Analyzing Asham versus Prust

Much noise was made yesterday when the Rangers went ahead and signed Arron Asham to a two year deal worth $1 million per season. At the time of the deal, Brandon Prust had not signed, but all had assumed that Prust would be signing elsewhere. About an hour later, Prust signed with the Montreal Canadiens with a whopping four year, $10 million contract.

For those keeping track, the Rangers spent $2 million on Asham as opposed to $10 million on Prust. That equals $8 million in savings, with $1.5 million being saved in each of the first two years, and then $2.5 million saved in the following two years. That’s a lot of coin to save. But outside of the money, is there a real difference between Prust and Asham on the ice?

First things first, it’s important to note that Prust and Asham produce the same offensively. If anything, Asham produces more offensively, but he played in less games than Prust each of the last two seasons. So let’s call the offensive production vs. games played a wash for now.

Looking at the defensive metrics, and advanced stats like DGVT, GVT, and PVT, well it tells a different story:

QoC Rcorsi Ozone % DGVT GVT PVT
Prust -0.03 -7.9 33.7% 0.5 1.7 0.57
Asham -0.094 -12.3 49.3% 0.4 1.0 0.33

As you can see from the table, Prust has Asham beat in every major category. While facing tougher competition and starting significantly more shifts in the defensive zone, Prust managed to maintain the puck more effectively than Asham. Those three categories show that Prust is the better player defensively. That said, the overall difference in the standings (GVT/PVT) isn’t that significant, with Prust worth about two-tenths of a point more than Asham.

Just a quick note about the GVT stat, Prust has a 0.5 SGVT (shootout) rating, while Asham has a 0.0 SGVT. Personally, I tend to discount this metric because it ways skills in the shootout, which is not a part of playoff hockey. If you subtract SGVT from the ratings, Prust’s advantage drops to 1.2 GVT to 1.0 GVT, which is not a big difference at all.

In the end, the Rangers downgraded by signing Asham over Prust, this much we know. However, it is not a significant downgrade, which makes this more justifiable since the Rangers did save a ton of money.

The signing of Asham over Prust was clearly a money thing for the Rangers. The $1.5 million saved over the next two years may not sound like much; but with Artem Anisimov, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Michael Sauer, and Ryan McDonagh all set to be RFAs next offseason, that $1.5 million goes a long way to keeping them in Ranger blue. Throw in a potential trade for Rick Nash and his $7.8 million price tag, and that $1.5 million saved looms even larger.

It seems the biggest issue with Asham stems from this incident:

However, if you are to bring this up, you need to bring up the apology from Asham after, who did not realize Beagle was hurt:

In the end, it stinks to see Prust head to Montreal. He was a huge part of the Rangers identity, but he was not irreplaceable. As for the locker room presence, we don’t know exactly what Asham brings, but we do know that Prust was a locker room favorite. Asham played with Mike Rupp in Pittsburgh, so there’s some chemistry there already. Asham is a downgrade, but a necessary one to keep more important pieces of the core in blue for years to come.