). Chabot is currently leading the Senators in points (17), assists (14) and ice time (22:34).
Every year there are a handful of extremely underrated free agent signings that surpass all expectations. I present the Top-5 bargain UFA defensive signings:
1. Folin (PHI): $235,294/GAR
2. Pouloit (VAN): $354,839/GAR
3. Orpik (WSH): $416,667/GAR
4. DeMelo (OTT): 473,684/GAR
5. Hunt (VGK): $541,667/GAR
It shouldn’t be surprising that Folin and Pouloit were not extended qualifying offers by the teams that drafted them, as they were negative GAR players prior to this year. Obviously the change of scenery has served them well. Dylan DeMelo is an interesting case because he was a positive GAR player, did not receive a qualifying offer from the Sharks, but still re-signed with them (2 years/900k AAV). It feels so disingenuous putting Brooks Orpik on a ‘best value list’, considering last year he performed at rates below a replacement player (-13.4!!!), while costing the Caps $5.5 million. C’est la vie.
Be sure to check out the best values of forwards and goaltenders (coming soon).