A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Tarnstrom awarded $1.6M, and the Penguins woeful +/- category

Dick Tarnstrom was one of 11 players to file for arbitration, but the only one who actually went. The other 10 came to agreement with their team before their scheduled hearing.
Arbitrators awarded the defenseman a one-year $1.6M contract, but the Penguins are not obligated to honor it. They may trade his rights or simply reject it, which would allow him to go on the UFA market. They have until Monday to make a decision.
Although it isn't clear who was asking for what, the $1.6M amounts to a 45% raise over his 2003-04 salary of $1.1M. Tarnstrom's agent called it "fair", and indicated that it was less than what he wanted but "well above" what the Pens offered.

Although the 30-year-old lead the Penguins in scoring in 2003-04 (16/36/52), there's one other statistic that should be in bold, italicized, underlined, supersized font. He was a -37 that season. The only player in the entirety of the NHL who had a worse +/- was his teammate Rico Fata, with a stunningly bad -46. Actually, the bottom three are all Pens. Defenseman Brooks Orpik(-36), Tarnstrom, and center/winger Fata. Just above them is the otherwise brilliant Rick Nash, who somehow managed to finish with a -35.
I know, I know. The Pens were weak offensively. But take a look at the Carolina Hurricanes. We were dead last in the Goals For category, but our worst +/- rating was a -14 for Ryan Bayda. The Pens, on the other hand had four players with a -30 or worse (the fourth was winger Konstantin Koltsov with a -30). What's going on up there?

1 comment:

Acorn Express said...

There is actually a reasonable explanation to Tarnstrom's dismal +/- rating. Although the 'Canes scored 18 less goals than the Penguins of '03-'04, the Penguins surrendered an amazing 94 more goals than Carolina allowed. Add to that the fact that Tarnstrom also led the Penguins in ice-time and you are looking at a recipe for disaster. (Fata, by the way also logged his fair share of ice time as well, as any 1st or 2nd line player will. Even Ryan Malone who led all Pens forwards in scoring was a -23.)

Tarnstom was awarded his contract based on his offensive skills. The reason his case went to arbitration in the first place is, I believe, the fact that the Penguins landed Sergei Gonchar through free-agency and didn't really have the need for two offensive styled defensmen. The Penguins didn't want him and were hoping to trade him before arbitration, but were forced to sign him because they couldn't trade him and they didn't want to just release him either and risk getting nothing in return for him.

I think 1.6 M is a small price to pay for an offensive-defenseman, especially if the new rules changes open the game up as expected. Tarnstrom will be a valuable commodity in which some team will eventually trade for, so the Penguins made the right call on him, and I don't think Dickie T was "awarded with a pay raise" despite his and the Penguins prior defensive ineptitude. It was more of a compromise out of necessity. Still, it says a lot about the kind of team Pittsburgh put on the ice in '03-'04 when a defenseman leads the team in scoring! (And power-play goals!)

Good blog David! Very interesting and informative.


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