Which New Jersey Devils Forwards are Worth the Money?

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Something that has always interested me as a sports fan and a stats nerd is whether a player is earning the right amount of money. Unlike some further out statistics that might not be easily interpreted, everyone understands money. So, with eight games left in the season, I decided to see what Devils' forwards make per game, per goal and so on. Just as a note, I used the player's salaries, not cap hit.

After the jump I break down the forwards into two groups and explain what I found!

A warning before I begin talking about the numbers. When I analyze the cost per factor, it is assuming that the Devils are paying for that particular skill only. In real life, you do not pay a player for one skill, but it gets messy if you attempt to put a single number on each player while accounting for every aspect he is paid for. Make sense?

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The first group of players is those who make over $2 Million a season. That drops the number of skaters to five; I didn't count Travis Zajac since he hasn't played near a full season. Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise each make the most on the New Jersey Devils this season with $6MM. Patrik Elias make one million less while Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson each make around $3MM this season. Given the number of games they have played, Clarkson is the best deal by only costing about $40K per game. Clarkson is also the best deal if you pay per goal. Every goal Clarkson scores costs the Devils only $107K. Parise costs the most per goal, costing $214K per goal. Much of this discrepancy is that Clarkson is having his best season ever and he signed his contract when he wasn't playing at a stellar level, thus the Devils are getting a steal.

When we look at how much each assist costs, Clarkson is easily the most expensive. This doesn't surprise me for a second; Clarkson shoots a ton even when a pass might be the better idea. Since Clarkson shoots a bunch, he isn't passing and getting assists, therefore lowering his cost per assist. Looking at total offense, the best bang for the buck is Elias at $71K per point. The most expensive is Parise... So why do all the Devils fans still want to sign him when he costs the team a ton? O, right, offense isn't everything!

The reason I split the two groups is because these five are the players I believe to be heavily paid to score. The other group is not paid to score at the same levels as this group; they are paid to chip in on offense, and to have a strong all around game to prevent the other team from scoring.

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Notice that Alexei Ponikarovsky is italicized. This is because I only used the salary the Devils will have to pay and the stats he put up for the Devils. Otherwise it would be skewed. The best deal per game is Petr Sykora at $8.7K per game. This is kind of surprising because Sykora is older and I would have expected him to play less games, I’m glad I was wrong. Adam Henrique is just barely more expensive at $9.2K per game. If we look at the cost of every goal, we see that Sykora and Henrique are both very effective. Per assist, Henrique turns out to be very worthwhile. However, Henrique benefits from passing to Parise and Kovalchuk, two premier scorers. Per point, Henrique is again the best bang for the buck at $13.3K per point.

If you look at penalty minutes, Eric Boulton is the cheapest player to send to the box, Cam Janssen is only a couple grand behind him. I view this as a good thing for the Devils. Sure they are terrible players, but at least the Devils aren’t spending a ton to let them sit in the penalty box. Compared to the higher paid players on the Devils, the Devils are playing some of the low skilled players a lot of money to shoot the puck. So what exactly is Lou paying them for?

I hope you enjoyed this look at who is earning their keep this season. Who do you think is overpaid/underpaid on this team? Also, what would you pay your players for if you were Lou? Something measureable like TOI or points? Or would you pay for leadership and "locker room presence" as well?

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