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GM Ray Shero has a lot of items on his off-season to-do list.
At or near the top should be to upgrade the blue line. In particular, the left side needs to be addressed – especially if the team walks away from John Moore, as they should
I think Will Butcher can handle a bigger workload but having a declining Andy Greene and Mirco Mueller, Egor Yakovlev, or a prospect from their shallow defense system rounding out the left side just isn't good enough if the Devils want to be anything more than a low-seeded playoff team that fizzles out in Round 1.
There are no marquee options available on the left side in free agency but one guy who stands out – at least to me – is Calvin de Haan.
He is coming off an injury plagued year but his on-ice results were pretty encouraging when healthy.
At 5v5 he led Islanders defensemen in Corsi For%, Scoring Chance For% and High-Danger Scoring Chance For% while posting a plus-4 goal differential. He also tallied a respectable 12 points in 33 games, which equates to 30 over an 82-game season.
Generally speaking, his 5v5 results have been pretty good. Over the last three years the Islanders have fared better with him on the ice than when he's been catching a breather.
It's also worth noting his numbers are far better than Moore's over the same span.
de Haan was a more efficient scorer, posted a better Game Score (essentially an all encompassing stat), and posted better relative numbers across the board.
The Islanders have been a better 5v5 team than the Devils over the last three seasons so the bar was higher for de Haan to clear than for Moore. And yet, the former's relative numbers are much better.
Using Matt Cane's free agent projections
, which are generally pretty accurate, we see Moore is likely to be paid in the $3.4 million range annually while de Haan's cost is projected to be ~$1.7 million.
I think getting de Haan at that price is a little too optimistic but I do agree with the model that Moore's deal will be more lucrative. Moore played 20:01 per game for a playoff team. de Haan missed a chunk of games and will be deemed guilty by association for the defensive disaster the Islanders were even though he did the best job of keeping them afloat.
Would de Haan solve all of the Devils problems? Not at all, but the numbers suggest he'd be an upgrade over Moore and quite possibly a more affordable one at that.
I think it makes sense to pursue him.
Note: numbers courtesy of corsica.hockey and naturalstattrick.
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