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.