Tuesday, 24 May 2016

RFAs, the Series - Episode 9: Scott Harrington

As the series starts drawing to a close, we are looking today at young stay-at-home defenseman Scott Harrington.

Cheese! Image courtesy of www.thestar.com
I usually don't like using the term "stay-at-home" much anymore, as it's gained a fair amount of stigma within the online hockey community. It often becomes a staple descriptor of defensemen who are remnants of the days when the Broad Street Bullies could literally bully their way to championships. In this day and age, it takes a lot of different skills to win championships than it did in those days.

But I think the term applies aptly to Harrington. When you watch Scott Harrington, you come away almost every time having not noticed him do much of anything. In the case of offense, this is a bad thing. But in the case of defense, it's very good. Once again, not a new idea, but if you're not noticing a defenseman in their own zone, that's a good thing.

When Scott Harrington plays, you often aren't sure what exactly he has contributed. In his 15 game sample from the 2015-16 season (just enough to be predictive):
  • Score, Venue and Zone Adjusted (SVZA) CF% is 49.71%
  • SVZA rel xGF% is -0.16
  • SVZA GF% is 50.25%
Admittedly, those numbers are cherry picked to show just how average he is, The rest of his numbers aren't going to stand out in any fashion either, and altogether it does back our impressions up. 

So, what?

So we have an unimpressive stay-at-home defenseman who only played 15 games. Harrington falls into the glutton of young, fringe-capable NHL defensemen like Corrado, Carrick, Percy, and Loov. Harrington is probably the most defensively capable of the bunch, but he lacks any offensive success at the NHL level.

As unexciting as it is, you pretty much have to bring him back. Being average at his age is actually pretty impressive, in a relative sense. As I've suggested in previous posts, it'll come down to a training camp battle for who gets the roster spot. The loser goes on waivers and could end up with a shot in a market like Chicago, Boston, or LA, where they could use cheap, young D-men.

For contract numbers, there's really only one way to go, and that's with a one year one-way contract. But at what cost? His three top comparables on Corsica's similarity calculator are 2008-09 Sheldon Brookbank, 2010-11 Mark Fraser, and 2014-15 Paul Postma. The next contracts for those players were at AAVs of $750k, $550k, and $887.5k. This gives us a pretty good range to work with.

Ideal: 1 year contract at $600k

This would be a nice, cheap contract. Harrington made the team out of camp but quickly lost his job when everyone got healthy. He then suffered an injury that costed him the rest of the season. This deal says "prove you can make the team again and then we'll reward you." He might go for it.

Realistic: 1 year at $750k

The Sheldon Brookbank special. This is a bit more expensive than the ideal case, as usual, but still very affordable for a bottom pairing defenseman. He'll certainly fit under the salary cap here for the Leafs, should he make the team.

Pessimistic: 1 year at $875k

Now it's more the Postma special. This is a little expensive for a player who only played 15 NHL games. Postma had played 42 games, so the Jets had a better idea of what Postma was. But, if Harrington is as decent as Postma, he deserves a decent contract like Postma's. 


Undoubtedly, the Leafs should be able to retain Harrington at a reasonable price. Whether he makes the team or not is an entirely different discussion. We'll have to, once again, wait and see.

Be sure to check out the last episode on Peter Holland, and stay tuned for next time where we'll talk about Martin Marincin.

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