Alex Tanguay vs. Radim Vrbata

by Rick Roos on May 20, 2015
RadimVrbata

 

In analyzing cost vs. value, who is the better fantasy own – Tanguay or Vrbata? Roos explains

 

One of the most difficult decisions for poolies is whether to continue to count on veterans to produce, as for every grey beard who plays at a high level into his mid to late 30s there are countless others whose production falls off a cliff despite looking poised to remain fantasy-worthy. With that in mind, facing off today are Alex Tanguay and Radim Vrbata, to see who’ll make the most “cost vs. value” sense to have on your team for 2015-16 and which is more likely to continue to produce overall. Cage Match starts now!

 

Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Implications

 

Tanguay passed the 1000 game milestone in 2014-15, having originally been selected 12th overall in 1998 by the same Avs team for which he’s now again lacing up his skates. And although Tanguay hasn’t posted 70+ points since 2006-07 (after posting 77+ in four of his first seven seasons), he’s had only one subpar season (2009-10) and achieved a scoring rate of 55+ points in each of his past four campaigns.

Vrbata was drafted 212th overall by Colorado in 1999 – the same season Tanguay debuted for the team. And despite scoring 60 points in 118 games for the Avs, Vrbata was dished to the Hurricanes at the 2003 deadline in exchange for veteran playoff help.

After parts of three campaigns in Carolina where he spun his wheels, Vrbata was acquired by Chicago, making an instant impact (34 points in 45 games) then posting 41 points in 77 games in 2006-07. Yet he found himself traded in the 2007 offseason, landing in Phoenix, where his production jumped to 56 points in 76 games in 2007-08 to secure himself a nice UFA deal with Tampa.

But he left the Lightning during his first season there, and upon wanting to rejoin the team was told he was no longer needed, which led to his return to Phoenix and, ultimately, to top production (90 points in 111 games in 2011-12 and 2012-13). After a bit of a letdown in 2013-14 (51 points in 80 games), Vrbata inked a deal to come to Vancouver, where he posted a career high 63 points in only 79 games, topping the 30 goal mark again.

Tanguay will earn 50% less than Vrbata ($3.5M vs. $5.0M) in 2015-16, after which both players are set to be UFAs.

 

Ice Time

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards

2014-15

18:09 (A.T.) – 4th

16:36 (R.V.) – 4th

2:23 (A.T.) – 5th

2:54 (R.V.) – 3rd

1:25 (A.T.) – 4th

0:05 (R.V.) – 11th

2013-14

17:16 (A.T.) – 6th

17:57 (R.V.) – 5th

2:49 (A.T.) – 1st

2:48 (R.V.) – 3rd

0:47 (A.T.) – 6th

0:24 (R.V.) – 9th

2012-13

19:21 (A.T.) – 1st

18:18 (R.V.) – 3rd

3:01 (A.T.) – 2nd

3:14 (R.V.) – 1st

1:18 (A.T.) – 5th

0:17 (R.V.) – 8th

2011-12

19:02 (A.T.) – 2nd

18:38 (R.V.) – 2nd (tied)

3:14 (A.T.) – 2nd

3:13 (R.V.) – 2nd

1:21 (A.T.) – 7th

1:16 (R.V.) – 4th

 

Here again we see an example of how Total Ice Time can be misleading, as although Tanguay enjoyed 1:33 more than Vrbata in 2014-15, if we subtract unproductive SH Ice Time the difference shrinks to only 13 seconds. And beyond that – we see Vrbata had 31 more seconds of PP Ice Time; and it was true “first unit” time (skating upwards of 90% of PP shifts with the Sedins, according to Frozen Pool), whereas Tanguay played with a wide variety of players (who, in turn, had a similarly wide skill range) on the Colorado man advantage.

Moreover, Vrbata’s SH Ice Time has cratered while Tanguay’s dropped for two straight seasons but then rose again in 2014-15 to be the highest of these past four campaigns. At the same time, Tanguay’s PP Ice Time has fallen for three straight seasons (including by 0:26 from 2013-14 to 2014-15) while Vrbata’s has dipped a bit but is generally holding steady.

Beyond that – one argument many might make against Vrbata is that his production is less about Ice Time and more about being stapled to Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. But it’s interesting to note that Vrbata posted 18 of his 63 points without being on the ice with either of the Sedins, so while playing with them is certainly a blessing, it wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world if he wasn’t on their line for a few games. Plus, the fact that he demonstrated good chemistry with them goes a long way toward keeping him on their line for 2015-16.

As for Tanguay, his outlook is gloomy given his PP and SH trends, plus the fact that he plays for a team with a fairly deep top nine. Unless he was especially unlucky for 2014-15, I’d imagine that repeating his 55 point production in 2015-16 likely would be unrealistic, with 50 points being perhaps more of a plausible output.

 

Secondary Categories

 

Season

PIMs

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2014-15

0.50 (A.T.)

0.25 (R.V.)

0.56 (A.T.)

0.55 (R.V.)

0.48 (A.T.)

0.31 (R.V.)

1.30 (A.T.)

3.38 (R.V.)

0.17 (A.T.)

0.29 (R.V.)

2013-14

0.25 (A.T.)

0.27 (R.V.)

0.50 (A.T.)

0.85 (R.V.)

0.50 (A.T.)

0.33 (R.V.)

1.50 (A.T.)

3.28 (R.V.)

0.12 (A.T.)

0.26 (R.V.)

2012-13

0.55 (A.T.)

0.41 (R.V.)

0.60 (A.T.)

0.76 (R.V.)

0.70 (A.T.)

0.41 (R.V.)

1.10 (A.T.)

3.11 (R.V.)

0.22 (A.T.)

0.35 (R.V.)

2011-12

0.43 (A.T.)

0.31 (R.V.)

0.34 (A.T.)

0.74 (R.V.)

0.73 (A.T.)

0.20 (R.V.)

1.31 (A.T.)

3.01 (R.V.)

0.23 (A.T.)

0.22 (R.V.)

 

Simply put – Tanguay is a borderline category killer in leagues that place a premium on Shots or count them as one of fewer than eight total categories. And although Tanguay has managed to up his Shots rate a tad since coming to Colorado, that’s been accompanied by a drop in PP production while his formerly notable output in Blocked Shots dropped to merely above average for a forward.

Meanwhile, Vrbata has scoffed at father time, as each year of his 30s has seen his Shots per game average increase while his PP points output has stayed above one per every four games during the past three seasons. The news isn’t all great, however, as his move to Vancouver resulted in his worst output in PIM, Hits, and Blocked Shots among the past four seasons.

 

Luck-Based Metrics

Because Tanguay played only 16 games in 2013-14, he didn’t meet the 50+ minute minimum for his 5×4 IPP to be charted.

 

Season

Personal Shooting %

PDO (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)

2014-15

21.2% (A.T.)

11.6% (R.V.)

1025 (A.T.)

1004 (R.V.)

76.6% (A.T.)

84.6% (R.V.)

80.0% (A.T.)

62.5% (R.V.)

45.9% (A.T.)

52.7% (R.V.)

2013-14

16.7% (A.T.)

7.6% (R.V.)

1049 (A.T.)

990 (R.V.)

61.5% (A.T.)

63.6% (R.V.)

N/A (A.T.)

76.2% (R.V.)

42.9% (A.T.)

53.5% (R.V.)

2012-13

25.0% (A.T.)

11.3% (R.V.)

962 (A.T.)

1023 (R.V.)

80.0% (A.T.)

77.8% (R.V.)

58.3% (A.T.)

77.8% (R.V.)

45.2% (A.T.)

62.3% (R.V.)

2011-12

15.5% (A.T.)

15.1% (R.V.)

1031 (A.T.)

1038 (R.V.)

71.4% (A.T.)

77.6% (R.V.)

66.7% (A.T.)

66.7% (R.V.)

49.6% (A.T.)

52.8% (R.V.)

 

Tanguay’s Personal Shooting % jumps off the page immediately, although if we combine his numbers from the past four seasons we get 19.5%, which is essentially equal to his career average of 18.9%, so no issues there. But where we should be worried is that his OZ% has been below 46% for three straight seasons. Why the concern? No forward who had a lower OZ% than Tanguay’s 45.9% in 2014-15 scored 60+ points. In fact, the lowest OZ% of any 60+ point scorer for 2014-15 was Sean Monahan, whose OZ% was 47.1%.

Beyond that, although Tanguay has shown he’s a reliable IPP guy, his 80.0% at 5×4 was quite high even for him. If it had been the 62.5% that he’d averaged in 2011-12 and 2012-13, then his PP output drops by three, and suddenly he’s barely a 50+ point player.

At first glance there could be concern about Vrbata’s Personal Shooting %, since his career average is only 9.5%, which would’ve translated to six fewer goals in 2014-15. But if we look closer, we see that despite his Shots totals increasing in three straight seasons he managed to shoot well above 9.5% in two of those seasons, plus posted a 15.1% rate in 2011.12. If we examine just those four seasons, his percentage is 11.3%, which happens to be less than his 2014-15 number. And although his 5×5 IPP was higher than his average from the past three seasons, his 5×4 IPP was lower; and had he posted (for 2014-15) IPPs that were identical to the averages from 2011-12 to 2013-14, the net effect would’ve been a reduction by only two points.

Long story short – Vrbata’s 63 points in 2014-15 was no mirage, especially since it also came with a very sustainable OZ% that – unlike Tanguay’s – is conductive to being able to continue to score 60+ points.

 

Value and Injuries

Both players were cost vs. value bargains in 2014-15, but Vrbata far more so than Tanguay. Vrbata was drafted as – on average – the 46th RW (his only eligible position) in Yahoo leagues, but finished the year as the 13th rated RW and owned in 82% of leagues. Tanguay had LW/RW eligibility and was drafted as the 60th LW (55th RW) on average in Yahoo leagues, finishing at 26% owned and rated as the 45th best RW (but not among the top 50 LWs).

As for their injury history, Tanguay has earned his spot as a trainee on the Band-Aid Boy list, and I might argue he’s ready to graduate to certified band-aid boy status, what with only three seasons of 79+ games in his past seven campaigns, coupled with missing 62, 8, 18, and 32 in the other four. Meanwhile, since becoming an NHL regular in 2006-07 Vrbata has only missed more than six games once, and that was when he voluntarily departed the Lightning. No question that Vrbata has a clear-cut advantage over Tanguay in this area.

 

Who Wins?

Sometimes in making my winner picks, I have to go to great lengths to explain that I did so not based purely on who stands most likely to be the best fantasy performer, but instead on what I feel is a more important factor, namely who will represent the best player in terms of cost vs. value. In other words, if player A stands to give your team 20% better production than player B but player A would cost you 40% more to obtain (by draft or trade) than player B, then the “winner” generally should be player B.

Going into this match, I correctly figured Vrbata is poised to be the better fantasy producer going forward, but wondered whether he – or Tanguay – would win the match based on all-important cost versus value. But clearly Vrbata wins there too, and by a wide margin. And not only that – Tanguay is a rare example of a player where essentially all key factors point to him doing worse next season, to the tune of maybe having a chance at 50 points, but more likely finishing closer to 45 instead.

Thus, while Vrbata definitely will cost you more to obtain for 2015-16 than he did for last season, he looks like a reliable investment for those in one year leagues or even poolies in keepers who are trying to go for a win in the next season or two. Meanwhile, Tanguay is someone to avoid, as likely he’ll be valued right at 55 points; and only if everything goes perfectly does he even stand a chance of coming close to that mark. Avoid Tanguay come draft day; and if you have him on a team now, either don’t retain him or, in very deep leagues, keep him with an eye toward dishing him to another team once he hits a decent hot streak, since it won’t be sustainable.

 

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