The Detroit Red Wings placed 28-year old defenseman Jakub Kindl on waivers on Saturday morning. With a relatively cheap contract, and only two years remaining on his deal, Kindl represents an intriguing option for a Flyers team fighting for a wild card spot. This is one of those rare opportunities to cash in on a player whose negative perception doesn't match his positive on-ice impact.
DET puts Jakub Kindl on waivers.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 9, 2016
A big, mobile, and offensively-inclined d-man could mesh well in Hakstol's aggressive system. Though billed as inconsistent by his detractors, Kindl's underlying metrics show tremendous promise.The always insightful HERO charts from Own The Puck paint the picture of a defenseman capable of providing top-4 scoring and a fantastic ability to drive play in the right direction.
Kindl is scoring at the rate of a top-4 defenseman despite limited ice time and has stellar shots attempts for and against per 60 minutes of ice time in the last 3 seasons. When measured against fellow Red Wings d-men, and the current Flyers blue line, it's easy to see how favorably his results stack up.
(A quick guide to player usage charts from war-on-ice.com. Players in the bottom right tend to receive sheltered, offensive minutes, players in the top left tend to receive difficult defensive minutes. A blue bubble indicates positive shot attempts for/against, and a red bubble indicates negative shot attempts for/against.)
Even if you point to Kindl's sheltered usage as a negative (as our Detroit friends over at Winging It In Motown have), he's still demolishing bottom tier competition in virtually every metric that matters at the NHL level. Among the Flyers' current pool of defensive talent, he's an easy upgrade over the likes of Nick Schultz and Brandon Manning. And ultimately, how a player is used by one coaching staff isn't necessarily a reflection of true talent level.
If his underlying results look so good at first blush, it's a wonder that the Czech defenseman has developed such a negative reputation in Detroit and been used so sparingly. One possible reason for the Red Wings unceremoniously waiving Kindl is simply bad luck.
(PDO is a sum of on-ice shooting and save percentages at 5v5, and is a valuable way of measuring luck).
Kindl has suffered from a team-worst PDO driven by an abysmally low on-ice shooting percentage of 5.19%. Simply put the team isn't scoring with him on the ice. At the end of the day, the most powerful driver of both fan and even coaches' perceptions of a player is goals for and against. This type of negative swing in the percentages can be particularly damaging to a player whose strongest selling point is his offensive upside. The good news is bad luck doesn't last forever, and a smart team can cash in on the inevitable upswing.
Making $2.4 million per year through the 2016-17 season, Kindl could potentially provide quality depth on a budget. After the trade of Vinny Lecavalier and Luke Schenn, the Flyers have more than enough cap space to accommodate his pro-rated salary. Much like the Flyers' current top-pairing defenseman Michael Del Zotto, Kindl represents a low risk reclamation project that could potentially be a big win for the Flyers. Even if the Flyers brass doesn't see Kindl as a long term piece on the roster, he's an asset you can move at next year's deadline when his luck and reputation rebound.
If it doesn't work out, the long term risk to the Flyers cap and roster composition is minimal. Hextall and company may be hesitant to jump right back into carrying eight defenseman on the active roster so soon after jettisoning Luke Schenn, but the risk/reward is heavily skewed in the Flyers favor. Best case scenario, you've snagged an underrated top-4 defenseman at no cost to your franchise's long term assets. Worst case, you're paying a minimal cap hit for some extra depth during a potential playoff push. Either as an immediate upgrade or as a claim & flip strategy, Jakub Kindl is solid a waiver wire grab.