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2009 NHL Free Agents: Are Any Effective PK Specialists Left?

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The Thrashers PK unit was 2nd worst in the NHL last season allowing 88 Power Play Goals Against! The recent re-signing of Chris Thorburn did not address this pressing problem since he never plays on the PK. As the Free Agent Frenzy continues further along and the top prizes are signed teams will turn to bargain hunting.

If the Thrashers were to look for a Forward who could play on a checking line, which of the forwards left has a track record of helping his team on the PK? To answer that question I looked at all the UFA who played at least 120 minutes short handed in 2009 (I included Mike Zigomanis since he was hurt much of the year, but played a lot of minutes when healthy).

Next I pulled out each players individual Short Handed Goals Against Average. This gives is a very basic measure of which players were out on the ice when their team experienced success on the PK. This isn't a perfect measure since it doesn't adjust for goalie quality, but it can give us a rough idea.

One more draw back to SH GAA is that a couple of "bad" or "unlucky" goals can move the number because of the small number of minutes played. For example, PLAYER X was on the ice for 200 SH minutes and he was on the ice for 20 PKGA for a SH GAA of 6.00. Let's say he had some unusually bad puck luck one season and 3 extra goals found the back of the net giving him 23 PKGA/200 SH TOI which would push his SH GAA by nearly one goal to 6.90. So depending on how much you think luck plays a role the numbers below are either useful or pretty meaningless. Because of the sample size problem I favor looking at two season's worth of data. Why? Because the random luck aspect should decrease as your data sample grows larger.

OK, so how are the most effective PK Free Agents left? Stephane Veillieux and Dan Hinote were the only two guys to post strong SH GAA in back to back seasons. Guys to avoid Dominic Moore, Andy Hilbert and Eric Perrin--these guys were terrible unlucky, have really sucky teammates or they simply are not all that effective. None of these guys is all that famous, but if the Thrashers should add Veillieux or Hinote in the coming weeks you should get excited. Marchant has posted back to back better than average numbers but he has a "reputation" that will likely cause him to be more expensive than Veillieux or Hinote.

Player 2009 Team 2009 SH TOI 2008 SH GAA 2009 SH GAA
Todd Marchant ANA 273 5.92 5.78
Eric Perrin ATL 256 7.13 8.46
Rob Niedermayer ANA 249 6.24 7.00
Blair Betts NYR 241 5.98 3.51
Manny Malhotra CBJ 217 6.35 6.42
Ville Peltonen FLA 197 7.58 4.38
Travis Moen SJS 193 5.59 7.75
Dominic Moore BUF 187 6.82 10.65
PJ Axelsson BOS 187 6.61 5.36
Michael Peca CBJ 184 5.18 6.92
Andy Hilbert NYI 180 6.54 8.45
Stephane Veilleux MIN 170 5.10 3.87
Stephane Yelle BOS 165 7.46 6.48
Taylor Pyatt VAN 158 6.07 4.64
Mike Grier SJS 154 5.15 6.74
Tom Kostopoulos MTL 145 6.06 5.03
Dan Hinote STL 129 3.30 4.68
Ryan Bayda CAR 126 6.41 5.75
Mike Zigomanis PIT 2:51 5.70 6.15