(Kent is a Flames fan/Flames Nation contributor and therefore a card-carrying member of the "Canucks Haters" club. He’s also learned to shelve his disdain for Vancouver the last few years, instead replacing it with grudging respect. He’ll be chipping in around here now and then)
The newest Canuck had quite the season of extremes last year. Cam Davies did a good job teeing up the Raffi Torres signing below, but the details of the player bear further examination.
A 19 goal scorer last year and a two-time 20 goal getter, Torres came pretty cheap this summer at $1M. The causes are two-fold: a stagnant buyers market in the UFA pool and a rotten run of results for Torres in Buffalo after he was acquired at the trade deadline. The first issue is just an ugly fact of life for any UFA who happens to be left of the inital frenzy in July.
The second issue may be something of a concern for Canucks fans. Grabbed by BUF to buff up their depth, Torres went scoreless through 19 straight contests (including 4 in the post-season) before ending up a healthy scratch. Quite the reversal from his efforts with the Blue Jackets, where his 19 goals and 31 points in 60 games placed him amongst the team leaders. So what happened?
His role didn’t appreciably change from one team to the other – he even recieved comparable PP time in each location (2:03/game in Buff vs. 2:18 in CBJ). What did change was the bounces: Torres’ personal SH% fell from a career high 19.2% with CBJ to a can’t-get-any-worse 0% in BUF. Absent a significant injury, that’s probably just a regression to the mean after riding some good fortune. Bad shot strings can happen to any player and unfortunately for the Sabres, Torres hit his in their jersey last year.
It was just bad bounces coming off his own stick however: Torres on-ice percentages went into the toilet across the board. Thanks to Timeonice, we cans see that Torres spent more time in the offensive zone than otherwise as a Sabre (corsi ratio = 50.5%), but his PDO (on-ice SH% + SV%) was a terrible 96.4 (.905 + 5.9). The club’s average over that period was 100.6 (91.8 + 8.8) suggesting Torres was either one of the worst players in the league at the time (an assertion contradicted by his decent corsi rating) or just plain unlucky. PDO number are notoriously unstable, especially over small samples, and tend to regress to the mean of 100 over time. Chances are Torres bad results were more borne of bad luck than bad play, therefore.
In short, don’t regard his time in BUF as a true reflection of the player. His totals from last season (19 goals, 36 points) are probably more indicative of his abilities than a couple of weeks of bad luck. Torres isn’t a superstar and he’s not going to become a gamechanger on his own, but at $1M/year and as a capable third liner who can knock people down and chip in on the PP, the Canucks have a really good bet contract on their hands. He was well liked as a mean-spirited, hard-nosed SOB during his days in Edmonton and will likely win fans in Vancouver for similar reasons.