Carolina Hurricanes Sign Lee Stempniak

by Michael Clifford on July 1, 2016

The Carolina Hurricanes bolster their offence with the signing of Lee Stempniak. 

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Points-wise, Lee Stempniak had the best year since 2006-2007 last year, as he posted 51 points, including 19 goals, split between the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins. That’s kind of funny, considering he couldn’t even get a contract in the offseason last year, and had to make the Devils through a pro tryout.

Stempniak parlayed his season into a two-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes:

Make no mistake, his tryout last year was odd; from 2012-2015, Stempniak’s points per 60 minutes rate at five-on-five was 1.66, or the same point output as Patrick Marleau, and slightly higher than Michael Cammalleri (1.59). While past his true prime years, he was just in his Age 32 season last year. It’s not like this was a guy in his late-30’s still hoping to find his stroke again. He was still productive, and New Jersey was the beneficiary.

Carolina looks to be the beneficiary this year as they get a right winger who can immediately slot into the top-six, and play either power play unit. What I am weary of is the team. They are heading in the right direction, and with better goaltending may have even challenged for a playoff spot last year. They cannot score, though; last year they finished 25th in goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five, scoring at about the same rate they had the previous two years. Stempniak helps add some offence, but he won’t turn around their fortunes immediately.

Stempniak found some magic last year on New Jersey’s top line playing with Adam Henrique and Cammalleri. He also did fine playing alongside Patrice Bergeron. I worry about the move to Carolina fantasy-wise. There is still a productive season ahead, but outside of deep leagues, I’m not sure there will be a ton of value here, particularly in multi-category roto leagues. Remember, he played well over 18 minutes a game with New Jersey. Does he get that much with Carolina? I’m not so sure.

Who does this affect positively, in order:

  1. Victor Rask/Elias Lindholm

I think Stempniak starts on the second line, so it’s a matter of whether the Hurricanes decide to use Lindholm regularly as the second line centre, or whether it’s Rask. Whichever player it is will get a boost, as Stempniak is at least a capable second/third line winger, which is more than what they’ve had in recent years in their depth.

Who does this affect negatively, in order:

  1. No one*

There is an asterisk here because I’m reserving the right to wait and see where they slot Lindholm. If they had plans for him to start as the top line right wing, this could bump Lindholm down. To be truthful, I don’t know how they will slot their forwards beyond Jordan Staal as the first line centre, so there’s no clear path here yet. I would hope that Lindholm still gets top line minutes, with Stempniak playing an insular second line role, but I want to see that first.

*Stats from Hockey Reference and Hockey Analysis. Cap Information from Cap Friendly