Boston Bruins re-sign Chris Kelly

Cam Charron
June 11 2012 04:44PM

Stop me if you've heard this one: a National Hockey League team overpaid for a bottom six role player. Granted, Chris Kelly had a 20-goal season, a career-high, but he also "led" the NHL in PDO and had a 16.3% shooting rate. Essentially, his percentages, and his age (32 next season) probably indicate that future success from Kelly is a bad bet.

This didn't stop the Bruins from signing Kelly to a four-year deal worth $12M.

Part of the reason I don't really get this move is that the Bruins had a more than adequate replacement in Benoit Pouliot (NHL.com lists both as centres) in a further depth role. Last season's numbers:

  Goals/82 Shots/Game Sh%
Benoit Pouliot 21.8 1.78 15.0%
Chris Kelly 20.4 1.51 16.4%

The "goals" and "shots" rate are pro-rated to 82 games and 15 minutes per game. Pouliot put up a better goal and shot rate last season, and the shooting percentage is slightly less.

As for underlying numbers:

  Corsi Rel Corsi Rel QoC Ozone%
Benoit Pouliot 3.9 0.262 57.7
Chris Kelly -7.8 0.383 47.2

Chris Kelly wasn't a possession machine by any rate. Granted, it's tough to get a plus Corsi Rel rate on this Bruins team with Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron and all these terrific players in the lineup, but that didn't hurt the replacement.

Adjusted for zone starts, Pouliot was +6.2 and Kelly was +4.1, so against slightly weaker competition, the replacement managed a better on-ice possession rate.

Pouliot is six years younger and is a restricted free agent. This is one of those instances where a team may be able to save a few bucks, important in a year where Tim Thomas' $5M cap hit sits un-used, menagincly, at the bottom of the team's salary cap page.

Amendment:

I don't necessarily think this means that Kelly is worth about $2M more because he won 51.8% of his face-offs.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 Kent Wilson
June 11 2012, 04:51PM
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This is one of those instances where a guy got 20 goals in the season, but isn't actually a "20-goal scorer". I assume the team payed him based on that designation, which they are likely to soon regret.

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#2 svat
June 11 2012, 07:10PM
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Disappointing as B's fan, but it isn't too bad. If the cap is raised to the purported 70.3mil, then a 3m cap hit is only ~4% of the cap. It's an overpayment for a player that can be replaced for the most part by dimes and nickels, but it's basically a 1.8 mil cap hit in the first post-lockout year. Not too bad, and plus, if we need to move him, a team desperate for center depth will most likely take a look at him.

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#3 Derek Zona
June 12 2012, 03:21PM
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@Kent Wilson

And it makes me wonder about the Advanced stats Chiarelli is using.

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#4 Derek Zona
June 12 2012, 03:22PM
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@svat

If there's a place on the roster you don't want to overpay, it's bottom of the roster forwards.

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#5 Bruce Peter
June 12 2012, 03:44PM
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Pouliot is one of the league's worst in terms of penalty differential. Also, Kelly kills penalties.

Kelly is definitely more valuable than Pouliot. But you can find Kelly replacements on the open market.

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#6 svat
June 12 2012, 10:04PM
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@Derek Zona

Oh, I fully agree, I'm just saying that it's a relatively small overpayment that won't cause too many problems. What worries me more about it pertains more to your response to Kent, considering the Campbell contract and to some extent the Peverley contract. Chiarelli had discussed and noted he uses his own form of advanced stats (which i'm sure is what you were referring to), which got me pretty excited, and considering how well of a possession team the B's have been with him since he came along, I didn't feel I was excited for nothing. Now that he has re-signed two depth players and a 4th liner to contracts that someone who uses fancy stats would be hesitant to do, I am starting to question what he is doing. Again though, he could be stockpiling contracts that look attractive to old school GM's, and could be looking to trade these players in the future (kind of a stretch, but the alternative is that his possession measuring tools are not as good as I thought).

Also of note, PooPoo shouldn't be looked at as a replacement center on the cheap. The problem is the player Chia already signed to an overpaying contract, Rich Peverley, could do the job fine.

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#7 Ben Wendorf
June 13 2012, 12:53AM
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Derek Zona wrote:

And it makes me wonder about the Advanced stats Chiarelli is using.

Power Scout Hockey. The big brass trumpet that plays "Hot Cross Buns." That's my guess.

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#8 John Chambers
June 13 2012, 09:59AM
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It's not a terrible contract aside from perhaps the length. With a $70M cap, the average player salary on the 23-man roster is $3M. Kelly is therefore priced as an average NHL'er.

Is he easy to replace? Maybe. Would you trade Kelly for Eric Belanger to save $1.3M? Maybe or maybe not. Would you trade him for Vern Fiddler to save $1.2M? Probably. Would you trade him straight up for Joel Ward and his untimely penalties? Definitely not.

Kelly is a pretty good 3rd line C. He's about the same age as Jarret Stoll, and close to equal in terms of value (more offence with Kelly, worse defense). I bet Stoll gets more than $3M/year.

Expensive. But not too out of line with what the market will bear.

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