With the NHL trade deadline approaching, Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Dzingel is quietly becoming an attractive target. The 26-year-old is on the last year of a $1.8 million contract, becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. Especially if a trade can’t get done with Mark Stone or Matt Duchene, it makes sense to try and move Dzingel, whose market value hasn’t been higher since signing a bridge deal at the end of the 2016-17 season.
A bridge deal gives the player opportunity to show his value for a few more seasons, realizing that at the end of the contract, management will analyze where the team and player are at. Well, for Ottawa, it’s simple — the team is bad and Dzingel is good. I actually think he’s really good. And teams are starting to take notice.
Dzingel Worth More Than His Cap Hit
Excluding entry-level contracts, anytime a player’s price-per-goal is between $100,000-300,000 at the halfway point of the season, he was probably worth the contract. With Dzingel’s low cap hit and 18 goals in 44 games this year, you have exactly that. Of any skater with a standard contract of $2.5 million or less, he leads the NHL in goals, points and points-per-game, while playing on a second line consisting of himself, Bobby Ryan and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who’s coming off a torn achilles.
Of those skaters, the next leaders in points for forwards are the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Yanni Gourde and the San Jose Sharks Joonas Donskoi. The linemates of those two players have a combined WAR of 2.3 and 2.5, respectively. Ryan and Pageau have a combined WAR of 0.4.
At even strength, Dzingel leads the Senators with 14 goals, 83 shots on goal and second in Fenwick for with 104, all despite being sixth on the team in ice time. There are many aspects that should make a playoff team very interested in Dzingel. Considering his $1.8 million contract, there are not many rental players on the market who bring more value per dollar.
He’s also versatile, having played all three forward positions. This helped him gain key playoff experience, having an important role in Ottawa’s playoff run in 2017.
Makes his Teammates Better
Maybe most importantly, he’s proven he can generate scoring with or without strong players around him. So far, he has been on the ice for 186 minutes with defensemen Dylan DeMelo, who only has 12 points this season. In that time, they’re averaging 4.05 goals when they’re on the ice together, per 60 minutes of play.
To put that in context, Gourde, who’s mentioned above, is averaging 3.65 goals per 60 minutes of play when he’s on the ice with All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman. Gourde’s also on the top line for the best team in hockey and just signed a six-year contract worth $31 million.
If you’re saying, “Well, maybe that means DeMelo is underrated offensively?” Perhaps he is. But Dzingel has impacted scoring with many other players, and a lot of scoring seems to happen when he’s on the ice. Looking at his top-five teammates for goals scored per 60 minutes when they’re on the ice together, the average is 4.26 goals. Gourde’s top-five teammates per 60 minutes have an average under four. And, as I said, one team’s trying to win a Stanley Cup, the other’s trying to win the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes in next year’s entry draft.
Whether Ryan Dzingel stays in Ottawa or ends up somewhere else, I think he’s a perfect example of an underrated talent who can help any team or any line. Since he’s entered the league, he’s only been getting better, and I think with some of the risks organizations make these days, keeping or acquiring him would be a low one.
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