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Marty Reasoner and a Slacking Blogger

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We have now entered the dreaded "hockey news dead zone" otherwise known as August. July is NHL free agency month and it began with a bang and went out with a whimper. Lately your faithful blogger has allowed himself to become distracted by non-NHL topics like his faltering fantasy baseball teams, election year politics and touring Canadian bands visiting our fair city like (Wolf Parade had a hot show at Variety Playhouse this week).

I have also been hard at work back testing a prediction model for the upcoming NHL season. It is still a work in progress and I hope to cut down the error rate even more. If everything goes well I'll start a series of team previews beginning in mid-August. I never did get around to posting my breakdown of Marty Reasoner and since there is almost no Thrasher news, let's take a look at this roster addition.

Marty Reasoner was a big time scorer in college hockey posting over a point per game in all three of his seasons with Boston College. His final year in college hockey he led the nation in scoring with an amazing 73 points (if you ignore Damon Moore of Fitchburg State and John Gurskis of St. Michael's that year--those schools have hockey programs?).

The old saying is that "offense will get you to the show, but defense is what keeps you there" and that pretty much encapsulates Reasoner's career. Back when he was 22 Reasoner had an impressive season in terms of his scoring rate but he could not maintain that and he slipped badly thereafter. I think it is fair to say that as a scorer he has been a bit of a disappointment but he has re-invented himself as an excellent checker and penalty killer.

Reasoner's transition from an offensive roster player to one with more of defensive side can is evident when you look at his special teams ice time. He began his career as a power play regular and a guy with very few PK shifts However at age 25 the Oilers started using him as regular member of their PK unit and last season he averaged over 3 minutes per game on the PK. On the other hand his PP minutes have almost vanished the last two seasons with the Oilers as he became more of defensive specialist.

Marty Reasoner's Special Team Time on Ice
21 STL 2:42 0:25
22 STL 2:93 0:10
22 STL 2:00 0:23
24 EDM 1:40 0:12
25 EDM 1:48 2:15
26 EDM 1:52 3:29
27 (no season NHL lockout)
28 EDM 2:44 1:13
29 EDM 0:48 2:43
30 EDM 0:37 3:10

What can we expect from Reasoner? A solid checking center who is very good short handed and decent at even strength. One of my biggest complaints about Thrasher management is that they grossly overpaid a 3rd line center (Holik) when similar players could be had for much less money. Reasoner is exactly the sort of "other player" I had in mind.

Reasoner will be paid $1 million this coming season and for that one million the Thrashers will get someone who is superior on the PK to Holik. Last season Holik had an effective penalty kill rate of 78% when he was out there on the ice while Reasoner had an impressive 88% penalty kill rate. Now Reasoner might have been a bit lucky last season and he may not be able to sustain that this year, but he appears a solid bet to replace some of the PK minutes provided by Hossa, Holik and Dupuis last season. To look at it another way, when Reasoner was on the penalty kill his team's Short Handed Goals Against Average (SHGAA hereafter) was 4.49, while Holik's SHGAA was 7.63. On the other hand Holik does rate superior to Reasoner is even strength play where Holik's ESGAA was 3.01 was lower than Reasoner's was ESGAA 3.33.

Bottom line? Reasoner is an adequate replacement for Holik as our 3rd line center and will be $3.25 million cheaper. Paying a reasonable price for a 3rd line center freed up money for the Thrashers to spend more money on defense where it was a bigger need.