Check out this article for one of the most profound & most comprehensive analysis of Pittsburgh’s veteran Winger’s performance since the 2010/11 NHL season – Chris Kunitz and his performance in comparison to other teams’ Right & Left Wingers.
No player of the Pittsburgh Penguins has as often been criticized as Chris Kunitz has been during the entire last season. He was literally blamed for everything that happened or didn’t happen on the ice. Furthermore the local media made fun of him & the Pittsburgh Penguins Organization for making his iron deficiency public, criticizing this move as an excuse for his poor performances.
This isn’t a medical article. However, (by doing a simple research) I’ll provide some information on how serious an iron deficiency actually can be:
“Iron is present in all cells in the human body and has several vital functions, such as: carrying oxygen to the tissues from the lungs as a key component of the hemoglobin protein; acting as a transport medium for electrons within the cells in the form of cytochromes; facilitating oxygen use and storage in the muscles as a component of myoglobin and as an integral part of enzyme reactions in various tissues.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_deficiency
– chronic bleeding (bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract (ulcers, hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis, stomach or colon cancer, etc.)
– rarely, laryngological bleeding or from the respiratory tract
– malabsorption syndromes
– inflammation where it is adaptive to limit bacterial growth in infection, but is also present in many other chronic diseases such as Inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_deficiency
“Signs and symptoms: Fatigue, dizziness, myoclonic twitches, muscle irritability, weakness, restless legs syndrome, decreased physical fitness/ decreased physical working capacity etc.” – per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_deficiency
I don’t know about you, but in my opinion that doesn’t sound like something you should take lightly or even make fun of, as long as you don’t have the inside information of Chris Kunitz’s physician. No matter of when & for whatever reason the Penguins Organization made his iron deficiency public. No matter of how that really affected his play.
Therefore let’s keep in mind: It remains a fact that Kunitz suffered from iron deficiency, as well as from a broken foot!
Now let’s leave all the speculation and proceed to take a look at the plain hard facts, analyzing Chris Kunitz’s performances based on objective & undeniable statistics!
Sports are a fast-paced business! Just a year ago Chris Kunitz came off a career year, scoring a career-high 68 points with the Penguins in the 2013/14 NHL season, in addition to winning Olympic Gold in Sochi, playing as Sidney Crosby’s winger & scoring in the final! Nobody would have even thought of discussing what’s now being claimed throughout the Penguins fan base: A Chris Kunitz Trade.
In order to make it clear, right from the beginning: Trading Chris Kunitz makes NO SENSE AT ALL!
Yes, Kunitz “just” scored a (nearly) career-low 40 points during the last season (he scored 32 points in 50 games during the 2009/10 NHL season). However, the total amount of points is just a small piece of the big picture you have to look at, if you want to evaluate his real & entire performance and value for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With this article, I’m going to show you, that – first of all – Kunitz’s performance hasn’t been that bad as many want it to be. And second, that – as of now – you can’t talk of “Kunitz and his performance already started to significantly decline”. With this article, I’m going to show you, that Chris Kunitz is part of the solution, not part of the problem.
In order to do so, I compared Chris Kunitz with every other NHL franchise’s (listed) Right & Left Wingers, whose 2015/16 (!) Salary Cap Hit is around the same range, as Kunitz’s 2015/16 Salary Cap Hit ($3,85 Mio +/- $900 000). I evaluated 41 players and their performances from the 2010/11 to the 2014/15 NHL season, premised the player played at least 30 games per season, otherwise this specific season was cut out! (Used statistics reflect the state of data as of August 12)
Over the course of this article, I used the following statistics:
– Corsi For Percentage of Total (CF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)
– Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)
– Points Recorded Per 60 Minutes of Ice Time (P60) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)
– approximately detached GF% (appedGF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5), including an explanation below
– Assists/Goals/Points Recorded Per Game at All Situations
– PDO at Even Strength (5 vs 5), including an explanation below
In order to create my below used charts, I processed around 3593 numerical values.
Here is a list of all the players I evaluated and compared Chris Kunitz with:
The average Cap Hit of $3,827 Mio perfectly fits to Chris Kunitz’s Cap Hit of $3,85 Mio!
Why did I compare him with those players?
Well, most fans tended to compare Kunitz with high-end top 6 wingers in the $6 – $7 Mio Cap Hit range, as Kunitz scored on a pace like those players. That actually wasn’t quite fair, but worked. Now that Kunitz “just” scored 40 points, they still try to compare him with those players. It doesn’t work anymore and is even more inadequate, as it has already been before. You simply can’t compare a player who earns $3 Mio with the performance of a player who earns $7 Mio. It just doesn’t work!
It’s mostly all about “what kind of production provides a player compared to what is a team paying him therefor”. Period!
Before coming up with my statistics and arguments pro Chris Kunitz, let me – from the outset – challenge the most often used argument of the “Chris Kunitz critics”: “Kunitz either played with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. No surprise he has good numbers!”
It’s true, Chris Kunitz played most of the time during his tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins alongside either superstars Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. But this popular perception that Kunitz just became a good player, putting up great numbers, solely because of playing with Crosby & Malkin is simply not true!
Check out Malkin’s and Crosby’s “Corsi For Percentage of Total (CF%) at Even Strength“ – numbers TOGETHER with Chris Kunitz & APART from Chris Kunitz, as well as their “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%) at Even Strength“ – numbers TOGETHER with Chris Kunitz & APART from Chris Kunitz (GF% = Goals For (GF60) / (Goals For (GF60) + Goals Against (GA60))) :
As you can see, both Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin have better puck possession numbers, as well as better “Goals For Percentage of Total“ – numbers once they’re playing WITH Chris Kunitz, than they do have once they’re playing apart from Kunitz. Sure, Chris Kunitz benefited from playing with those two superstars, being a better player once he played on the wing of either Crosby or Malkin (actually EVERY player does). However, that hasn’t been a one-way street, as Malkin & Crosby ALSO benefited from playing with Kunitz! There’s no doubt about that!
As comparison, two examples of players who benefited from playing with a player like Evgeni Malkin, while Malkin himself did NOT benefit from playing with them: Blake Comeau and Jussi Jokinen.
Blake Comeau had way better puck possession numbers while playing WITH Evgeni Malkin, than he had while playing apart from him. It’s exactly the opposite, if looking at Geno’s statistics. He had way better puck possession numbers as long as he didn’t play with Blake Comeau, than he did have while playing on a line with Comeau. The same belongs to Jussi Jokinen, even though he barely dragged down Malkin’s “puck possession performance”, as Jokinen on his own isn’t by far the worst player in the puck possession department.
A good defensive performance starts with a good offensive performance. Therefor & especially in the “modern hockey era” forwards, who are also great defensively, are becoming more and more important. If you want to compete for the Stanley Cup, your forwards can’t just be forwards. They have to be your teams’ first defensive line WHILE they’re scoring goals!
With that being said, how can we best judge a forward’s defensive performance? The key to the solution of this question lies in the ratio of “Goals For” to “Goals Against”. It doesn’t help your team, if your forward scores 50 goals, but at the expense of being responsibly for 200 goals scored against, because your forward isn’t playing any defense at all. On the other side, it also doesn’t help your team, if all your forwards are overly focused on playing defense and therefore aren’t scoring any goals at all anymore.
Whether a forward just plays good offensively or just plays good defensively or (in the best case) plays great offensively AND defensively, can best be described via a player’s “Goals For to Goals Against” – ratio. In my opinion, that’s THE statistic which matters most when judging a forward’s defensive performance – more precisely a forward’s “defensive performance in proportion to his offensive performance”.
Are we therefore simply looking at players’ “+/- statistics”? Well, that would be a possibility. However, I’m personally not a “fan” of this statistic, as it’s not really an informative & meaningful number. The “+/- statistic” is just working with the total amount of “Goals For” & “Goals Against”, scored while a specific player has been on the ice, and is in the end just providing a single number. This number is neither taking into consideration how much time this specific player has spent on the ice nor does it provide any indication on the total amount of “Goals For” & “Goals Against”, scored while the player has been on the ice. And most important, you can’t further process the “+/- statistic” in order to consider & exclude influences like “Quality of Linemates” and “Quality of Competition”!
Therefore I prefer to use the “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)” – statistics!
What is “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%)”?
This statistic takes the time a player has spent on the ice into consideration (GF60 & GA60 = Goals scored by team while player is on the ice per 60 minutes of ice time & Goals scored against team while player is on the ice per 60 minutes of ice time), it provides an indication on the total amount of “Goals For” & “Goals Against”, scored while the player has been on the ice AND you can further process it in order to consider & exclude influences like “Quality of Linemates” and “Quality of Competition” (see “approximately detached GF%”).
Let me make an example:
Player 1 has been on the ice, while his team scored 100 goals and while the opponents scored 70 goals. That would result in a “+/- number” of “+30”. But what has this player’s total ice time been? Did his team score those 100 goals, while he has been on the ice for 200 minutes or while he has been on the ice for 1000 minutes? GF60 & GA60 are considering the time spent on the ice.
Now let’s say Player 2 has been on the ice, while his team scored 200 goals and while the opponents scored 170 goals. That would still result in a “+/- number” of “+30”. However, it’s a huge difference, if your team scores 100 or 200 goals and if your team’s opponents score 70 or 170 goals. A difference you want to be considered and expressed via your statistic – at least a little bit. GF% at least gives you a feeling of the total amount of “Goals For” & “Goals Against”, scored while the player has been on the ice. GF% gives you a feeling on the percentage of “Goals For” relating to the total amount of scored goals.
Let’s take a look at Chris Kunitz’s “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)” – numbers from the 2010/11 to the 2014/15 NHL season, compared with the AVERAGE “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)” – numbers of the players with a Cap Hit in the “$3,85 Mio +/- $900 000” range:
Chris Kunitz’s GF% has always been way above average. This fact also didn’t change during the last season! Or in other words: Chris Kunitz’s defensive performance – more precisely his “defensive performance in proportion to his offensive performance” – has been above average in every season from 2010 to 2015. So that also includes his “bad” 2014/15 NHL season!
“But he mostly played together with Crosby and Malkin during this time frame. No surprise his GF% is better than other players’ GF%.”
As I already discussed above: Kunitz definitely benefited from playing with Malkin and Crosby, but so did those two benefit from playing with Kunitz! Both Geno’s & Sid’s GF% for example is better once they’re playing on a line with Chris Kunitz. Furthermore Kunitz even had a better GF% while playing apart from Malkin – but playing with Crosby instead – than he did have while playing with Malkin.
So first of all, you can’t simply say, that Kunitz’s GF% is as good as it is, just because of playing with Malkin & Crosby. But on the other side it’s still a reciprocative (positive or negative) influence, which we definitely have to take into consideration. Same applies to every other player and his linemates!
Furthermore we have to consider the fact, that every players’ statistics are also influenced by the performances of opponents they’re mostly facing during a season. It is obvious to everyone, that players like Crosby and Malkin are just facing the opponents’ best players. If Evgeni Malkin has a GF% of “55”, it’s definitely more “worth”, than a 4th line player’s GF% of “55”.
The two parameters that are considering those reciprocative influences, are called “Quality of Linemates” & “Quality of Competition”.
How do we set the parameters “Quality of Linemates” & “Quality of Competition” off against “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%)”, how do we integrate these two parameters into GF%, so that we receive a players “isolated GF%” – his personal GF% after the effects of factors like “quality of a skater’s linemates”, “quality of a skater’s competition” and “zone start percentages” have been abstracted?
This leads us to a statistic I named “approximately detached GF% (appedGF%)”!
Explanation: Both “TMGF%” & “OppGF%” are indicators for the quality of a skater’s linemates AND the quality of a skater’s competition. A high “TMGF%” means that the evaluated player’s linemates are – by themselves – strong in the GF% “department” AND / OR that the evaluated player’s mostly faced opponents are simply not that good in the GF% “department”. On the other side, a high “OppGF%” means that the evaluated player’s linemates are – by themselves – weak/not that good in the GF% “department” AND / OR that the evaluated player’s mostly faced opponents are strong in the GF% “department”.
Here is a simple calculation that sets “TMGF% & OppGF%” off against “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%)” and provides a GF% which can be seen as an – approximately (!!!) – personal GF%, detached from the effects of factors like “Quality of Linemates” & “Quality of Competition”.
That’s why I name it “approximately detached GF% (appedGF%)”!
Player 1 seems to be good in the GF% “department” (GF% = 55). However, his teammates’ GF% is even higher (TMGF% = 60), once they’re not playing with him. Additionally, the OppGF% of 45 indicates that Player 1 didn’t face the strongest opponents when it comes to “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%)”.
This leads to an appedGF% of 40! So Player 1’s GF% of 55, is effectively just worth a GF% of 40 (appedGF = 40)!!!
Player 2 seems to be weak in the GF% “department” (GF% = 45). However, his teammates’ GF% is even lower (TMGF% = 40), once they’re not playing with him. Additionally, the OppGF% of 55 indicates that Player 2 mostly faced stronger opponents when it comes to “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%)”.
This leads to an appedGF% of 60! So Player 2’s GF% of 45, is effectively worth a GF% of 60 (appedGF = 60)!!!
Let’s take a look at Chris Kunitz’s “approximately detached GF% (appedGF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)” – numbers from the 2010/11 to the 2014/15 NHL season, compared with the AVERAGE “approximately detached GF% (appedGF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)” – numbers of the players with a Cap Hit in the “$3,85 Mio +/- $900 000” range:
Conclusion: Chris Kunitz “approximately detached GF% (appedGF%) at Even Strength (5 vs 5)” – numbers have been way above Average for four straight seasons. Last season marks the first season, in which he EXACTLY provided the appedGF% you can actually expect from a player being paid the amount of money Kunitz does get paid!
Now let’s compare Kunitz’s appedGF% with the appedGF% of Patrice Bergeron, three-times winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy:
I’m NOT saying that Chris Kunitz is a better player defensively, than Patrice Bergeron is – Bergeron is definitely better in that regard!
When it comes to the entire defensive performance of a player, way more factors matter than just one single statistic. But GF% and appedGF% can definitely be considered as one indicator of how good a forward’s defensive performance is. They definitely are an indicator of a forward’s “defensive performance in proportion to his offensive performance”, which – in my opinion – matters more than the “pure defensive performance” of a forward.
To sum it up: Chris Kunitz “defensive performance”/“defensive performance in proportion to offensive performance” ranks right next to the performances of the game’s Top Players and way above the performance you actually can expect of a $3,85 Mio Cap Hit Player.
So first of all, let’s take a look at Chris Kunitz’s goals, assists & points production in each season from the 2010/11 to the 2014/15 NHL season, compared with the AVERAGE goals, assists & points production of the players with a Cap Hit in the “$3,85 Mio +/- $900 000” range. So basically the production you actually can expect from a player being paid around $3,85 Mio:
As you can see: Chris Kunitz played way above Average for four straight seasons. During that time, he scored on a way much higher level than the average player in the “$3,85 Mio +/- $900 000” range did. His “Points Recorded Per 60 Minutes of Ice Time (P60)” may have been a little bit below Average during the 2014/15 NHL season. But in the “big picture”, he scored an average amount of points (“Points Per Game”) during this season.
To sum it up: Last season was the first season, in which he EXACTLY produced, what you can actually expect from a player being paid the amount of money Kunitz does get paid!
Does the significant decrease in production during the 2014/15 NHL season indicate, that Chris Kunitz and his performance are already declining? In my opinion, that’s definitely not the case, as his underlying (& “advanced”) statistics have still been excellent last season. What am I talking about? Well, first of all take a look at Chris Kunitz’s puck possession numbers during the last five seasons, again compared with the AVERAGE puck possession numbers of the players with a Cap Hit in the “$3,85 Mio +/- $900 000” range:
Chris Kunitz’s puck possession numbers have always been way above Average. Most interesting and notably: His “Corsi For Percentage of Total (CF%) at Even Strength“ – numbers during the last season. Despite a decrease when it comes to his point production, he didn’t miss a beat in the puck possession department. Quite the contrary, his “Corsi For Percentage of Total (CF%) at Even Strength“ increased during the 2014/15 NHL season, compared with the 2013/14 NHL season, nearly reaching his career high “Corsi For Percentage of Total (CF%)” during the 2011/12 NHL season. If Chris Kunitz – all of a sudden – would have really lost a step or two, it would have been reflected in a decreasing “Corsi For Percentage of Total (CF%) at Even Strength“ – numbers, as well. Instead, the Penguins played way more often in the offensive zone, than they played in their defensive zone, once Kunitz was on the ice!
More offensive zone ice time means a higher probability of scoring a goal AND a lower probability of goals against.
If a declining performance as a result of his age isn’t the reason for Kunitz’s significant decrease in point production during the 2014/15 NHL season, what reason(s) can we name instead?
Never – and I’m pointing that out once again – NEVER underestimate the magnitude a scoring drought can reach, when it comes to hockey! Especially, if all the “ingredients of a scoring slump” – injuries, illness, bad luck, overall bad team performances, pressure, importance of games, roster changes, personal problems etc. – concur at the same time.
This applies to Chris Kunitz during last season: He suffered from iron deficiency, which obviously took some time until the physicians were able to detect. That falls in the category “illness”, as well as in the category “personal problems” (be sure that noticing, that something is wrong with you, but not knowing what/why, may cause problems in addition to the “pure illness”). On top of that, Kunitz broke his foot on December 2nd (category: “injury”). Right at the moment as Kunitz came back from this injury, the Penguins and their overall team performance literally fell off a cliff. And all that right before the NHL season reached its final phase of the regular season, leading to an additional tremendous pressure on Chris Kunitz (categories: “injury”, “overall bad team performances”, “importance of games”, “roster changes” & “pressure”). Last but not least: Category “bad luck”. It was obvious, that Kunitz didn’t have any luck at all during the time, in which he desperately would have needed a little bit of luck.
To sum it up: You didn’t need any statistics, but just watch the many missed opportunities on wide-open nets, in order to recognize, that Kunitz was in a big & long scoring slump! If you watched the games, you noticed that Kunitz didn’t miss a beat when it comes to his skating, nor when it comes to his effort & abilities to battle for pucks in the corners. The skating of top players like Chris Kunitz may slow down, if they’re getting older (didn’t look like that regarding to Kunitz). But they’re not all of a sudden unlearning how to score, they’re not all of a sudden losing their skill and talent from one day to another.
Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at Kunitz’s PDO during the last 8 seasons:
What is PDO and what does it mean?
„1. Shooting percentage is primarily luck-driven
We’ve gone through this a billion times – a season’s worth of shots, whether for a team, while a player’s on the ice, or just those taken by an individual player, simply isn’t a large enough sample to overcome the role of luck in putting pucks in the net.
2. Save percentage is primarily luck-driven
The spread of goaltending talent is much smaller than most people suspect, and 29-year-old goalies jumping from obscurity to the All-Star game are hardly uncommon. Again, we’ve got single-season sample size issues, backup goalies, and a whole lot of luck.
3. The apparent talent there is in these quantities, particularly offensive finishing ability, shows up as negative talent at the other end of the ice
Add #1 and #2, and you get a statistic that is almost 100% luck.“ – Source: http://www.arcticicehockey.com/2011/10/28/2520115/pdo-if-you-were-going-to-understand-just-one-nhl-statistic
In order to recapitulate the message from above: Teams & players on average should be around the 100% level, as each shot is either a goal or a save. (Teams &) Players, who have a relatively higher PDO (higher than 100%), are producing above expectations and should regress back to the 100% level. (Teams &) Players, who have a relatively lower PDO, are producing below expectations and should regress up to the 100% level.
So again: The idea behind PDO is, that if a team or a single player has a high PDO, it’s most likely going to come down in the future. On the other side, if a team or a single player has a low PDO, you can expect an increase in performance in the future.
In my opinion, an important thing you definitely have to consider while using the PDO, is the fact, that a world-class player like Sidney Crosby is a higher-percentage finisher than other players are and at the same time can also play adequate defense, which leads to another, above average PDO, while let’s say a player like Craig Adams has a below average PDO. This “personal, above/below average PDO” should be the benchmark by which you should judge a player, not the general 100% average. Regarding to Chris Kunitz, we can draw on PDO statistics based on 8 NHL seasons, a sample size which may be big enough in order to estimate his “true average PDO”:
Noteworthy: For the purpose of a better approximation of Kunitz’s “true average PDO”, I used a trimmed mean (trimming percentage: 12,5%). That means I cut out the highest & lowest PDO and estimated the “true average PDO” with the remaining PDO numbers!
As you can see in the chart from above, Chris Kunitz’s PDO “acted” throughout the 8 seasons like you’d expect the PDO to “act”. At times it was above average, at times it was below average, but it always regressed back to the personal, “true average PDO”. What about the 2014/15 NHL season? Kunitz’s 2014/15 PDO is clearly way below average! That’s a strong evidence, that Kunitz had to deal with a lot of bad luck during the last season. These unlucky game days should be gone and we can expect an increase in performance in the upcoming season.
Now let’s take a look on Kunitz’s HERO charts, based on statistics from 2010 – 2012 & 2013 – 2015:
What kind of conclusion can we make? No matter of which statistic you’re looking at, Kunitz is consistently performing like a 1st line winger throughout (nearly) his entire career!
For some further comparison, the “Glass-To-Crosby Scale” of Johan Franzen, Loui Eriksson, Tyler Toffoli, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Jamie Benn and Alex Ovechkin:
Again: No matter of what kind of statistics you’re taking into consideration, Chris Kunitz ranks near or right among the game’s top players!
And last but not least another chart, showing Kunitz’s huge & positve impact on his linemates:
No matter if you evaluate his performance based on solely his goal production impact (GF60 / GA60) or his puck possession impact (CF60 / CA60), Kunitz makes his linemates better! Once they’re playing WITH Chris Kunitz, they are scoring more goals (positive GF60), while they are getting less goals against (negative GA60). Same applies to the puck possession department! Kunitz’s linemates play better offensively AND defensively!
Final Conclusion: From the 2010/11 NHL season up to the 2013/14 NHL season, Chris Kunitz performed way much better, than the Pittsburgh Penguins actually paid him for. That’s great for the Penguins.
The 2014/15 NHL season has been Kunitz’s first season as a Pittsburgh Penguin, in which he – when it comes to point totals – basically provided exactly the performance you can expect from a player with a $3,85 Mio Cap Hit. Still good for the Penguins!
Noteworthy is the fact that, in my opinion, Kunitz’s decreased “scoring performance” mostly isn’t a result of a “performance decline in the course of an aging player”, but rather the result of a combination of injury, illness, pressure, overall bad team performance and a lot of bad luck! Therefore I expect Kunitz to have a strong bounce back season!
And what, if he’s just scoring around 40 points again? As I already said, that would be exactly the type of performance NHL teams can expect from a player, whom they’re paying $3,85 Mio. That would be still good for the Penguins! So even if his “scoring performance” has persistently declined on such a significant rate, Kunitz would still be a very valuable player!
Short summary of Head Coach Mike Johnston’s philosophy: Every good offense starts with a good, active and mobile defense & every good defense starts with a fast and hard backchecking by defensively responsible forwards. Mike Johnston’s system and hockey philosophy are about puck possession, high shot volume, skill and speed.
This system perfectly fits to Pittsburgh’s star & core players like Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby. But it also perfectly fits to a player like Chris Kunitz, who provides skill and speed, as well as high-end puck possession performances!
The best defensive hockey possible – not having to play in the defensive zone at all!
His Corsi numbers and appedGF% numbers are bringing to proof that Chris Kunitz and his play are making a huge contribution to a hockey system based on such a hockey philosophy!
All that leads to an undeniable fact: Chris Kunitz is part of the solution, NOT part of the problem! He is part of the finally gained & desperately needed depth at the forward position. And whether he’ll play in the Top 6 or “just” as a 3rd line winger doesn’t really matter nor affect Chris Kunitz’s importance & value for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Trading him away in order to free up some cap space or for whatever other reason, would just weaken this finally gained forward depth and the Penguins in general. So that wouldn’t make any sense at all.
If Pittsburgh’s Management really feels the need of freeing up some cap space and/or adding another top defenseman (Cody Franson is still an UFA), they can’t do that at the expense of their forward depth. The only moves, which make sense in those kind of situations, are the trades of players, who are heavily overpaid compared with their real/de facto performances. Rob Scuderi actually is the only player left on the Penguins roster, to whom this applies!
Just keep the players, who are providing a better or exactly the kind of performance based/judged on what you’re paying them, not the players, whose Cap Hit outweighs their performances.
Thanks for reading!
– Benedikt Bäumler
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Sources of the used data:
– “Corsi For Percentage of Total (CF%) at Even Strength” statistics taken from: Puckalytics
– “Goals For Percentage of Total (GF%) at Even Strength” statistics taken from: Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
– “Points Recorded Per 60 Minutes of Ice Time (P60) at Even Strength” statistics taken from: Puckalytics
– “TMGF% & OppGF% at Even Strength” statistics taken from: Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
– “Assists/Goals/Points Recorded Per Game at All Situations” statistics taken from: Puckalytics
– “PDO at Even Strength” statistics taken from: Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com