It’s a new day, which means there’s a new defenceman on waivers that raises the question of whether or not the Vancouver Canucks should theoretically be interested in their services.
First it was David Rundblad, who despite seeming like a pretty obvious candidate for the team to take a low-risk flier on, not only passed through waivers but has since left the continent entirely for greener pastures. Then it was Brandon Gormley, who likewise appeared to be an intriguing option that was available for peanuts. The Canucks (and everyone else) let him go unclaimed as well.
You’re up, Jakub Kindl.
Kindl is a curious case study. From what I’ve gathered he’s drawn the ire of Red Wings fans over the years as a player that makes too many costly mistakes, presenting something of a liability to his team. Heated fans generally aren’t the most reliable source when it comes to properly evaluating their own assets, though. Particularly when it comes to players – like, say, an Alex Edler as a relevant example – that are prone to committing the occasional particularly glaring error that sticks out like a sore thumb, masking all of the other subtly effective things they do otherwise.
The reason why all of that’s interesting is that the numbers themselves don’t appear to agree with those assertions. If Kindl really were such a drag, you’d figure that given enough time it’d manifest itself in the underlying data. With nearly 300 games to work with, the statistical profile should in theory bear out those faults. That’s not really the case. Since becoming an NHL regular back in ’10-’11, during the course of five-on-five play his team has controlled 54.3% of all shot attempts, 53.5% of all scoring chances, and 55.2% of all goals. All of those rates seem high because the Red Wings have generally been a very strong even strength team over that time, but they’re also all in the black relative to what happens when he’s not on the ice in each of those categories.
That’s not to say that he’s without his flaws, because he certainly is. If he weren’t, he surely wouldn’t find himself on waivers at the moment with his future in doubt. He’s hasn’t been relied upon to handle the toughest of minutes throughout his career by any means, and he’s been prone to taking his fair share of penalties. Given that he’s approaching his 30s there likely isn’t a significant room for growth for him at this point of his career.
When you put all of those pieces to the puzzle together, it’s tough to argue that he wouldn’t be an improvement over what the Canucks are currently trotting out as part of its defense corps. Then again, considering how attainable an accomplishment that is these days maybe it’s not exactly saying as much about Kindl himself as it is about the current landscape in Vancouver this year.
The more relevant question may very well be whether attempting to improve the team in the short-term is what the Canucks should actually be doing to begin with. From the outside looking in it’s abundantly clear that it would be ill-advised to commit to doing so, given all of the evidence we have to suggest that they’re not a very good hockey team. If we were convinced that the front office was fully invested in devoting all of its resources and attention to the future while selling off all of the older spare parts between now and the deadline, then a guy like Kindl would instantly become significantly less appealing based on the aforementioned age and upside.
The tricky thing with that line of thinking however is that based on the recent comments emanating from Jim Benning and the utter wasteland that is the Pacific Division, we’re left to work under the assumption that they are still misguidedly trying to stay afloat in the “race” (for lack of a better term) for the time being.
If that’s the case, then Jakub Kindl seems like a worthwhile option while he’s available for nothing other than the $2.4 million cap hit he carries. He has two functioning legs, hands, and hasn’t provided us with any reason to believe that he can’t skate and chew gum at the same time. And unlike the other two guys they haven’t bit on, he’s also been a perfectly serviceable player for a couple of years now all things considered. These are all somehow distinguishing qualities these days as it relates to Canucks defencemen.