Saturday, July 9, 2016

Musing on Hartnell

These next few years, the discussion will often return to Scott Hartnell, the length of his contract, and his production will dictate that trend.  While Hartnell's speed will continue to be a concern as he ages, I go to my oft-repeated evaluation that speed was never a big part of his game.  He hasn't gotten dramatically slower since he scored 28 goals 2 years ago, and his goal production of 23 last year did not represent a dramatic fall off on an underperforming team.

Yet in this year's free agent frenzy, I saw a free agent given a contract of equivalent money and term as Hartnell has remaining merely because he was considered fast.  However, that player's carreer point total does not even add up to Hartnell's production since he has been with the CBJ.  Yes, that player is 27, and Hartnell is 34.  But if Hartsy was going to lose a step, he probably did it when he was 30, and yet he remains a productive winger.

To phrase my argument a different way, Scott Hartnell has plenty of speed to chase down the mouth of the goal, the place where he does most of his scoring.  Even if he loses another step between now and age 37, when his contract ends, he's still going to be able to outrun the goal.  Hartnell does not score his goals on break always and in transition, he does it out of set piece offensive possession when getting someone to the net to disrupt things is very important.  Getting into and out of transition, and into a set piece of offensive possession has a lot more to do with our young defensive corps than an aging left winger.  And there is certainly hope on the former for the upcoming year, particularly if Zach Werenski continues to develop on the pace he has shown.

At the end of the day, you need goals to win.  When people look at moving Hartnell, I always ask, where are you going to get the goals to replace Hartnell's production?  I think it is fair to think that Oliver Bjorkstrand will contribute some goals in this upcoming year, but no one on the free agent market that got huge term and huge money is even close to Hartnell's point production over the last 2 years.  His contract and cap hit look pretty good compared to some of the contracts that were handed out July 1.

If Hartnell's production falls off dramatically, than that changes things.  However, he put up goals on last year's dysfunctional team, and has had some time to adjust to Tortorella.  I do wish Torts would ease up on the penalty thing.  Scott Hartnell and dumb penalties are things that go hand in hand, and it allows him to play with an edge.  He is not as effective without that edge.  Perhaps they will be able to strike a balance in the upcoming years.

The buy out of Tyutin and Boll alleviated the cap space crunch that created pressure to move Hartnell, while you could, and while he was producing.  So in all likelihood he will be around this year.   I hope he has a productive year again.

GO MONSTERS (Champs!)!!!

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