|Now that's a game face|
12 NHL games over 2 seasons is hardly enough data to utilize for analysis. Additionally, his AHL stats don't present much to analyze either. He scored some points, but isn't exactly a world-beater at that level. Suffice to say, we don't have a whole lot to go on.
Qualitatively, however, we can see that Percy sits pretty deep on the depth chart. Rielly, Gardiner, Marincin, Corrado and Hunwick all unquestionably go into next season ahead of Percy. After that, you get into Connor Carrick, Viktor Loov, and Scott Harrington, who will likely compete for those 6th and 7th spots in the D-core.
As a right handed shot, Carrick probably gets an advantage. Loov is waiver exempt, meaning he can be sent down to the minors without another team being able to claim on waivers. Percy and Harrington, however, will both be waiver eligible, so if they do not make the team, they could be claimed by other teams.
This puts Percy in a tough spot.
What do you do with Percy, then?
For curiosity's sake, I put him into Corsica's Similarity Calculator (a fantastic new stats website, linked in the sidebar). It brings up comparable players for Percy based on advanced stats. One of the strongest comparables was Stephane Robidas, back when he was good. So that was marginally interesting. However, given Percy's lack of NHL time, it means very little.
Despite the lack of information available, we can still make a best guess as to what the Leafs might do. Here are 3 scenarios, again from the ideal, realistic and pessimistic perspectives.
Ideal: 1 year at $900K AAV
This is the ideal situation because it means the Maple Leafs found a way to fit him into their roster for the 2016-17 season. Obviously, retaining an asset for a good price like this is going to be ideal. If they can't do that, we move onto the other cases.
Realistic: Traded at the draft
At last season's draft, we saw Griffin Reinhart traded to the Edmonton Oilers for 16th and 33rd overall picks. Being that this is the realistic option, we'll go ahead and say no one will be stupid enough to make that trade for Percy.
Realistically, Percy will have a formidable challenge to make this team. The Leafs could either use him to acquire additional picks, or include him in a trade with another team to trade up in the draft. Getting assets back or improving the assets you get at this draft would be a nice way to make use of Stuart Percy as an asset.
Pessimistic: 1 year at $1.2M AAV
This is the pessimistic case because we're assuming the Leafs can't find a worthwhile trade. This puts the team in a position to bring Percy back and hope he can impress. Being that this is the pessimistic case, we can also assume that the Leafs do not figure out a way to guarantee him a spot. This puts him at risk of not making the team and being placed on waivers. This is obviously not ideal.
If I'm the Leafs, assuming the contract is only going to be 1 season, and I'm cornered into this situation, I might look at paying Percy far more than he's worth in hopes that he doesn't get claimed on waivers. Hence, the $1.2M price tag. You may even be tempted to go higher than that. It certainly could put some teams out of consideration for claiming him.
The Leafs are in a difficult position with Percy. I'm hopeful that he has a place on this team as a 7th defenseman next season. And, yet again, we'll have to wait and see.
Stay tuned for the next episode on newly acquired prospect Colin Smith.