It’s been a rough season for the Hurricanes, so I think that it is time to have a little fun and start looking towards the offseason. The Hurricanes have a somewhat busy offseason, with nine NHL players on expiring deals. I am going to go through and talk about each and every one of those guys with expiring contracts and decide whether or not I think I think they should be on the roster next season. I will continue this series up to free agency time. First up is defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk.
The Hurricanes acquired van Riemsdyk at last summer’s expansion draft along with Vegas’ 7th round draft pick (2018) in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick (2017). The bottom defensive pair was an issue heading into last summer, and former GM Ron Francis brought in TVR to fix that.
While the Hurricanes’ defense has struggled as a whole, van Riemsdyk has been very solid. He is never going to be a guy who will put up many points. He isn’t going to look flashy. He is a solid defenseman who is responsible in all areas. Van Riemsdyk has 2 goals and 12 points so far this season, and he leads the team in plus/minus as a +6. He is the lone Canes defenseman in the positives in plus/minus.
Van Riemsdyk has spent most of his time this year playing with Noah Hanifin, who had a breakout year offensively. I would argue that van Riemsdyk was the second or third best Hurricanes defenseman this year, which is rather impressive given the expectations on the blue line coming into the season.
Justin Faulk has had an abysmal season, especially when it comes to defense. It is possible that the team looks to move on from Faulk in the offseason, but if they do that, they need to make sure they retain TVR. Even if Faulk is on the roster next year, TVR has played well enough to earn himself a contract extension and a nice pay raise. TVR is a restricted free agent, so the Canes will ultimately have the last say in whether or not he returns.
Every team needs a Trevor van Riemsdyk. You never notice him negatively. As a defenseman, not being noticed is usually a good thing. He is a solid defensive defenseman who is good on the penalty kill and is good in his own end. This team would be significantly worse without TVR. The defense has been a mess as it is, so taking TVR out of the picture would do nothing but make the Hurricanes worse.
As you can see in these graphs, the Canes give up significantly less shots in the slot when van Riemsdyk is on the ice. Given the continued issues between the pipes for the Hurricanes, having a guy who can eliminate some of the traffic out in front would be very beneficial. (Once again, I am very new and not too familiar with analytics, so take that how you would like to)
Keeping van Riemsdyk is towards the top of my offseason wish list. He is quiet, but he is steady and he is capable of playing more minutes should the team need him to. This team would be worse without van Riemsdyk. Yes, worse. Again, he isn’t going to put up points. He isn’t going to be a star. But he’s going to be a reliable defenseman who can play in any situation. This team would be stupid to let a guy like that go, especially given that the guy wearing a letter on his chest above him in the depth chart isn’t reliable at all.
Prediction: 2 year extension worth somewhere between $2-3 million per year.
Thanks again to Micah over at http://hockeyviz.com/ for the cool and useful charts as always!