Keeping Erik Christensen Was The Right Move

October 10, 2011, by

If you’ve been reading this blog for the past year, then you know that I am not a fan of Erik Christensen. I think he has tremendous skill, but is maddeningly inconsistent to the point where his value diminishes. His play frustrates me so much because he just seems so lackadaisical when he doesn’t have the puck, especially in his own end. That said, in the battle between him and Sean Avery, while my gut said Avery, my brain says that keeping Christensen was the right move.

The first reason here is the salary: Christensen simply makes less money, and the $1 million difference will go a long way to patching some holes in this lineup to make a playoff run. For a player who is likely going to be a healthy scratch for 40 games, there was no point in keeping Avery and his $1.9 million salary. Christensen’s $925k salary is an easier pill to swallow from the press box.

Avery, while popular with the fans, lost his touch. He is no longer the 15 goal guy, and he no longer agitates opponents regularly. There is no one to blame here but Avery himself, and any finger pointing to John Tortorella is unjust, because Avery has been given his fair share of opportunities. Yes, he is a blue collar guy, but he just can’t do what he used to do. He scored three goals last year. Three.

The general argument for keeping Avery is that he draws penalties. Looking deeper into this stat, it was true at one point, but simply is not true anymore. Luckily, the guys at Behind The Net keep track of such statistics, so there’s the ability to use numbers to defend this argument. In the table below, we see Avery’s penalties taken per 60 minutes (PTake/60) and his penalties drawn per 60 minutes (PDrawn/60). The numbers don’t lie.

Season PTake/60 PDrawn/60












As the table shows, Avery has been drawing just .1 more penalties for each one taken in the past two years. Simply put, Avery draws 11 penalties for every 10 he takes. That is not a good enough reason to keep him around. When Avery was the most effective, he was drawing one extra penalty for each one he took (2007-2008, 2008-2009). Regardless of what you want to say about phantom calls and swallowing the whistle when it comes to Avery, the fact is that he is not as effective as he used to be, whether by his fault or by others.

Even GVT and PVT work against Avery here. Christensen had a 5.4 GVT (1.8 PVT) last season, while Avery had a 2.5 GVT (.833 PVT). By those numbers, having Christensen with the team will give the Rangers an extra point in the standings at the end of the season. The numbers tell the story: Christensen was the right person to keep.

Categories : Analysis


  1. The Suit says:

    The adoration Avery received is what I like to call “the Jeremy Shockey syndrome.”

    New Yorkers love a rebel, a badass, especially if that badass has some skill. But once that skill diminishes, all you are left with are ego problems that turn into headaches for coaches AND teammates.

    EC was the right choice. It’s nice to see some of our earlier analysis backed up with advanced stats. Good looks Dave.

  2. The Wrage says:

    If Avery isn’t drawing penalties and/or lacking energy in his game, then what use is he to the team? None. I have no qualms with EC as spare forward.

  3. Walt says:

    You make a valid case to keep EC over Avery, but say what you may, EC sickens me, and I would have kept Avery. The money probably was what did Avery in, rightly so, but at least he had guts, and at times defended his team mates, could work the PK, and had a bit of grit. I may be voted down, but I just can’t take EC at all.

  4. Matt says:

    I’m as big of an Avery fan as there is, but when you factor everything in, EC was the right move.

    I do think he was held back a bit by Torts. Not dressing against Washington (which game again? my bad) was a move that sent a message that he had to tone it down…and he did, and that is where he lost his advantage.

  5. Ranger713 says:

    I think keeping EC was a mistake, but not over Avery. I think they both should have been waived, keeping Newbury who can score a little and play the blue collar game. He’s 29 and doesn’t need more time in the AHL to prove himself. This move would save NYR an additional 400k on the cap.

    • Dave says:

      Interesting point. Maybe, since Newbury has an A in CT, they were thinking that Newbury can be a leader there?

  6. Joe says:

    Avery was entertaining, I could not wait to see what he would do when he was on the ice.It made me want to watch more. Did it hurt the team? Sometimes and sometimes it helped. He was exciting, he loved being a Ranger, loved NYC and was a great teammate,on the ice. He’s the one who went after Carcillo and beat him after the Gaborik thing. He brings alot of immeasurable attributes that the stats dont show. Stats never tell the entire story. They dont measure heart, they dont measure experience, they dont measure toughness. EC is not a good teammate, a lazy, boring player with no heart, no toughness. Torts did not give him a chance, if you watched every game last year you could see that. I dont think it would be as much as an issue if torts didnt say the same BS he said when they signed Brashear ” He gives us more options, he can be put in different situations” etc. I am disgruntled with the Rangers right now and their lackluster play the past two games ( except for usual ones who give it their all) means Avery could have helpedJust my opinion

    • Section 121 says:

      agreed 100% — Torts’ comments in the first game pre-game were laughable that the team “now has better players than last year” (which are in Avery’s place…) The lineup is exactly the same with the exception of Rupp and Richards. Clearly Richards wasn’t fighting for a spot but guess what? Rupp wasn’t either. It has pained me to see the “enforcer” player get a free ride to a spot on the team (Brashear, Boogaard).

      Avery is a better player than Rupp, period. Oh yeah, and EC too.

      • Dave says:

        The numbers already showed that EC is worth more to the Rangers than Avery.

        As for Rupp (0.3 GVT)…you are on to something there.

        • Joe says:

          I dont understand the obsession with “the numbers.” They play better with him then with out him. Again, the numbers dont show heart, toughness etc. They are much more exciting to watch with Avery than without. Is there a statistic that shows the effect of an lazy, invisable person on a team?

          • Dave says:

            “If you’ve been reading this blog for the past year, then you know that I am not a fan of Erik Christensen. I think he has tremendous skill, but is maddeningly inconsistent to the point where his value diminishes. His play frustrates me so much because he just seems so lackadaisical when he doesn’t have the puck, especially in his own end”

            That said, Avery had a habit of disappearing for games at a time as well.

          • Glen Miller says:

            Yes, heart and chemistry are intangibles and can’t be quantified. However the numbers also serve as evidence. Management and the coaching staff base their decisions on the intangibles and the numbers. Obviously Avery’s intangibles were not enough to management and the coaches to offset his downturn in performance based on his numbers. Numbers are not the whole story but they are important nonetheless.

            • Dave says:

              What he said.

              Also, your comment was #12,000 on the blog. Contact Suit for your prize (a silk tie most likely).

  7. Mikeyyyy says:

    I would have liked to get rid of both.

  8. paulronty says:

    The Rangers should have cut both EC & SA and kept Dale Weise or Carl Hagelin on the team. I like Torts but man he just can’t get the lines right. Feds should be on the 1st Line with Richards and Gaborik.

  9. csf says:

    The Rangers are a better team with Avery. Check the stats with him on the team as opposed to without. Thats one of the reasons they have looked like crap. My only question now will be who is torts gonna take it out on when he coaches them out of the playoffs again this year.Torts has failed as a coach in not finding a way to use his assets and getting beyond his own ego.

    • Joe says:

      agree 100%

    • Dave says:

      Look at the record with Avery in the lineup for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 as compared to without Avery in the lineup. It’s the same.

      This is not the 2007-2008 Sean Avery.

      • Glen Miller says:

        Bang on. He just isn’t the same player anymore for whatever reason. Blame Torts if you will but the coach ain’t going anywhere so chances are Avery would have been just as ineffective as he had been the last couple of years.

        • csf says:

          I can see where your coming from, you can make a case that his skills have diminished by looking at stats. But I’m telling you I watch the player in game and what I see is a guy with a lot left in the tank, who was jumping from one foot to the other trying to please a coach that just does not like him and will not give him a chance. That messes with a players head and kills there confidence and I promise you thats what led to the diminished numbers.

  10. The Suit says:

    Paul Mara had a better record in the lineup than Avery, who cares? Thats a meaningless stat.