Two potentially useful players on Tuesday’s waiver wire

Jussi Jokinen owns the faceoff circle.

Jussi Jokinen has a $3-million cap hit this season and next. Kaspars Daugavins is on a cheap one-year deal that expires at the end of the season and he’ll become a restricted free agent. Both players are almost inexplicably on the waiver-wire today.

Well, not necessarily “inexplicably”. There’s a lot of player movement required in the next few days to get some teams to an acceptable salary cap and roster space threshold if they want to add any bodies at the deadline. Both squads are getting players back from injury and are tightroping the 23-man roster limit. In a perfect world without injuries and limits and trading deadlines, quality players wouldn’t appear on waivers. Mike Colligan wrote an interesting piece at the start of the season about roster pinches that occur throughout the year:

Shero tries to touch base with every GM at least once a month during the season.  When these roster pinches occur, he has to convince other teams that it’s worth making a trade as opposed to waiting for waivers.  He could always bluff directly to other GM’s, but risking credibility over fifth-round picks doesn’t lead to a long NHL management career.

A player’s trade value is only what another team is willing to pay.  Nothing more, nothing less.

One of the best times to acquire talent is when a certain team is hamstrung in some way, and apparently both Ottawa and Carolina are undergoing roster pinches tha make for a good time to jump in and acquire some cheap talent. Both Jokinen and Daugavins are quality players. Picking up either on the waiver wire would be a surefire “buy low”, except in the case of Jokinen if you’re worried about salary cap dollars. Like when Adam Hall was on the wire a couple of weeks ago, these are interesting, useful pieces that good hockey teams can have in their lineup.

Jussi Jokinen is a play-driver and puck-mover. His Corsi On this season is +8.75 over 60 minutes of play. The Hurricanes take way more shots with Jokinen on the ice than they give up. The tireless work done by Shutdown Line, (seriously one of the best micro statistical bloggers there is. He watches and tracks scoring chances and zone entries at least once a day) shows that Jokinen controls the puck over the line rather than dumping it in more than 50% of the time. Teams that have issues in the neutral zone may want to keep that in mind if they have a chance to claim the Juice.

Jokinen’s problems are the same as Daugavins. I think a lot of analysts will look at both players today, note that they’re both minus-7 and conclude that these players don’t generate much at either end. That is a simplistic way of looking at it. When Jokinen has been on the ice, the Hurricanes have scored on just 5.3% of their shots. That number ties into Jokinen’s small points production this season.

Here’s a chart. Jokinen has showed to be able to be a historically neutral puck-possession player (his usage hasn’t been notably easy or difficult in any one season) but I wanted to show that Jokinen isn’t a player who has had an issue creating “quality shots” in the past and his production this year is likely unsustainable going into next year:

  GP Corsi ON Team Shot % Team Save %
2008 72 4.90 8.33% 0.880
2009 71 -1.48 7.03% 0.909
2010 81 -0.87 10.86% 0.920
2011 70 1.24 9.66% 0.918
2012 79 0.17 8.49% 0.918
2013 30 8.75 5.32% 0.918

(Data is via Behind the Net)

Daugavins can relate. When he’s on the ice, the Senators have assuredly out-shot the opposition by 5.15 over 60 minutes of play, but the Senators are putting the puck in the net at an absurd 4.17% of shots when he’s on the ice, and despite the strength of Sens goaltending this season, Ottawa goalies have stopped just 87.4% of pucks while he’s on the ice.

To me, Jokinen is pretty useful piece (here’s another tidbit for Randy Carlyle: Jokinen is a career 1608-1388 on faceoffs, or 53.67%, and is also a career 30-for-66 on shootouts, or 45.5%) who is probably a little overpriced for the production he’s generated in Carolina this season. The Leafs have no salary cap troubles going into next season and I think he’d be worth an audition at centre on the top line because of his defensive abilities, but he’s also useful on the wing.

Daugavins doesn’t have the sample size as Jokinen and had a tough season in 2011-2012 so despite his good underlying numbers this season I’m not sure just how good he is, but his price is effectively nothing. He’s listed at 6’0″ 213 and I’d rather him as a fourth line fill-in than some of the guys who have been playing, although I’m not holding my breath that Dave Nonis and Carlyle have gone through a philosophical change overnight and would rather see big Latvians in the lineup, as cool as Latvians are.

But, he’s an interesting, potentially useful guy on the waiver wire. The Leafs are in the 20th waiver spot so it’s very likely that neither will be available even if Toronto places a claim, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. As limited as Jokinen has shown to be offensively, he’s very good in the defensive and neutral zones, restricting shots against and gaining the opposition’s zone with control more than half the time which comes in handy for a team like the Leafs who are poor puck-possession squads.

We’ll see where they land, and we’ll see what roster moves lie ahead for the Canes and Sens that allow these pieces to be on the wire. My colleague Thomas Drance at Canucks Army wrote a similar post if you want more information on either player.