Pittsburgh has an issue with forward depth. Each year it seems as though they have to make deadline deal trades in order to shore up this area of concern. This diminishes the organization’s ability to draft their own players because they never seem to have enough picks.
The draft is a crap shoot and a lot of times finding players who succeed is very random in the later rounds. However, you can’t get lucky if you don’t have a high volume of draft picks.
The only way to combat this problem is to do a great job shopping for free agents while not breaking the bank. This allows you to hang on to your draft picks.
There are players that exist who provide both competent play and value. Mason Raymond is an example from 2013-14 and in 2014-15 you have guys like Daniel Winnik and Blake Comeau who outperformed their price tag.
Who is a prime candidate that can bring both value and production for 2015-16? Patrick Eaves.
Over the course of his career his has never made over 2.0M per season despite being worth at least that for the majority of his career:
Here is his HERO chart from 2012 to the present
When you are looking to fill out bottom six forward depth you know that players won’t be offensive juggernauts. If they were they would be playing in a top six role making top six money. Because of this you need to find depth forwards who can do other things successfully when not scoring. Patrick Eaves provides this. He plays at a second line level for both shot generation as well as shot suppression. In other words the puck is in the other team’s end more times than not which is exactly what you want from a depth player. He also generates his own shots at a high level. As far as tangible offense goes he falls in line with that of an average third line player.
One area where bottom six players get their notoriety is being a “PK specialist”. Most times this moniker is only earned because of the time on ice a player receives on the penalty kill rather than their actual ability to kill penalties. Patrick Eaves could be considered a player that actually excels at killing penalties. Here are the shot suppression statistics from the past four seasons (2011-15) in 4v5 game states. I have included bottom six players who were on Pittsburgh this past season as well as Patrick Eaves
Eaves has played in a variety of roles throughout his career.
His quality of teammate has gone up and down. His offensive zone starts have gone up and down. His even-strength point/60 have gone up and down. But his possession game is consistently strong.
His dCorsi has shown he has outperformed these roles he has been given, sometimes significantly:
Patrick Eaves did however receive some unique usage last season. He was elevated into a role with both Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. This easily explains his career best 0.57 points per game.
Blake Comeau was a bottom six player who was thrust into an elevated role last year with Evgeni Malkin. Because both players have a history of bottom six roles and were elevated in 2014-15 I have decided to compare the two.
You can see a positive correlation between the two players.
Patrick Eaves has a solid track record of being a very successful bottom six player. He also showed last season that he can bounce up to an elevated role while not drowning in it. All signs point to Patrick Eaves being a player Pittsburgh should absolutely be targeting.
If Pittsburgh could shift the 2.2M Spaling is earning and give it to Patrick Eaves the team would be better for it.
Patrick Eaves is the perfect example of a player you sign in the offseason so that you don’t find yourself trading away assets at the deadline to get him.
This is a no brainer.
EDIT 12:26 PM
The time Patrick Eaves has missed in recent years are due to fluke pucks to his head causing concussion. I don't hold such injuries against a player. They did nothing wrong and it could happen to anybody (IE Crosby). Some teams will get scared off, but in Pittsburgh's case beggars can't be choosers. Take the risk and the reward.
Ouch ouch ouch. Patrick Eaves has his bell rung from a slap shot off the stick of a teammate. http://t.co/LgF9aYB6at