Originally posted on The 6th Sens  |  Last updated 7/24/12

Photo: Bobby Butler celebrating one of the six goals that he scored last season.


After Kaspars Daugavins inked a one-year, one-way contract yesterday morning, Bruce Garrioch speculated that it could signal the end of Bobby Butlaaaaah and his superb Massachussetts accent's time in Ottawa.

Winger Kaspars Daugavins avoided a trip to an arbitration hearing Tuesday by signing a one-year, one-way $635,000 deal with the Senators Monday morning, but he may have bought Bobby Butler a ticket out of town in the process.

With 13 forwards on one-way contracts, the Senators have 48 hours to decide if they’re going to exercise their right to buy out a player — in this case it would be Butler — after settling with somebody who filed for arbitration.

Scheduled to make $1.2 million in 2012-13, Butler, 25, can be bought out at just one-third of his contract because of his age. The cap hit would be $200,000 over the next two years, but that’s much cheaper than him playing in the minors on a one-way deal.

Since Ottawa settled with Daugavins prior to his actual arbitration hearing, Article 13(c)(ii) in the CBA provides the condition that the Senators can terminate a Standard Player Contract (SPC). Bruce is correct in asserting that as a 25 year old, Butlaaaah can be bought out for one-third of his current contract value. While also true that his potential buyout would cost the Sens $200,000 per year over the next two seasons, Capgeek's buyout calculator indicates that his buyout cap hit would be $50,000 for the first year and $200,000 for the second season.
Signed as a free agent out of the University of New Hampshire in 2010, fans may have hoped that he was another Bryan Murray collegiate free agent coup who was in the vein of a Dustin Penner or a Chris Kunitz. In truth, he was nothing more than a transitional player. With a farm system that, at the time, was absent of skilled NHL-ready prospects, Butlaaaah was a placeholder until such prospects could be acquired or developed. After a season in which he tallied 6 goals and 16 points, it seems likely that the time is now. Many of the team's highly touted prospects -- ie. Jakob Silfverberg, Mika Zibanejad or even a Mark Stone -- are poised to leapfrog him on the team's depth chart.

Although Butler is blessed with a decent shot, he's the sort of player whose play away from the puck will never endear him to the masses. If he's not going to be on one of the team's top lines, his utility is significantly diminished.

Nevertheless, I was browsing around Behind the Net and came across some interesting numbers:
  • Player A:
    • 55 games, on the ice for 33 goals and 24 against at 5v5
  • Player B:
    • 56 games, on the ice for 31 goals for and 24 against at 5v5
Player A is Kyle Turris and Player B is Bobby Butlaaaaah.

Of course the caveat to Butlaaah's production is that he spent 41.2 percent of his 5v5 time on the ice with Erik Karlsson and 40.7 percent with Jason Spezza. (For what it's worth, Spezza only played with Butlaaaah 19.4 percent of the time at 5v5 and Butlaaaah was not even ranked amongst Karlsson's ten most frequent linemates.)

Playing with two of the team's best offensive players, it stands to reason that these two players would inflate Butlaaaah's underlying numbers somewhat. In looking at the 5v5 With Or Without You Numbers (WOWY) from HockeyAnalysis, we can see this is true.

Here's the legend to help explain the charts:
  • TOI = time on ice
  • GF = goals for
  • GA = goals against
  • GF/20 = goals for per 20 minutes of ice-time
  • GA/20 = goals against per 20 minutes of ice-time
  • CF = corsi events for (shots, missed shots, blocked shots) - corsi is used as a measure of puck possession
  • CA = corsi events against
  • CF/20 = corsi events for per 20 minutes of ice-time
  • CA/20 = corsis events against per 20 minutes of ice-time
  • GF% = goals for / (goals for + goals against)
  • CF% = corsi events for / (corsi events for + corsi events against)

Butler with Spezza
TOI GF GF/20 GA GA/20 GF% 237:00151.26690.7590.625 Butler without Spezza 346:51150.865130.7500.536 Spezza without Butler
In less than 100 minutes of ice-time playing with Spezza than without him, Butler was on the ice for the same amount of 5v5 goals. His goals against per 20 rate was also significantly lower as well.

Butler with Spezza
TOI CF CF/20 CA CA/20 CF% 237:0025221.26624220.4220.510 Butler without Spezza 346:5135220.29729917.2410.541 Spezza without Butler
Interestingly however, Butler and Spezza actually displayed improved puck possession numbers when they were apart from each other.

Butler with Karlsson
TOI GF GF/20 GA GA/20 GF% 240:54161.3287
0.5810.696 Butler without Karlsson 342:57140.816150.8750.483 Karlsson without Butler
BOOM. Here is the appropriate condemnation of Butler's ice-time. When away from the team's best offensive defenceman and catalyst, Butler's production and play noticeably drops. In fact, amongst Ottawa's forwards, Butler had the highest GF/20 rate while being on the ice at the same time as Karlsson.

Butler with Karlsson
TOI CF CF/20 CA CA/20 CF% 240:5429024.07620517.0200.586 Butler without Karlsson 342:5731418.31233619.5950.483 Karlsson without Butler
Even more condemning, his puck possession rates drop drastically without Karlsson being on the ice at the same time.

Considering the numbers, it's easy to reiterate that Butlaaaaah's underlying value was driven in principle because of the ice-time that he received playing with Spezza and to a much greater extent, Erik Karlsson. But holy ****, for a guy who played the bulk of his ice-time with these two players and had the team's fifth highest GF/60 metric (and third highest amongst forwards), there's also an element of bad luck in the sense that he didn't factor into the scoring more often. (Note: GF/60 = rate that measures the number of goals for a player is on the ice for per 60 minutes of ice-time.)

Given Ottawa's congestion of forwards who are on one-way contracts, Butler's presence could afford the organization the patience to nurture the development of prospects like Zibanejad or Silfverberg. Similarly, his $1.2M cap hit could help the team reach the cap floor, assuming there is one, next season. But, given the uncertainty of what the next CBA will bring, the cap floor could be much lower or gone altogether. As such, given the real dollars that could be saved by the organization, Butler's an easily replaceable player who no longer has a place on one of the team's top two lines. I'm in agreement with Garrioch when he says that Butler's a very real candidate for a buyout.
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