Challenges on the way
New teams in Seattle and Quebec City would have a tough first season
As this week's mock expansion draft of the Seattle Metropolitans and the Quebec City Nordiques has illustrated, there would not be many star players available in a real expansion draft -- not without a very loose definition of the concept of a "star player." Whether virtual or real, an expansion draft becomes an exercise in "one man's trash is another man's treasure."
Or as we in the hockey analytics community might say, it becomes a search for "Moneypuck" players.
"Moneypuck" players are those who are undervalued because of a poor season, a stretch of bad luck, an injury or illness, advancing age, a lack of size or speed, or the infamous intangible issues, all while being underappreciated for tough defensive assignments, penalty killing, possession skills, shot-blocking, or faceoff expertise. Or maybe they're underappreciated for scoring only at a moderate level when not afforded top-six minutes or prime power-play ice time.
There were a few such players left on the board by the two mock general managers, players who might have made their teams more competitive. But more on them later.
Let's first take a look at the players chosen by Seattle and Quebec City to see how Hockey Prospectus' VUKOTA projections believes they will do in 2013-14. Each player's value to his respective team is measured in Goals Versus Threshold (GVT). GVT provides an overall measure of how many goals a player is worth, compared to an easily obtainable replacement such as an AHL call-up or waiver-wire pickup. Every three GVT translates into one additional point in the standings.
Bear in mind that both GMs did make their picks with the long-term health of the franchise in mind, and particularly in Quebec's case, having the strength of the team on defense did put it at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of GVT.
Seppa's Take on Seattle
With a comparatively whopping 9.3 GVT, the most valuable player chosen in the entire mock draft was Calgary's Lee Stempniak, an occasionally maligned but solid top-six forward who plays on both special teams. Stempniak, worth three standings points himself, is the biggest reason for Seattle's slight edge over Quebec City in our projections.