A Look at the Staal/Girardi Market

Note: This post was written before Dan Girardi signed, so some of this is outdated.  Regardless, I'm going to pat myself on the back for being right on the Girardi price.

The Rangers have two more key moves to set themselves up for the foreseeable future, and that is locking up Marc Staal long term, and locking up Dan Girardi for at least the short term. It is tough to gauge the market on RFAs, as there is very little negotiating power on the player’s side. The only real leverage a RFA has is to file for arbitration, which Girardi did a week ago. By filing, he is guaranteed a one year deal at an arbitrator-decided market value. But, what it also does is prevent him from being offer sheeted. Staal, on the other hand, is clearly the Rangers cornerstone on defense, and someone the Rangers really need to lock up. Blue Seat Blogs regular Jeff Sullivan (user name: Section 121) was kind enough to provide a spreadsheet of the key free agents from this year, their average stats from the past three seasons, and what their 2011 salary will be:

ast 3 Yrs Games/yr Cumulative +/- Pts/yr ATOI 2011 Salary
Staal 81 +6 17 20.9 ?
Girardi 82 -16 25 21.24 ?
Volchenkov 66 +6 13 20.26 4.25M
Tallinder 73 +16 17 19.94 3.375M
Morris 78 0 25 21.19 2.75M
Wallin 67 -24 8 17.11 2.5M
Seidenberg 65 +3 26 21.45 3.25M
Michalek 76 +1 20 22.06 4M
Lydman 76 +11 23 20.58 3M
Kubina 77 -10 29 22.62 3.85M
Lidstrom 79 +93 48 25.38 6.2M
Hamhuis 80 -4 26 22.04 4.5
Eaton 61 +14 9 18.69 2.5M
Gonchar 55 +15 45 24.99 5.5M

When looking at this list, a few things really jump out at you.  First off, look how reliable Girardi and Staal are.  They are two of three players to average 80 games per year in the past three years, and they do it while playing over 20 minutes per game.  Girardi’s -16 also stands out a bit, but that’s mostly because of his -14 in 2008-2009, a number which is incredibly inflated.  Girardi’s metrics show (6.8 GVT last season) show that although he does not excel at one particular facet of the game, he is well rounded and positionally sound to make him a top-four defenseman on most teams.  The other number that stands out is Nik Lidstrom’s cumulative +93 in the past three seasons (wow…).

To make a fair market value comparison, Girardi is likely worth somewhere between Derek Morris money ($2.75 million) and Toni Lydman money ($3 million). The counting stats just about equal out, even if Morris’ GVT is a putrid 0.8. Marc Staal, on the other hand, is a very tricky scenario. The Rangers can’t lowball him, or he will walk when his contract is up. Despite the lack of offensive numbers, Staal is clearly a top pairing defenseman on most NHL teams, but finding fair market value is tough. Interestingly enough, that number may have been set by the Anton Volchenkov / Dan Hamhuis signings. Yes, both guys were UFAs, but Staal’s counting numbers fall right in between those two, plus his GVT (10.4) is well above the other two (4.7, 6.8 respectively). In fact, one can argue that Staal should get more than both because he is simply invaluable to the Rangers organization.

However, despite what Staal and Girardi could make on the UFA market, the fact remains that they are not UFAs, they are RFAs. Girardi played his chip in arbitration, something that Staal is not eligible for until next season, and he should be getting somewhere around $3 million, give or take $500,000, if it does indeed go to an arbitrator. Staal though does not have that chip, and must negotiate from a position of weakness. Fair market value for Staal is roughly $4.5 million, again give or take $500,000, but whether or not he gets that is up to Glen Sather. Slats has a history of treating his RFAs rather poorly, as seen with Brandon Dubinsky. However, for every Dubinsky, Sather has a Ryan Callahan situation, which was handled well. It’s going to be a nervous few months for Rangers fans as we wait to see what each defenseman will get, but rest-assured, they will be Rangers next season.

Big s/t to Jeff (Section 121 from Blue Seat Blogs) for running the numbers on this one.