Scott Hartnell vs. Ryan Callahan

by Rick Roos on April 22, 2015


Who is the better fantasy own – Scott Hartnell or Ryan Callahan? Rick Roos delves deeper…


This week we turn our focus back to wingers, with rough and tumble Scott Hartnell and Ryan Callahan facing off. Both had among their best career seasons in 2014-15 despite it being their first full campaigns for their newest teams and each now being north of age 30. Should we expect more of the same in 2015-16 and even beyond, or do signs point to either or both being at risk for diminished production in the near future? Cage Match stats now!


Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Implications

Hartnell was drafted 6th overall in 2000 by Nashville and went directly into the NHL that fall. But ultimately he didn’t succeed in Music City, topping 41 points on only one occasion in six seasons. Things improved once he landed in Philly (as part of the major deal that saw the Preds acquire Peter Forsberg in exchange for Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen), where he tallied 0.5 points per game in each of his six full seasons, even hitting 60+ twice. And his numbers were trending up, having posted 119 points in 160 games (61 point full season pace) over his final two full seasons as a Flyer.

Last summer Hartnell was traded yet again, this time for R.J. Umberger and a fourth rounder. And sure enough, Hartnell’s doing his best to make that deal look as lopsided as the one where he was previously dealt, as in 2014-15 – at age 33 – he posted 60+ points for the third time in his career.

Callahan wasn’t selected until pick 127 overall in the 2004 draft, but blossomed in his final OHL season and 71 AHL campaigns stretched over two years. Success didn’t greet him upon arriving in the Big Apple, however, as he posted a meager 19 points in 66 NHL games sandwiched between his AHL stints.

And although Callahan never surpassed the 54 point mark in a single campaign while in the Big Apple, he did tally 85 points in his final 121 Ranger games during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons (57 point full season pace), before limping – literally and figuratively – to the finish line there in 2013-14, with 25 points in his final 45 games for New York. And after a slow start with Tampa (11 points in 20 games) following his trade there at the 2014 deadline, Callahan proceeded to tie his career high in points and +/- while posting his second most goals in a season during 2014-15 for the Lightning.

Both players have four years remaining on their current deals, with Hartnell’s counting $4.75M per year against the cap compared to $5.8M for Callahan.


Ice Time



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


17:17 (S.H.) – 5th

17:44 (R.C.) – 3rd

2:39 (S.H.) – 2nd

3:02 (R.C.) – 3rd

0:03 (S.H.) – 15th (tied)

0:10 (R.C.) – 10th


16:52 (S.H.) – 5th

17:56 (R.C. – NYR) – 4th

20:13 (R.C. – TBL) – 3rd

3:18 (S.H.) – 4th

1:48 (R.C. – NYR) – 9th

3:45 (R.C. – TBL) – 2nd

0:04 (S.H.) – 10th

1:19 (R.C. – NYR) – 6th

1:34 (R.C. – TBL) – 4th


15:52 (S.H.) – 6th

21:30 (R.C.) – 1st

2:57 (S.H.) – 4th

3:12 (R.C.) – 2nd

0:02 (S.H.) – 9th (tied)

2:33 (R.C.) – 1st


17:46 (S.H.) – 2nd

21:02 (R.C.) – 1st

3:12 (S.H.) – 5th (tied)

3:42 (R.C.) – 2nd

0:05 (S.H.) – 10th

1:48 (R.C.) – 2nd


Hartnell would appear to have an Ice Time to scoring correlation, as his two 60+ seasons among these four (2011-12: 67 in 82 games; 2014-15: 60 in 77) coincided with him receiving productive Ice Time (i.e., Total Ice Time minus SH Ice Time) of 17:14 or more. Yet if we examine 2014-15 as compared to 2013-14 (when he scored eight fewer points in 78 games), we see the difference in productive Ice Time was a mere 26 seconds, and 2013-14 featured Hartnell receiving a full 39 second more PP Ice Time for a Flyer squad that scored five more PP goals than this season’s Columbus team. And of course, Hartnell was also a full year older in 2014-15 versus 2013-14. We’ll have to see if good luck smiled a bit too widely for Hartnell in 2014-15.

We also have to be concerned his Total Ice Time might slip back below 17:00 in 2015-16, and that his PP Ice Time could decline as well. That’s because as of now Columbus has an astounding nine forwards on its roster who are at least 6’0’’ and 200+ pounds. And although Hartnell is a proven entity who’ll have the largest cap hit for the team next season, he’s far from a unique commodity on a squad that has guys like Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner, and Brandon Dubinsky, who also like to throw their weight around and possess some scoring ability to boot. And that’s not to mention David Clarkson, who despite being a reclamation project could find a second (third?) wind in Columbus.

As for Callahan, I was surprised at his numbers for 2014-15, since from what I saw he seemed to bounce around the entire Tampa top nine, so I suspected he’d be outside of the top three among forwards in Total Ice Time and PP Ice Time. Yet there he is. And not only that – his SH Ice Time all but vanished. He also doesn’t have the same issue as Hartnell, in that although Tampa has a number of talented players, arguably none have the combination of grit, “in your face” type of playing style, and offensive talent that Callahan possesses, which in turn means that Callahan should be able to keep similar Ice Time numbers in the coming season(s). Oh, and his $5.8M salary (currently the second highest among Tampa forwards) won’t hurt his cause either.


Secondary Categories

In this table (and the one below for Luck-Based Metrics), Callahan’s separate numbers with the Rangers and the Lightning for 2013-14 have been combined.




(per game)


(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)


(per game)

PP Points

(per game)


1.30 (S.H.)

0.53 (R.C.)

2.07 (S.H.)

2.39 (R.C.)

0.49 (S.H.)

0.59 (R.C.)

2.64 (S.H.)

2.48 (R.C.)

0.20 (S.H.)

0.20 (R.C.)


1.32 (S.H.)

0.37 (R.C.)

1.98 (S.H.)

2.90 (R.C.)

0.50 (S.H.)

0.92 (R.C.)

2.65 (S.H.)

2.50 (R.C.)

0.25 (S.H.)

0.18 (R.C.)


2.18 (S.H.)

0.26 (R.C.)

2.12 (S.H.)

3.42 (R.C.)

0.65 (S.H.)

1.46 (R.C.)

2.31 (S.H.)

3.20 (R.C.)

0.15 (S.H.)

0.17 (R.C.)


1.66 (S.H.)

0.80 (R.C.)

2.29 (S.H.)

3.56 (R.C.)

0.45 (S.H.)

1.15 (R.C.)

2.82 (S.H.)

3.09 (R.C.)

0.28 (S.H.)

0.22 (R.C.)


One thing we see right away is both players appear to be losing some of their multi-cat steam. For example, when looking at Hits, Blocked Shots, and PIM over these four seasons, both posted their two worst outputs in two of those three categories within the past two campaigns. And neither player had his best production in any single category occur in 2014-15. That having been said, Hartnell’s drop in multi-cat production has been less precipitous.

And looking at this data, the mystery deepens with regard to Hartnell’s differing production in 2014-15 versus 2013-14, as we can see that his Shots rate for the two seasons were nearly identical and his PP production was actually better in his less productive 2013-14 campaign. My hunch is still that Hartnell might’ve benefitted from unsustainable good luck in 2014-15, and we’ll look at that next.


Luck-Based Metrics



Personal Shooting %

PDO (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)


13.7% (S.H.)

12.6% (R.C.)

989 (S.H.)

1017 (R.C.)

70.4% (S.H.)

66.0% (R.C.)

61.5% (S.H.)

59.1% (R.C.)

50.5% (S.H.)

59.1% (R.C.)


9.7% (S.H.)

10.4% (R.C.)

1015 (S.H.)

1009 (R.C.)

66.7% (S.H.)

62.2% (R.C.)

48.6% (S.H.)

47.4% (R.C.)

59.5% (S.H.)

59.9% (R.C.)


10.8% (S.H.)

10.1% (R.C.)

971 (S.H.)

1005 (R.C.)

54.5% (S.H.)

64.3% (R.C.)

28.6% (S.H.)

63.6% (R.C.)

49.8% (S.H.)

53.0% (R.C.)


16.0% (S.H.)

11.1% (R.C.)

1017 (S.H.)

979 (R.C.)

63.5% (S.H.)

79.4% (R.C.)

66.7% (S.H.)

55.2% (R.C.)

52.2% (S.H.)

48.8% (R.C.)


Here we see a precise explanation of Hartnell’s differing production in 2013-14 versus 2014-15, as he would’ve had five fewer goals this past season and three additional goals in 2013-14 had his personal shooting % in each campaign been in line with his career average (11.4%). Lo and behold, there we have the eight point gap.

Also, while Hartnell’s 2012-13 numbers don’t completely forgive his dismal production that season, they do help explain why his numbers were so bad, as his PDO and IPPs were dreadful both in general and as compared to his normal averages. Beyond that, we see Hartnell was able to post 60 points in 2014-15 with his second worst PDO and OZ% among these four seasons, and with IPPs that, while high, were comparable to 2011-12 and in the vicinity of 2013-14.

For Callahan, his 2014-15 output coincided with his highest PDO, Personal Shooting % and 5×5 IPP among these seasons, as well as his second highest OZ% and 5×4 IPP. Even still, Tampa’s team PDOs runs high (1010 for 2014-15, which was tied for fourth highest in the NHL) and his OZ% is likely indicative of his ongoing role on the team, as further evidenced by his SH Ice Time having cratered.

All in all, the data shows that while neither player should expect to see his point total increase by five or more next season, a decrease by five points or more would be equally unrealistic.


Value and Injuries

Both players provided very good value in 2014-15, as Hartnell (who’s LW-only eligible) was drafted on average as the 27th LW but ended the season being ranked 13th and Callahan (who’s RW-only eligible) was selected on average as the 58th RW but by the end of the season was ranked 28th. The question is whether those rankings are appropriate or, instead, indicative of either player having a perceived value that doesn’t reflect his actual value.

For starters, the 28th rated LW was Jonathan Huberdeau, while the 13th rated RW was Radim Vrbata. Interestingly, Huberdeau had 54 points, just Callahan like, although Huberdeau played in two additional games. And Vrbata posted 63 points in 79 games, versus 60 in 77 for Hartnell.

Given that both Callahan and Hartnell provide more across the board multi-cat production than either Vrbata or Huberdeau, it’s safe to say that – if anything – both Hartnell and Callahan had lower perceived value than was justified, at least for leagues other than points only. Of course since they both ended the season with a much improved ranking, it’s possible their perceived value deficit will vanish next season and could even adjust so much that it’ll be too high.

In terms of injuries, Hartnell holds an edge, as Callahan has rightfully earned his label as a Band-Aid Boy trainee, what with missing five or more games in all but one full season and 22+ games in two of the past four campaigns. But we need to keep an eye on Hartnell, as after a stretch of five 80+ game seasons he missed 16 in 2012-13 and a handful in each of the past two campaigns.


Who Wins?

In points only one-year leagues, I’ll give Callahan a somewhat narrow win, as his spot appears more secure and he should provide poolies with slightly better value versus cost despite his admittedly higher injury risk. Plus, Hartnell seemed to benefit more from favorable/unsustainable luck last season. It’s a harder decision in one year multi-cat leagues, as Hartnell’s output has held a bit steadier overall. Even still – the same factors (Hartnell’s spot being at risk and having likely benefitted more from luck last season) are still relevant, and likely put Callahan over the top by a tiny margin.

In keeper leagues, the nearly three year age difference and more secure spot favor Callahan more than in one-year leagues, although we need to keep in mind that players younger than Callahan (cough cough Dustin Brown cough cough) have broken down at an even earlier age. My advice is to tread lightly in terms of giving any significant future value in order to acquire either player for the long haul, but also not to shy away from grabbing either one if you’re aiming to go for a win in the next couple of seasons.


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