A lot of big names will change uniforms over the coming week, but it's often the value players that have the most significant impact down the stretch and into the playoffs. Which overlooked role players might be available this year, and ready to help propel a team towards post-season glory?
The hockey analytic definition of a value player is anyone who contributes in a number of ways that aren't completely captured by mainstream statistics or subjective impressions. Specific examples include anyone who:
- Wins faceoffs
- Scores on the shootout
- Draws and/or kills penalties
- Plays tough minutes and/or against top competition, and
- Drives a team's possession rate
Examples of value players who just missed this list include Columbus defenseman Nikita Nikitin and Phoenix's defensive-minded veteran Jeff Halpern.
Often there are reasons why these players are undervalued, such as their age, small size, history of injuries, bad contracts or disappointing seasons caused by poor linemates and/or tough opponents. We'll explore these reasons too.
One team came up repeatedly in the hunt for the 10 value players most likely to make a big splash: The Florida Panthers. This is a club that was built on a collection of low-cost character guys who simply didn't come together this year. They are excellent candidates to succeed in more suitable environments.
These aren't the only value players, and they're not presented in any particular order, but outside the NHL's big names, they should represent the 10 players most likely to become available, and make a big impact. Let's begin!