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Using the DAWG Rating formula to evaluate 6 free agent forwards that the Canucks could target

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Photo credit:© Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Faber
By Faber
11 months ago
In the end, it all comes down to the DAWG Rating in my humble opinion.
The Vancouver Canucks now have cap space and free agency is looming like the clouds over British Columbia through the first half of June.
CanucksArmy is the home of the DAWG Rating and we will use it to evaluate some of the potential free agent targets for the Canucks in free agency.
We will measure who has that DAWG in them. The DAWG Rating (Doing All to Win Games) measures a player’s willingness to be physically involved, their ability to set up offensive chances for their linemates, play in the first two-thirds of the ice with regards to moving the puck in the right direction, and also the ability of a player getting to the net for high-danger scoring chances. Statistics are weighed differently and the balance of scoring chances and physicality is both tracked from the six publicly available statistics as well as the manually tracked plays that weigh in on the equation.
We just don’t have time to watch all 82 games of these free agents, so we’ve tracked eight random games of each and averaged it out to find the manually-tracked stats that we need to compile a player’s DAWG Rating.
You can learn more about the DAWG Rating in this article.
With all that being said, let’s run these players’ numbers and find out who has that DAWG in them!
You’ve likely seen some articles talking about potential free agent targets for the Canucks and we’ve also reported rumours that have come out about the Canucks potentially showing interest in some of these forwards.
On our list, we’ve got five centres: Ryan O’Reilly, Evan Rodrigues, David Kampf, Nick Bjugstad Jordan Staal. And one winger with Alex Kerfoot.
Let’s count down from worst to first on who ranks the highest from our DAWG Rating formula.
For reference, here are the Canucks’ DAWG Rating numbers under Rick Tocchet.
Let’s go!
Evan Rodrigues, C/W, 5’11” — DAWG Rating: 45.62
The worst of the bunch in terms of the DAWG Rating is Colorado Avalanche centre Evan Rodrigues. He finished last season with 16 goals and 23 assists in 69 games with the Avalanche.
He’s not a very physical player but had decent offensive numbers. In the faceoff dot, Rodrigues won 49.4% of his 241 faceoffs last season and was used on the power play for most of the season and did get a little bit of time on penalty kill as well.
If the Canucks are looking to go for an offensive third-line centre, Rodrigues may be one of the better options when you are looking away from the top-tier available centres in this free agency class.
You’d like to see a DAWG rating be a bit higher but maybe Rick Tocchet can bring that DAWG out of him a bit.
Frank Seravalli’s contract prediction for Rodrigues is three years at $3,700,000.
Ryan O’Reilly, C, 6’1″ — DAWG Rating: 46.64
He’s just a hair ahead of Rodrigues but was a centre through and through this past season. O’Reilly won 55.8% of his faceoffs this season including a 62% win percentage in his 13 regular season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
O’Reilly will turn 33 years old this coming season and the worry is that his game is beginning to fall off compared to what he was in his prime. He certainly plays the centre position well but likely is a strong third-line centre instead of the top-six staple he has been for most of his career.
He’s going to cost you a lot of money and if probably one of the players to stay away from if you want to keep some cap flexibility — something the Canucks should try to do this offseason.
One big positive is that O’Reilly can play on both special teams units and is great in the faceoff dot on the penalty kill.
Seravalli’s projected contract for O’Reilly is three years at $5,500,000.
Is that too much for a 46.64 DAWG Rating centre?
David Kampf, C, 6’2″ — DAWG Rating: 56.70
If you’re looking for a defensive-minded centre, David Kampf is your man in free agency this summer. His DAWG Rating is pretty solid but probably should get a boost from his iron man streak. Kampf has not missed a game over the past two seasons, he put up seven goals and added 20 assists in 82 games with the Leafs last season. Kampf was good in the faceoff dot, winning 51.5% of his 1147 draws.
You’re getting a solid penalty killer here with Kampf and he is not going to cost you an arm or a leg. The downside is the lack of offence but he will certainly boost your shorthanded unit.
Charts from HockeyViz.
Seravalli projects Kampf’s contract to come in at two years with an average annual value of $1,800,000.
There may not be a lot of offence there but he’s got size and will bring a lot to the first two-thirds of the ice.
Alex Kerfoot, LW/RW, 5’11” — DAWG Rating: 62.98
We are starting to get into some higher DAWG Ratings here with our only pure winger of the bunch in Alex Kerfoot.
Kerfoot is also in the camp of being an iron man. He has not missed a game over the past two seasons which kind of comes as a surprise in regards to how often Leafs fans whine about him.
The value of Kerfoot comes from his solid play on both special teams’ units. He can bring energy to the penalty kill and also has good enough hands to see time on a second power play unit. At five-on-five, Kerfoot is solid defensively but leaves more to be desired in the offensive zone. He has been a 40-point producer in three of his six NHL seasons and is solid depth for a lineup.
If the money makes sense, we can see Kerfoot coming home and playing for his home province’s team. He is one of the younger players on the list at just 28 years old, so he’s got youth on his side… for now.
The worry is the money. Seravalli has predicted Kerfoot’s salary to be four years with an AAV of $3,500,000.
That’s just not where the Canucks need to spend their money.
Jordan Staal, C, 6’4″ — DAWG Rating: 71.19
Even at the age of 34, Jordan Staal still has some DAWG left in him.
Throughout his career, Staal has been looked at in the upper-echelon of defensive centres. He has been in the top-30 of Selke Trophy voting 13 times through his 17-year NHL career.
Staal has really found a good spot with the Carolina Hurricanes over the past three seasons. He’s seen his minutes fall as he ages but he is still very effective in his own zone and can chip in offence, putting up 34 goals over the past two seasons, with 32 of those goals coming at even-strength. On top of all we’ve mentioned, Staal is excellent in the faceoff dot — posting a 56.9% win percentage over the past three seasons where he took a total of 3842 faceoffs.
We worry about Staal a bit because he’s getting older and has found comfortability with the Hurricanes — the team he has been with since the 2012-13 season.
He feels like a great veteran addition to the room and would certainly help on the penalty kill as well as provide some depth and scoring to the bottom of the lineup.
It would come down to term and money on Staal. Seravalli has his projection set at two years on a $3,200,000 AAV.
That’s not too much if you can get solid defensive play, penalty-killing minutes and another 17 goals from your third-line centre.
Maybe if he can get under $3,000,000 its a ok deal? Rick Tocchet does like his size and Staal is a certified professional but will his age catch up to him next season?
UPDATE: There are lots of reports out there that Staal is re-signing with Carolina.
Nick Bjugstad, C, 6’6″ — DAWG Rating: 77.50
For the price that he will likely come in at, 30-year-old Nick Bjugstad may be the most bang for your buck in the free agent centre class this summer.
You’re not likely going to have to pay a ton unless we see a bidding war for the 6’6″, right-shot centre. Seravalli projected the contract to be two years with $2,300,000 AAV.
Bjugstad played in Edmonton’s bottom-six after the trade deadline and provided good defensive-minded play from the centre position. He wasn’t good on Edmonton’s penalty kill but he has reinvented his game over the years to be someone who can eat up minutes when down a man or two. He uses his size well, throwing 2.2 hits per game last season. There’s some offence there as well, Bjugstad finished the 2022-23 season with 17 goals and 12 assists in 78 games between the Arizona Coyotes and Oilers.
He scored a couple of big goals for the Oilers in the playoffs but for the most part, was used sparingly as a depth centre in the lineup. Asking him to play 3C for your team comes with some risk and if you are getting locked in on Bjugstad for more than two years at more than $2,000,000 AAV, there’s certainly some risk.
One thing is for sure, Bjugstad is big. At 6’6″, maybe he is the right third-line centre for the way that Rick Tocchet wants to see his lineup come together. Bjugstad may not have great offensive analytics but he shows the highest on our list in terms of the DAWG Rating.
And for that, we’d think he would be a solid signing to fill that 3C role if he comes in around $2,000,000 and doesn’t have more than two years of term.
That wraps up our list of possible free agent forwards for the Canucks to target and what their DAWG Rating number is. We will get to some defencemen now!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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