If you’ve been reading this blog for the past year, then you know that I am not a fan of Erik Christensen. I think he has tremendous skill, but is maddeningly inconsistent to the point where his value diminishes. His play frustrates me so much because he just seems so lackadaisical in when he doesn’t have the puck, especially in his own end. That said, in the battle between him and Sean Avery, while my guy said Avery, my brain says that keeping Christensen was the right move.
The first reason here is the salary: Christensen simply makes less money, and the $1 million difference will go a long way to patching some holes in this lineup to make a playoff run. For a player who is likely going to be a healthy scratch for 40 games, there was no point in keeping Avery and his $1.9 million salary. Christensen’s $925k salary is an easier pill to swallow from the press box.
Avery, while popular with the fans, lost his touch. He is no longer the 15 goal guy, and he no longer agitates opponents regularly. There is no one to blame here but Avery himself, and any finger pointing to John Tortorella is unjust, because Avery has been given his fair share of opportunities. Yes, he is a blue collar guy, but he just can’t do what he used to do. He scored three goals last year. Three.
The general argument for keeping Avery is that he draws penalties. Looking deeper into this stat, it was true at one point, but simply is not true anymore. Luckily, the guys at Behind The Net keep track of such statistics, so there’s the ability to use numbers to defend this argument. In the table below, we see Avery’s penalties taken per 60 minutes (PTake/60) and his penalties drawn per 60 minutes (PDrawn/60). The numbers don’t lie.
As the table shows, Avery has been drawing just .1 more penalties for each one taken in the past two years. Simply put, Avery draws 11 penalties for every 10 he takes. That is note a good enough reason to keep him around. When Avery was the most effective, he was drawing one extra penalty for each one he took (2007-2008, 2008-2009). Regardless of what you want to say about phantom calls and swallowing the whistle when it comes to Avery, the fact is that he is not as effective as he used to be, whether by his fault or by others.
Even GVT and PVT work against Avery here. Christensen had a 5.4 GVT (1.8 PVT) last season, while Avery had a 2.5 GVT (.833 PVT). By those numbers, having Christensen with the team will give the Rangers an extra point in the standings at the end of the season. The numbers tell the story: Christensen was the right person to keep.