The Price of Punches

Blake Murphy
June 16 2013 09:51AM


Screencap via hockeyfights.com,

Tom Sestito can punch a face. You could even say he's good at face-punching (though Hockeyfights.com voters appear to disagree). People seem to like that and I like a good tilt, too, and some even think it's a necessary skill required by Natioanl Hockey League hockey teams.

So some people are probably happy with the Canucks re-upping Sestito for two years at $750,000 per season. Because Tom Sestito can punch a face.

Unfortunately, Tom Sestito isn't particularly good at hockey.

You see, more important than even fighters are good hockey players. You can argue that the price is small and won't have an impact, but as Thomas Drance put it the other day, moves at the margin add up. There is an awful lot that goes into managing a hockey team and cap management is a big part of that. With that in mind here are some issues I have with the Sestito signing:

  • The Canucks don't have a coach yet. The team shouldn't really be making moves until that's figured out. What if the new bench boss isn't the type to employ a scrap-only player?
  • Tom Sestito isn't good at hockey. I mentioned this earlier but it's worth repeating. Sestito's Corsi Rel has been atrocious every single year, indicating that he's regularly been one of the worst players on his team. His basic Corsi has also been awful despite playing against really bad players, on average. He is also objectively bad beyond the statistics.
  • To the eyes, he also isn't good at hockey.
  • The Canucks are really tight to the cap. It's fine to fill the end of the bench with role players at a low cost, but this is a deal that absolutely could have been made a few weeks or months from now. In the interim, they've tied up assets and flexibility by committing a roster spot and a bit of cash to a player who is largely inconsequential.
  • There are probably guys available at a similar price who can punch a face and also play some hockey. This is my biggest complaint about the Sestito signing (or the Colt Knorr signing for the Leafs) - there are guys out there who are scrappy or gritty or whatever you want to call it, can drop the mitts and are capable penalty killers or third liners or what have you.

Now, to be fair, here are some things I like about the signing:

*file footage not found

Look, I understand some teams, fans and coaches will want a guy at the end of the bench who can "go." These guys exist, whether I like it or not. If the Canucks wanted a Sestito eventually, I wouldn't argue. But to do it this early, with a second year guaranteed, and with so much uncertainty still surrounding the team, was a mistake in my view.

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Blake is a news editor at The Score and also writes basketball for Raptors Republic and baseball at Fangraphs/Rotographs. As such, he doesn't write at TLN nearly as much as he should. Give him a follow @BlakeMurphyODC.
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#1 DCR
June 16 2013, 10:41AM
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Looking at the way they trotted him out at the Comets unveiling, I wouldn't be surprised if his signing has something to do with Utica and the AHL, especially as his salary's low enough that they can put him in the minors without any sort of cap hit.

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#2 Fred-65
June 16 2013, 11:14AM
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Lets just hope that who ever the new coach is permits the tough guys to leave the bench occassionally AV liked to staple them to the bench for the most part. Few teams came to Vcr thinking this is going to be a tough night tonight. The fourth line does not need to be the line of loosers, those guys need to fit in occassionally on to other lines and flex. Winning league game is not as important as garnering a repuatation for a tough team IMO

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#3 orcasfan
June 16 2013, 12:27PM
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As any good, smart coach, AV's task is to put the best combination of players on the ice that gives the team the best chance of winning (and, yes, of course, winning games is more important than a good fight!). He didn't play Sestito much because he put the team at a disadvantage every time he was on the ice! I am becoming more and more disgruntled with Gillis as these kinds of moves occur. I just don't understand why we need this kind of bench-warmer, and why sign him now, even if they decide a goon is required?

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#4 NM00
June 16 2013, 02:03PM
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The term is the oddest thing to me about all of this.

I just can't imagine the Sestito camp refusing to sign a 1 year deal for $750,000.

This is a player any team could have claimed off waivers not long ago. How exactly has his market value gone up to the point of warranting a TWO year contract?

And, on a different note, in a world where Sestito gets 2 years and $1.5 million & Josi gets 7 years and $28 million, what are the prices for Weise, Lapierre's replacement and Tanev going to be?

Maybe the reason the Canucks haven't engaged with Lappiere's camp is because Lapierre feels he can get a 3 year $6 million deal on the open market.

I originally thought Tanev could be signed for 2 years and $3 million. Now it looks like it might be more like 2 years and $5 million or 3 years and $12 million...

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#5 Fred-65
June 16 2013, 03:50PM
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@orcasfan

It's not a question of is a win meaning more meaningful than a fight. It's about estabilishing a repuation and a team profile that holds good come the play-offs. We don't do well in the play-offs...I'm sure we've all noticed and winning games in February does nothing to rectfy the situation. This team needs frankly a repuation for playing a robust game and if teams don't like it to bad. Vcr is soft, that's their resputation and like it or not opposing coaches know how the handle us come the play-offs. You don't have to a rocket scientist

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#6 JCDavies
June 16 2013, 06:24PM
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@NM00

"The term is the oddest thing to me about all of this. "

This. It makes no sense at all.

@Fred-65

But is signing Sestito the right way to achieve this ...

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