Erik Johnson Setting the Marc Staal Market?

August 4, 2010, by

A few days ago, the St. Louis Blues agreed to terms with RFA defenseman Erik Johnson, locking up the young, promising defenseman for two years at $2.6 million per year (cap hit). In reality, the Blues did more than lock up Johnson. They actually helped the Rangers gauge what the market for Marc Staal would be. Both players are alarmingly similar in many aspects: both are first round picks, both are under the age of 25, both are 6’4 200+ lbs, and both are coming off entry level deals. There is a significant drop in cap number for Johnson, but that is because he earned a ton of money in bonuses (he was a #1 overall pick). The annual salary between the two is within $100,000.

Now let’s look at the stats: Johnson is more of a scorer than Staal, with two straight 30 point seasons. However, both are coming off seasons with career highs in goals, assists, and points, and one can make the argument that if Staal saw the same amount of PP time that Johnson saw, then his offensive numbers would be around the same caliber. At the end of the season, Staal took on a more offensive role, scoring in three straight games. Looking deeper at the metrics, Staal is coming off an amazing year, posting a 10.4 GVT (4.0 OGVT, 6.4 DGVT). Johnson posted a 9.2 GVT (5.6 OGVT, 3.6 DGVT). Meanwhile, the QUALCOMP for Staal is off the charts. Staal had the 3rd highest QUALCOMP amongst players with greater than 60 games played (Patrice Bergeron and Marian Gaborik trump him) at .139. Meanwhile, Johnson posted a measly -.030 QUALCOMP, putting him somewhere in the middle of the pack in QUALCOMP.

When analyzing the numbers, it’s very evident that Staal is better defensive defenseman, but has yet to put up offensive numbers. Powerplay time, or lack thereof, is definitely a contributing factor to Staal’s less-than-favorable offensive number, but unfortunately, that will work against him. What Johnson lacks in overall defensive ability, he makes up for on the offensive side of the puck, which gives him sexier numbers. What the overall GVT numbers show is that the difference between Staal and Johnson as a collective whole is minimal.

The fact that Erik Johnson, who is for all intents and purposes an effective comparison to Marc Staal, signed for $2.6 million should put Ranger fans at ease. It is extremely unlikely that any team is going to give Staal an offer sheet of much more than $2.6 million per year, when the market has been set to such a number (considering the rumors of Staal’s contract demands, he wouldn’t even sign an offer sheet for that little anyway). Luckily for the Rangers, waiting out the situation played into their favor, as Johnson signed for what appears to be well below market value (Dan Girardi got $3.325 million, so Johnson is making less than him). When one player signs for below value, it affects overall value. Staal will be signed, but it will probably be for less than what he originally was aiming for.


  1. jurgenno88 says:

    I think if the Rangers can get Staal for under 4m its a good deal for the club. I’d happily sign him for 4m if he was willing to sign for 5 years. Anything less than 4 years i’d push him down to 3.5m.
    Despite the Johnson comaprison Staal wont take less than Girardi. He’s our #1 and wont be willing to settle for less than 3.325.

    • Dave says:

      Exactly. But as of right now, it looks like the Rangers overpaid for Girardi.

    • Brian says:

      I agree, no more than 4 mil unless he wants to go with a longer term, hopefully 6 years. Marketwise, he should get no more than Girardi’s 3.25 considering he is still an RFA and has little leverage.

  2. Mikeyyyy says:

    I am not too high on staal. I don’t think his o numbers will get much better. 3.75 mil for 2 years. 5 years will make him complacent. If he wants longer term. He has to ask for less on par with Girardi. Put some bonuses in the contract. Say 1 million if he passes 35 points a season.

    • jurgenno88 says:

      I dont see why you arent high on him. He proves it against the best quality opposition. As a shutdown guy, to flirt with 30 points is pretty damn good. He will regularly hit 30 in his career.
      He has everything a player at his posiiton needs to flourish. He has size, skill, poise and can play both ends. He’s willing to hit but doesnt sacrifice position to do so.

      He shouldnt have to take less than Dan Girardi who had an average season yet got a 100% pay rise. Hopefully his new deal is cap friendly but we’ll see…

      • Brian says:

        Exactly, Staal may not be as physical as often as he could be but his poise and stickchecking are excellent. He is extremely efficient and will only get better.
        The reason that he doesn’t get more money is strictly due to his RFA status and nothing to do with his performance.

    • Dave says:

      You’re not too high on Staal? He’s one of the best shut down defensemen in the game. Players like him are guys you build championship teams around.

      • jerry says:

        girardi was not worth 3.25, staal is worth more than girardi.not high on him well your entitled to your opinion but hes one of the best defencemen in the league .

  3. Brian says:

    Excellent article, I was waiting to see what Erik Johnson would receive because I saw them as comparables in regards to age, production and RFA status. EJ’s contract is a positive development for the Rangers.
    Considering that Girardi gave up two UFA seasons i didn’t think his contract is that bad although higher than what I hoped.
    Staal is still only 23 and 4 years away from UFA status so he really has no leverage unless he wants to include several of his UFA years. Erik Johnson’s contract will definately help set the bar for Marc Staal and now it will (or should be) lower. It is difficult to see Staal getting over 4 mil now unless he agrees to a long term contract.

  4. Mikeyyyy says:

    Haha. Best shutdown d In the league my ascot.

    Oh staal how I don’t think much of thee. Let me count the ways

    1. Doesn’t clear the crease.
    2. Doesn’t fight.
    3. Asked torts to not make him be offensive since it’s “not my game”.
    4. Not emotional during or after games.
    5. Doesn’t block shots. Rosi blocks em better.
    6. Stands 6-4 and 210 lbs. Hits occasionally and doesn’t or can’t rub opponents outin the boards with regularity
    7. Not a leader even by example.

    as usual Ranger fans think he is the second coming. He’s definitely not the best shutdown d man in the league. And at this point in his career is not worth more than girardi.

    And for the first 3/4 of the last season he sucked it up. Mdz is the future, not Marc staal.

    • jerry says:

      you know there are defensemen that are good without the he doesnt have offence so what.hes one of the top defensemen in the league .thats why he was off his game because he was asked to do to much last year instead of just playing his game.i dont think he deserves any more than 3.5 mill myself but to say hes not one of the top defensive defensemen in the league your very wrong.

  5. jurgenno88 says:

    wow Mikeyyy. you cant be more wrong. Gretzky wasnt emotional on the ice, did that make him weaker? Marian gaborik doesnt fight, does that make him weaker?
    Not acting like Theo Fluery on the ice doesnt mean you’re not emotionally involved.I appreciate you arent a fan but what you point out as draw backs arent relevant or accurate. Check all the stats out, they say Staal had a great year.

  6. Mikeyyyy says:

    Your examples talk about offensive players.

    I just don’t agree that staal is one of the top defensive dmen in the league.

    I have a higher opinion of mdz than I do staal.

    Don’t get me wrong I think he has great potential. And in 2-3 years he will be a pronger type force. But right now, no.