When the Rangers signed Lee Stempniak to a one-year deal worth $900,000, many applauded Glen Sather. He found another low-risk, high-reward player that could potentially replace Benoit Pouliot on the third line. In all honesty, they are pretty identical players from a #fancystats point of view. But of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story.
One of the best parts about Stempniak’s signing is that he’s a right-handed shot. Based on that alone he helps the left-handed heavy Rangers be a bit more balanced on the wings, and potentially on the powerplay. He’s a strong possession forward who plays a solid, if unspectacular, two-way game. He also saw some significant time on the penalty kill with the Flames/Penguins last season. so he presents even more flexibility on special teams.
But one of the bigger questions is about how he will affect his teammates on the ice.
To measure this we can look at Stempniak’s WOWY (with or without you) stats. This stat is used to tell us how Stempniak’s teammates drove puck possession with him on the ice and without him on the ice. If his teammates have better numbers with him off the ice, then Stempniak can act as an anchor on his teammates. If his teammates have better numbers with him on the ice, then he acts as positive puck possession influence. Here’s how his numbers look from a graphical perspective (courtesy of Hockey Analysis):
To read this chart, the more to the right the bubbles (Stempniak’s teammates from last season) are, the better the puck possession with Stempniak on the ice. The more to the bottom of the graph, the worse his teammates’ possession numbers are without him on the ice. Basically, you want these bubbles to be in the bottom right corner.
From the chart, we see that Stempniak is a puck possession driver when on the ice since the majority of the bubbles are on the right side of the y-axis. Since there is an even split above and below the x-axis, we can deduce that while he drives possession on the ice, his teammates don’t falter when he is off the ice. He isn’t someone who is going to be a game-breaker while on the ice, but he will be a nice complementary player in all three zones.
When all is said and done, Stempniak will hopefully prove to be another one of those great bargain signings. If he can turn into what Pouliot was, it’ll be a great signing. If he can reproduce what he did last season (Pouliot’s scoring pace without the defensive zone lapses), then it’ll be a fantastic signing. I’d chalk this up as a solid signing.