Richards And Vokoun: Contrasting Steals
Written by Chris Wassel | 03 July 2011
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It is time to play compare and contrast. Two of the best free agents were on the market and signed yesterday. Brad Richards signed with the New York Rangers. His contract is for 9 years and 60 million dollars. Then there is Tomas Vokoun. He signed with the Washington Capitals for a one year deal worth 1.5 million dollars. At the end of the day, both are great signings in their own ways.
The fantasy implications of each deal is very significant. Now the Rangers have their first line Center to go along with Marian Gaborik which no doubt will increase fantasy values across the board in Gotham. First we will look at the stats of Mr. Richards and then expound a bit.
Brad Richards Pre New York Ranger….
Some will raise serious red flags but the reality is the contract even at near Kovalchuk hit levels, is not that bad. Please note that Richards only has two seasons where he produced at over a point per game place. Some will even say it was more because of the surrounding cast than Richards. Tampa’s roster was stacked with the likes of St. Louis, Lecavalier, etc.
The plus is Richards shoots a lot which is good in New York because they are top ten in the league in shots per game. The minus is that will take some shots away from the likes of Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, and Ryan Callahan. It will be even more intriguing to see who Richards plays with. While Gaborik clearly will be on his Right Wing, who will be on his Left? These days it is hard to find point a game guys and Richards career wise is close (716 points in 772 GP — 0.93 Points Per Game).
This hurts so many on the Rangers but helps consolidate the Top Six into adjusted roles. Hopefully, a suitable Left Wing works out because honestly Richards needs a wingman Can Gaborik be that guy? To me, that is a huge enigma. It really is anyone’s guess. Honestly we will have projections on what Richards can do in New York as it gets closer to fantasy draft time. In the meantime, we will raise the following questions.
- Can Brad Richards stay healthy?
- Will Marian Gaborik finally step up consistently?
- Will Torts-Richards II work out?
If all three of these scenarios pan out, then look out. If a couple of these go haywire, then look out below. A nine year contract means Richards is expected to be there awhile with or without say a guy like Gaborik. Chemistry is the most paramount issue for fantasy hockey and hockey fans alike in this instance.
A first year of around 80-85 points for Richards would be a glowing success with 30 goals and a hair over 50 assists. That would increase Ranger scoring by a projected 12-18 goals as well on a preliminary level. Will that happen. Stay tuned.
Contrast that with the signing of Tomas Vokoun. He is in his mid thirties and coming off a good season in Florida where frequently he was hung out to dry most nights. Yet despite producing for the last several years on a horrendous Florida team, Vokoun took a whopping 4.2 million dollar pay cut to play for the Washington Capitals, who did need a goalie to a point. Arguably, Vokoun has been a better player fantasy wise than say Ilya Bryzgalov. The problem is Vokoun never got the support or a system to aid him like Bryzgalov did in his last two years in Phoenix. Put Vokoun in that situation and he might have even won a round in the playoffs. At least that is what some will contend.
There is this thing with Vokoun that his playoff record is unknown to say the least and so is Bryzgalov’s. Fantasy playoff wise Vokoun is nomrally very good though he did falter a bit. Clearly Washington feels with the current roster that Vokoun was a perfect fit and he did fall right in their lap at a bargain price.
Let us take a look at Tomas Vokoun and his career numbers.
Tomas Vokoun’s NHL Career…….
Those are some numbers there. Five out of his last six seasons, Vokoun has faced 30+ shots a game. One thing going for the 35 year old is that he faces a lot of scoring chances. As a matter of fact, he has been in the top five annually for the past six years in scoring chances faced (ranking #1 twice). For fantasy owners who are looking for a guy who can stop some pucks and get you some shutouts, Vokoun may have struck some gold here. Six shutouts for a Florida team last year may get nearly doubled in Washington, who plays a little more defense.
The nice thing for Vokoun is that he wil only have to start 60-65 times in Washington. That means he will be well rested for his starts which is essential in fantasy leagues where “Games Started” is not quite so relevant. Besides most goalies do not play 70 games last year that are promiment in the NHL. Guys like Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price might but that is about it these days.
If Vokoun can keep around a .920 save percentage in Washington, he could have a goals against around 2.20-2.25 and maybe 10 shutouts with 35-40 wins. The key is how Washington does early on chemistry wise with their goaltender. Vokoun has the ability to stop second chances like few goalies can but can be solved with quick lateral movement and passes. In the right system, those fast chances can be cut down which only helps Vokoun’s fantasy cause. Suddenly he becomes a lot more relevant in fantasy circles and not just for a guy that eats up a few categories (GAA and save percentage).
So while Brad Richards gets the headlines, the real scene stealer may just be Tomas Vokoun who is a talent like Richards but at a heavy discount. Fantasy owners will win out by owning a Vokoun over a Richards, who would have thought that after Friday? It does not mean Brad Richards is not a steal. Tomas Vokoun is just more of one.