Looking at Comparables for Mark Fayne's New Contract

With a somewhat shortened offseason looming, there are several questions to be answered. The biggest concern this offseason is obviously Zach Parise's future. However, that concern will be discussed later this month (and in greater depth as well). On the other hand, the Devils have a less pressing free agent concern- restricted free agent Mark Fayne. While his priority will be lower than that of Parise because of his RFA status, Fayne has been one of the better Devils defensemen this season- his 17 points are second on the team amongst regular defensemen and has been used against the opposition's top players on a regular basis. What complicates this even more is a relatively strong playoff performance, where he was one of the big reasons why the Devils were able to silence players like Claude Giroux and Brad Richards at even strength. With that being said, he's in line for a significant raise with his new contract. The question is how much should he be making next season?

To find some comparables for Fayne, I used Hockey-Reference.com to look at defensemen aged 24-25 who played in 2011-2012. To narrow the comparables down, i'm only going to look at defensmen with at least A) 65 GP and B) 15-25 points. This is mainly because there are a few offensive defensemen (Alexander Edler and Keith Yandle are the two notable standouts) in this group, and while Fayne can contribute offensively, he's probably going to be used in a defensive role going forward, which means he's probably not going to put up gaudy point totals.

Because Fayne isn't an offensive defenseman, I'm not going to compare these players by point totals, but rather by their defensive contributions, namely the quality of competition, shots against and goals against. I've also added in ATOI and Offensive zone start % just to paint a better picture about a player's usage.

Player

QualComp

Corsi Rel QoC

SA/60

GA/60

ATOI

OZS%

Mark Fayne

0.025

0.787

22.9

2.46

20:11

49.9

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

0.037

1.085

24.8

1.99

23:09

47.4

Ladislav Smid

0.049

1.366

25.4

2.32

20:54

49.3

Carl Gunnarson

0.071

1.145

26.4

2.48

21:42

45.4

Andrew MacDonald

0.024

0.628

26.6

2.42

23:22

47.9

Matt Niskanen

-0.044

-0.064

23.6

2.37

17:56

57.3

Jeff Petry

0.029

0.970

26.8

2.63

21:45

49.1

Niklas Hjarlmasson

0.010

0.738

23.0

2.09

20:10

52.0

Chris Butler

0.072

1.704

30.2

2.53

21:36

45.4

There are quite a few good comparables to Fayne here. The next part is finding who's the best possible comparable. The obvious outlier here is Matt Niskanen- who is the only player who faces weak competition and receives less than 20 minutes of average ice time, as well of one of two players who starts in the offensive zone over 50% of the time. To narrow the field down even further, Carl Gunnarson and Chris Butler can be excluded- both of them see a lot of defensive zone starts against very tough competition (with Butler getting pounded in his role). Most of the remaining players play in a similar role to Fayne- a first/second pairing defenseman who tend to be used in a defensive role.

The best possible comparable in this group for Fayne is Ladislav Smid. In terms of ice time and usage, they are both very similar. Both of them average around 20 minutes/game and both of them face the toughest competition amongst regular or healthy defensemen. Smid has finished the first of a two year, $4.5 million contract, which is his third NHL contract. I'd be happy if the Devils sign Fayne to a similar contract (2 years, $4 M-5M total) simply because it gives the Devils more flexibility, despite Fayne being a UFA at the end of the contract. Considering that Andy Greene and Anton Volchenkov are both under contract for the next few years (Greene for 3 more years, Volchenkov for 4 more years) and the amount of high end D prospects in the system (namely Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, Alex Urbom and Eric Gelinas) who should be . If Fayne does continue to prove that he's a solid top 4 option for the Devils, they can then sign him to a longer deal after the proposed new deal is done. If he isn't that great after signing the contract, the Devils can let him walk and replace him easily.

With all this being said, what do you think about Mark Fayne's next contract. Do you think a 2 year deal around $5 million would be a good deal, or would you be a fan of a longer term deal? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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