Sean Bergenheim at the trade deadline should be considered an early winner. And Bergenheim will be traded. Maybe not this week and maybe not until the waning moments of the trade deadline, but Bergenheim has asked for a trade, the rumors of multiple interested teams aren’t slowing down and Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon seems likely to move the 31-year-old winger. Granted there’s no vast overpayment – mortgaging the future and giving up multiple first-round picks, for example – whichever GM acquires Bergenheim should be lauded, because they will have instantly made their team a lot better.
If you’re looking for raw numbers, the not-so-advanced stats, nothing about Bergenheim really jumps off the paper. He’s a steady scorer, even if a bit inconsistent. He’s scored eight goals and 18 points this season, and he’s on pace to tie his career high of 29 points. He’s eclipsed the 15-goal mark three times in his seven-year NHL career. He also had one monster playoff run in 2010-11 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring nine goals and 11 points in 16 games en route to an Eastern Conference final appearance. What makes Bergenheim such a smart acquisition, though, is his ability to drive possession. The Florida Panthers as a whole have experienced somewhat of a rebirth this season and Bergenheim has led the charge. Florida is a solid possession team at 14th in the league with a 5-on-5 Corsi For of 51.3 percent, a remarkable improvement on the 44.7 percent Corsi For they posted last season. And when you break down the Panthers, player-by-player, Bergenheim is at the top when it comes to possessing the puck. Of players that have skated 100 minutes at 5-on-5, Bergenheim has the highest Corsi For percentage of all Panthers at 55.5 percent. That even ranks ahead of
Brian Campbell, one of the league’s best possession driving defenders. A Corsi For of 55.5 percent is also the same possession rate as
Sidney Crosby and
James Neal and puts Bergenheim ahead of players like
Joe Pavelski and
Eric Staal. But focusing solely on the Panthers paints a picture of his talents that makes it obvious why teams should be banging down Tallon’s door to get an offer in on Bergenheim. When compared to all of his Panthers teammates, Bergenheim has the second highest relative Corsi For percentage of players who have played 100 minutes at 5-on-5, 5.9 percent higher than the team average. But when the score is close in the first and second periods, there isn’t a better player on the Cats than Bergenheim. His 5-on-5 Corsi For with the score close is a staggering 60 percent – the third highest mark in the league of players who have played 200 minutes at 5-on-5 – and relative to his teammates he leads the Panthers with a mind-boggling
11.9 percent Corsi For relative. That’s far and away the best mark on Florida, more than double Campbell’s second-best 5.2 percent, and the highest relative Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5 close by a hair short of two percent. What makes his dominance with the score close so incredible is that he’s doing it while starting only 33.9 percent of his faceoffs in the offensive zone. Compare that to second-place Campbell, who starts 38.1 percent of his 5-on-5 close draws in the opposition end. That can make a world of difference in driving play, and Bergenheim is more than doubling Campbell’s possession numbers while playing more difficult competition. And though Bergenheim is a dynamite possession player himself, his impact on teammates is tremendous, too. The chart below shows every player that Bergenheim has played at least 50 minutes of 5-on-5 with this season. The blue bar signifies their Corsi For percentage when together, the red bar is when Bergenheim is apart from the teammate and the green is when the teammate plays without Bergenheim.
Bergenheim has a better Corsi For apart from every teammate, save Campbell. Campbell has a 5-on-5 Corsi For of 52.4 percent away from Bergenheim, while Bergenheim’s away from Campbell is 51.8 percent. On top of that, when Bergenheim is paired with other players, only one, defenseman
Dmitry Kulikov, has a better Corsi For without him. Bergenheim is the kind of second- or third-line player you win with. He’s the type of player that can contribute offensively in bursts while putting a team in the best position to win every single time he touches the ice. And he doesn’t just make an impact on his game – throughout the season, he’s continuously made his teammates better and driven possession at a rate unlike anyone on an extremely improved Florida Panthers team. That’s what teams are looking at landing in Bergenheim and don’t be surprised if he has a major impact when he’s lining up on a playoff club. He’s not a sexy name – the 50-goal guy who wants a change of scenery – but he’s the type of role player that wins games. He's not even a consistent 20-goal guy that plays with an edge. But he's the kind of underrated depth player that is talked about so often come the postseason, and that’s why Bergenheim will be one of the smartest pickups at or before the deadline.