Jets Roster Analysis: What will the Jets do with Tobias Enstrom? (Part 2)

Posted by Richard Pollock in Roster Analysis,Winnipeg Jets on July 24, 2012 — 17 Comments

Free Agent Value

In deciding what to do with Enstrom, we must evaluate his free agent market value in order to reach an informed decision.

As mentioned, two of the biggest winners this past free agent period were Matt Carle and Jason Garrison.  Carle received an annual cap hit of $6.0 million and Garrison took a hometown discount (he is from British Columbia) to reach an annual cap hit of $4.6 million.  Of course, Ryan Suter, the best of these UFA defensemen, was handed an annual cap hit of $7.5 million.  Suter’s former teammate, Shea Weber, soon thereafter signed an offer sheet with an annual cap hit of $7.8 million.  Using Weber and Suter as “caps,” allows our analysis to take a more pointed approach.

Clearly no executive in the National Hockey League believes Enstrom to be of greater value to a hockey team than either Weber or Suter.  While some may point to the extended term both of these players received as the reason for their reasonable cap hits, even so, executives would be foolish to pay over $7.5 million to a player of Enstrom’s quality.

With $7.5 million as the cap on Enstrom’s value for the purposes of this analysis, let’s now examine some comparable players to Enstrom.

You can bet Enstrom’s agent will look to Brian Campbell as one of his most useful comparables.  Both players are left-handed shooting puck-moving defensemen who have some drawbacks defensively.

Here are Campbell’s numbers from the past three seasons:

Campbell saw his responsibilities increase last season in Florida when he was no longer stuck behind the dominant defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook in Chicago.  Campbell excelled and registered arguably the best all around season of his career.

Another interesting comparable for Enstrom is that of Brent Burns.  Burns is only a year younger than Enstrom and has been counted on to provide an offensive element to both the Wild and Sharks defensive corps.

Burns actually saw his responsibility take a step back last season.  The former OHL forward played on a Sharks team with considerably more depth than his former Wild squad and the transition to a new system on the West coast was not as easy a transition as some believed he would have (including myself)

Matt Carle provides a very recent comparable.   The former NCAA defenseman is the most recently signed of the three comparables listed and does have similarities in terms of the qualities he brings to the table—offensive skills and great skating ability.

Carle has been utilized in a fairly consistent manner over the past three seasons.  He has logged between 18:00 and 19:00 minutes at even strength, between 2:18 and 2:38 on the power play and between 1:13 and 1:55 on the penalty kill.  Chris Pronger did wonders for his career and confidence and Carle turned into a quality top-four NHL defenseman.

Now that we have broken down the statistics of the three comparables, let’s see how Enstrom stacks up against the bunch:

One could argue that Enstrom compares most favorably of the group, except for his lack of penalty killing utilization—however, one could argue that is more so a product of coaching and his possible overuse on the power play than anything else.

All four of the defensemen being analyzed are considered offensive defensemen.  Here are there respective games played over the past three seasons (a nice gauge of reliability) and points-per-game over the entire period:

Here Enstrom once again shines.  He has played the second most games of the listed players and has the highest points-per-game.  It should be noted though, that Enstorm has played more power play time that his contemporaries, but it is not as if any of them have proven to be workhorse penalty killing defenseman either.

Further context is required if we are to gauge Enstrom’s value on the open market.  Here are salaries and term of Campbell, Burns and Carle:

It has become clear that Enstrom’s representative probably will not accept anything less than $6.0 million per season.  Actually, one should probably expect Enstrom’s representatives to seek a contract that carries a cap hit in the $6.3 to $6.5 million range.  Sure it may sound high, but put in perspective to the rest of the NHL market, especially next season’s weak free agent class, and you find a demand that outweighs supply.  That generally results in an inflationary environment that benefits the players above all else.

If the Winnipeg Jets hope to retain Tobias Enstrom’s services after next season, an offer of four years and $24 million may be the starting point of negotiations.

The question fans will debate for the next 11 months is whether or not he is worth it.

***Thank you to Dobber Hockey, Cap Geek and Behind the Net for many of the above figures***

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  • Timothy Bonnar
  • masterjuddi

    great read Richard. Your comparison are bang on. it would be nice to have Enstrom locked down to support the Big Buff’s style but if that’s what the Jets want they should do it sooner than later.

  • Timothy Bonnar

    Some thing that will be interesting to me is the order of the Bogo / Toby deals. 

    I believe the Jets will look to bring them both back, but I wonder if one deal will impact the other. They play on opposite sides, so the deals won’t effect play time, but they could impact eachother’s salaries. 

  • Richard Pollock

     They absolutely will have an impact on each other.  Good point, Tim.  I wonder if they try and get Bogosian done early and then look at Enstrom.  Haven’t heard any rumblings to that point yet.

  • Richard Pollock

    Just noticed I have Carle at 6.0 per season.  It is 5.5 and will be changed now.

  • Richard Pollock

     I think they have to do that soon or deal him.  I think the in between could cause issues down the road for this squad.  Smaller markets can’t afford to lose players for nothing.

  • Richard Pollock

    I can see a team like Detroit all-in on a guy like this.  He’d replace a Rafalski type far better than Ian White is able to.  His production sometimes gets overlooked but it is hard to accumulate so many points.

  • Timothy Bonnar

    If they can lock him up with Carle like money, that wouldn’t be terrible. 

    I am hopeful. 

  • Timothy Bonnar

    Me either. I have to think Chevy signs one or two of his pending RFAs soon. 

    There are too many to leave until next year. Little, Wheeler, Bogo, Postma, Burmi all need to get done. 

    If six year deals are going to disappear, they may want to act now too.

  • Richard Pollock

    I think, of that group, Bogosian would be candidate for six years.  Yet, I still think they want a little more time to evaluate his worth.  Interesting predicament.

  • ICdave

    It has been fixed.

  • Mike Florence

    They have to lock up Toby long-term cause i have him on my jersey.

  • Joey Howe

    I think you need to take into account Enstrom’s size. Defencemen need to be extremely physical and Tobi’s size is a major downside.  I think he’s only worth around 4-5 mil when you take that into consideration.

  • Richard Pollock

     I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.  Defensemen like Karlsson and Rafalski have proven to be worth big time money as smaller puck-moving rearguards. 

  • Sean Weech

     Not true at all. Playing defense is a lot more about positioning and intelligence than it is about physicality.

    The multitude of small non-physical rearguards who have flourished in the league pretty much prove you wrong.

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