As the season winds down, award debates are starting to reach their conclusion. Decisions will have to be made as to who wins the major hardware come the end of the season, which, among other things, could include a Hart Trophy finish for Connor McDavid.
The Oilers’ sophomore star has found himself atop the conversation for the Hart thanks to his almost uncanny ability to make things happen out of nothing. That includes pulling Edmonton to the post-season. In his first full season in the league, McDavid has undoubtedly been the most dominant offensive player in the league. The numbers don’t lie. With 95 points, McDavid sits seven ahead of second place Patrick Kane and has a nine-point edge on Sidney Crosby. McDavid’s points per game rate, which trailed Crosby’s for much of the season, has since become tops in the league at 1.20.
Because McDavid has been so remarkable so early in his career, he also leads the league in cost per point. His entry-level contract is to thank for that, but it doesn’t change the fact that Edmonton has paid McDavid an average of $9,737 for each time he’s found the score sheet this season. That’s not bad considering the second- and third-place scorers, Kane and Crosby, have cost their respective teams $119,318 and $101,163 for each point.
But if McDavid is on one end of the spectrum, who falls on the other side?
Here are five players who’ve played at least 60 games and proven far too costly for each point they’ve produced during the 2016-17 season:
5. Loui Eriksson, Vancouver Canucks
Points: 11G, 13A, 24 Pts.
Cost Per Point: $250,000
Coming off of one of the best seasons of his career in 2015-16, the Canucks made a splash in free agency to land Eriksson. The thought was that a 30-goal scorer, which he was the year prior in Boston, coming into Vancouver to play alongside the Sedins would give the Canucks a top-line that could help them surprise some people this season. Instead, Eriksson struggled to find his fit on the top line and it took a long while for him to get going.
Eriksson didn’t score his first goal until the 14th game of the campaign, and at that point he had only registered five points. He started to come on stronger after lighting the lamp for the first time — he had six goals by the 23-game mark — but he has since had a 12-game goal drought and is currently on an 11-game skid. He managed two assists in a win over the Kings on Tuesday, though.
4. Benoit Pouliot, Edmonton Oilers
Points: 8G, 6A, 14 Pts.
Cost Per Point: $285,714
It’s nice to know that while the Oilers are getting a huge break on McDavid’s production, they’re also paying a pretty penny for what Pouliot has provided on offense. The thing is it’s not even the low-scoring total that’s do disappointing when it comes to Pouliot, but that it’s coming in a season when he’s actually managed to stay relatively healthy.
Pouliot has only thrice played more than 60 games over the course of his nine-season career and he’s often shown the promise to have a breakout campaign if he could only stay healthy. Consider that over his past two seasons in Edmonton, he managed 33 goals and 70 points in 113 games. That’s a 51-point pace over the course of a full season, which gave hope a healthy year would be a big one for Pouliot.
But that hasn’t been the case. His 14 points are only three more than what Tyler Pitlick has posted in less than half the outings and Pouliot’s performance has seen him scratched on several occasions.
3. Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators
Points: 12G, 12A, 24 Pts.
Cost Per Point: $302,083
Ryan had all the potential in the world when he became a Senator ahead of the 2013-14 season and when he managed 23 goals and 48 points in 70 games during his first season in Ottawa, he was rewarded with a seven-year, $50.75-million deal. Trouble is that Ryan hasn’t ever gotten quite back to the same form he had in that debut campaign with the Senators, and his 30-goal years with the Ducks seem a distant memory.
Due to injury, all of which have effected his hands, Ryan has had to miss 17 games, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s producing at the worst rate of his career. His performance has been such that the usual top-six minutes Ryan gets have turned into bottom-six minutes, and there has even been some speculation that the Senators could consider moving Ryan or exposing him to the Golden Knights come the expansion draft.
If he stays in Ottawa, though, the Senators have to hope they can spark their highest-paid player in 2017-18.
2. Joe Colborne, Colorado Avalanche
Points: 4G, 4A, 8 Pts.
Cost Per Point: $312,500
The best season of Colborne’s career came in 2015-16, when he scored 19 goals and 44 points for the Calgary Flames. His career-best point totals allowed him the opportunity to be one of the more intriguing free agents available, which led to a sizeable raise on a two-year, $5-million deal with the Avalanche. The expectation was more opportunity could lead to Colorado sneakily acquiring a 20-goal guy and early on it seemed he was going to be a hit.
In Colborne’s very first game with the Avalanche, he lit up the Dallas Stars for three goals. It was his first career hat trick, and it made the Colborne-Colorado connection appear to be a match made in heaven. Things haven’t been quite as rosy since that hat trick, though. Colborne then proceeded to go on a 41-game goalless drought, over which time he registered one — yes, just one — point. After snapping the scoring skid with a tally on Feb. 12, Colborne has since gone another 19 games without a goal.
At this point, the Avalanche would probably be pleased if he could hit five tallies this season.
1. Carl Soderberg, Colorado Avalanche
Points: 6G, 8A, 14 Pts.
Cost Per Point: $339,286
It’s easy to pick on the Avalanche this season. They’re the only team with a goal differential worse than minus-100. They are set to lose more games than they have points at season’s end. They’ve won a league-low 21 games in regulation or overtime. Things are bleak in Colorado. But it doesn’t change the fact that it just so happens two of the worst points producers based on cost per point belong to the Avalanche. This is simply a fact.
Soderberg didn’t come over to the NHL until late in his career, but he proved to be a savvy two-way player early on with some scoring punch. That allowed him to net 29 goals and 92 points in his first 155 games, all with the Bruins. But it also priced him out of Boston, which led to a deal to Colorado, where the Avalanche signed the free agent-to-be to a lucrative five-year, $23.75-million deal.
In the first season, the deal didn’t look so bad. Soderberg was actually the most productive he had ever been. He played more than 18 minutes per night, put up 12 goals and 51 points and even received some consideration for the Selke Trophy. Not bad, right? Well, that ended in a hurry.
This season has been downright dreadful for Soderberg and it’s reflected in the way he’s been used by first-year coach Jared Bednar. Soderberg’s ice time has fallen by nearly 4:30 per game and his six goals are set to be half of what he achieved in 2015-16. His 14 points, too, are roughly a quarter of what he produced one year prior. It’s been ugly all around for Soderberg.
That Soderberg has struggled so mightily has to be tough for Avalanche management to stomach, as well, because he’s due a $250,000 raise in salary — not cap hit — come the start of 2017-18. Here’s hoping he, and the rest of the Avalanche, can turn things around next season.
(All cost per point figures via CapFriendly)
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