Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mailbag: Kent Huskins

We got a request from Mr. Plank of Fear The Fin in the comments of the last post. I guess our Contact Us email form is a bit deceiving. I'll add the email in plain text, though I hate to waste the form that I set up.

Anyways, Mr. Plank requested an analysis of the Kent Huskins deal. Ye ask and ye shall receive:

Today the Sharks signed Kent Huskins for 2 years, 1.7M/yr. Per the stipulations of the trade agreement with Anaheim, the signing will require the Sharks to transfer their Fourth Round pick in the 2012 Draft to the Ducks (unless Anaheim signs Moen).

Preliminary to any numbers discussion, I should say that, in my opinion, Huskins has a professional career for TWO reasons. One, he was solid in the ECAC. Two, he was drafted by Bob Murray.

Muray drafted Huskins 156th overall in the 6th Round in 1998. The 6'3" blueliner was coming off a successful freshman season for Clarkson of the ECAC. I never saw him play, but I remember when he made the All-Conference team the next two years. He was noted for playing solid defensive-defense, and his ability to gain the offensive zone and manage the puck on the power play. He won defensive-defenseman of the year his senior year, and moved on to the American Hockey League.

He spent six years as an AHL pro. I'm not really sure what happened in Norfolk. I know he had some key goals, but he was let go, signed by Florida and then Vancouver, where Bob Murray was a pro-scout. He and Bob were both with the Ducks midway through the 05-06 season, and Huskins took on a leadership role with the Portland Pirates, similar to the one he had at Clarkson. He was team captain, and played well defensively, while still capable of timely situational scoring.

In his time in Anaheim, Huskins was usually the skater in a pairing. He has the size to put on some serious checks, but the team usually depended on him to help on breakouts. His instincts are probably to go for the puck and not the man, but that could be preferrable if San Jose remains a skating team next year. Huskins WILL jump into the play if he has the puck (though removing the threat of going back to the AHL might cure that), but generally, he can be relied on for safe defensive-defense plays. He took an injury (I believe it was a mild concussion) at the beginning of last season that seemed to affect his confidence with the puck, but I doubt that that will continue to affect him this year.

On his numbers, it's hard to make an argument for or against. The Ducks generally relied on three players to eat their ice time, but Huskins did beat out Shane O'Brien and Sean O'Donnell on the Depth Chart (though he WAS cheaper than each of them). His average Time-On-Ice was 14:04 in 06-07, 16:05 in 07-08 and 18:47 in 08-09.

I don't have the time to make a table right now, but if you take a look at the detailed plus/minus on his hockey-reference profile, you'll see that he played up to the level of his teammates.

On the bottom pairing in 33 games in 06-07, Huskins contributed on 20% (3A/15GF) of his lines' offense while facing 17 Goals-Against (2 PPG) for a minus-3. In 07-08, with some time on the Top 4, Huskins had 19 points (4 G) with 48 Goals-For and 17 Goals-Against (8 PPG) for a plus-23 in 76 games. Then, this season, bouncing around the depth chart for 33 games, he had 6-points (2 G) with 29 Goals-For (4 PPG) and 29 Goals Against (10-PPG) for a plus-6.

I would never say he was shielded by his partner (who was rarely Pronger or Niedermayer). Huskins tends to play his own game, but he can contribute offensively if he's given a little room. I can't vouch for his checking, but the size is there. And on a bottom pairing, the Sharks should find his skating an asset.

As far as the price, I think he compares well with the 1.7M journeymen from this year: Marc Bergeron, Mathieu Dandenault, etc. When you consider he'll be taking the ice as 5th or 6th cheapest on a nightly basis, he's pretty solid at that price. He offers skating ability and experienced defensive-defense with the potential to use his 6'3" 215 lb frame more effectively. San Jose can find a first-contract guy with more upside, of course, but I don't think they want to take any risks going into another playoff run. As far as the loss of the draft pick, I know the Sharks were virtually pick-less this year, but they tend to pick a lot of netminders (something I wish Anaheim did more often). Chalk it up to one less goalie in the system. Nothing to worry about if you saw Stalock play this year. Beast.

Ultimately, though, I think the choice to re-sign him is related to the choice to acquire him in the first place. There's a level of trust between Doug Wilson and Bob Murray that stems from playing on the blueline together all those years. If Bob says he's a solid guy, Doug's going to hear him out on that one.

Hope this helps without being too lengthy, Plank.


Mr. Plank said...

Great stuff guys.

That Contact Us form is deceiving. Bolded type at the top of the right hand sidebar- it's too obvious ya know?

Thanks again.

- Jason

Anaheim Calling said...

Any time, Plank.

I guess I'll leave the Contact Us link open then. I'll consider renaming it so it's obvious it's a link or something.

Also, went back and changed the "journeyman" typo. Couldn't let that slide. Sorry I didn't have time to make a table. I would've just used shift charts and stuff.