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Behind The Numbers

Analyzing top NHL Trade Deadline candidates

Matt Duchene of Avalanche, Marc-Andre Fleury of Penguins could be moved before March 1

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

The 2017 NHL Trade Deadline is March 1, and some prominent names already have been mentioned in the rumor mill, including Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene, St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Here is a look at some underlying numbers for those players.

 

Matt Duchene, C, Colorado Avalanche

A frustrating season in Colorado could make general manager Joe Sakic receptive to offers for top players who wouldn't normally be available, like Duchene, a top-six, two-way center. His contract, which expires after the 2018-19 season, has an average annual value of $6 million, according to CapFriendly.

Duchene leads the Avalanche with 106 goals, 150 assists, and 256 points in 318 games in the past five seasons. League-wide in that same span, he is tied for 25th in goals, 38th in assists, and tied for 23rd in points.

Duchene is a fast and versatile player who contributes in a number of ways beyond scoring. His faceoff winning percentage of 59.9 is second to Antoine Vermette of the Anaheim Ducks (63.6) among players to take at least 100 faceoffs. He boosts Colorado's share of even-strength shot attempts from 45.47 percent to 48.47 when he's on the ice, and he has scored 17 goals in 46 career shootout attempts.

A significant offer will still be required to acquire a player of Duchene's credentials, but players like this don't hit the market every day.

Video: CHI@COL: Duchene goes coast-to-coast, roofs wrister

 

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh Penguins

Experience can be a huge factor down the stretch, which is why there could be some interest in Fleury, whose 680 games played ranks fourth among active goalies, and his 100 Stanley Cup Playoff games ranks second.

Fleury's contract, which expires after the 2018-19 season, has an average annual value of $5.75 million. He also has a no-movement clause and modified no-trade clause.

The Penguins normally are a team that places a high emphasis on such experience, but the emergence of rookie goalie Matt Murray and the ability to protect one goalie in the NHL Expansion Draft means Fleury could be available at the trade deadline.

Increasing the likelihood of his availability is the fact that Fleury, 32, is not having his best season. His .904 save percentage is his lowest since 2005-06 (.898), and it ranks 30th among the 42 goalies to play at least 20 games this season.

Even when expanding the analysis to look at the past three seasons combined, it's clear that Fleury no longer is among the League's top starters. His .917 save percentage is 18th among the 58 goalies to play at least 50 games, his .924 save percentage at even strength is 22nd, and his 80 quality starts in 146 starts results in a quality start percentage of 54.8 that ranks 25th, according to Hockey-Reference.  

Statistically he may be past his peak, but Fleury remains a consistent and dependable option who would represent an upgrade for several teams, and who can add experience to any two-goalie tandem.

Video: PIT@DET: Fleury stacks pads to rob Glendening

 

Kevin Shattenkirk, D, St. Louis Blues

Tremendous scoring totals could make Shattenkirk one of the most sought-after free agent defensemen in 2017, but his deployment in St. Louis introduces an element of uncertainty.

Shattenkirk is in the final season of a four-year contract with an average annual value of $4.25 million, and he can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

There's no question about Shattenkirk's ability to score. His 34 points in 50 games are fifth among NHL defensemen, and his 276 points in 460 NHL games since 2010-11 is 11th. However, that offensive success might have been boosted by his deployment.

In a player usage role mastered years ago by Keith Yandle of the Florida Panthers to optimize scoring, Shattenkirk is used primarily in the offensive zone and against secondary opponents, and he is assigned more time on the power play than killing penalties.

Since it's impossible to predict how Shattenkirk might perform in a different environment and/or in a more typical top-four role, it makes sense for an interested party to try before they buy and experiment with his usage down the stretch before making a big investment in the summer. Given that the Blues are 10-14-2 in their past 26 games, have a slim hold on the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference and fired coach Ken Hitchcock on Wednesday, it's possible they fall further in the standings and become more receptive to such trade proposals.

Video: STL@WPG: Shattenkirk, Stastny combine for nifty PPG

 

Ben Bishop, G, Tampa Bay Lightning

Bishop is the type of player who could solve a team's goaltending concerns on a long-term basis, or who could serve as an invaluable rental until becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer.

He's in the final season of a two-year contract with an average annual value of $5.95 million, and has a no-movement clause.

There is an element of risk at play, because this hasn't been a great season for Bishop or the Lightning. His .904 save percentage is the lowest of his five seasons with Tampa Bay, and is 29th among the 42 goalies to play at least 20 games. The Lightning are six points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference after back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Final in 2015 and 2016.

Setting aside this season's disappointments and judging Bishop on his three previous seasons reveals a tremendous upside. From 2013-14 to 2015-16, Bishop's .922 save percentage ranked fifth among the 57 goalies to play at least 50 games in that span, and he was a Vezina finalist in two of those three seasons.

A deeper dive into those numbers suggests that he may not have been one of the League's top goalies, but he was an above-average starter.

His .927 save percentage at even strength ranked 13th, but his overall numbers were boosted by a League-leading .906 save percentage against power plays. In terms of consistency, Bishop's 108 quality starts in 182 games works out to a quality start percentage of 59.3, which ranked 14th. That may not place Bishop at the elite level, but he would be an upgrade for most NHL teams. 

Video: BOS@TBL: Bishop goes post-to-post to rob Krug

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