With news that Cristobal Huet is headed to Switzerland to play for HC Fribourg-Gotteron, the Huet Haters are becoming more vocal than Don Cherry and Pierre McGuire combined.
While it’s easy to say that he didn’t live up to expectations in Chicago the past two seasons, the question remains as to how good Huet really is and whether there is a spot for him in the NHL. The Blackhawks obviously couldn’t move him, so was it his talent, or just his $5.6m cap hit?
Below is a list of the NHL’s active career save percentage leaders, courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com. I have added in the cap hits for each player according to CapGeek.com to give us some perspective. Finally, this information has been used to calculate a number called Dollars per Goal ($ / G).
In order to come up with this metric, I used a Goalie Threshold Save Percentage of 90.5% according to this article at Behind the Net. Assuming the average goalie faced 2000 shots per season (~80% of his team’s shots against), we can estimate the number of extra goals he would stop if he matched his career average save percentage. We can also calculate how much money it cost the team to save those extra goals.
Keep in mind that the lower the cost per goal, the better deal it is for the team.
It may surprise you to see that Huet is tied for 10th on the active career save percentage list. Given that stat alone, it seems logical that he could start for two thirds of the teams in the NHL. The problem, however, is with his relative value.
Not only does Huet’s cap hit make him the 4th worst contract value on this list, but he’s being shopped during a period when the market is correcting for goalies. Look no further than the deals signed by Chris Mason and Marty Turco to see the difference. Their deals represent a discount of 45-70% per goal from the other players on the list.
Any potential trade partners interested in Huet had to think about what they could invest the extra money in if they paid for a player like Antti Niemi or Turco instead.
In the Blackhawks’ case, the need to move Huet was largely about creating cap room, but for other GMs in the league, it has been about efficient spending. Huet’s deal just isn’t as desirable as what can be had on the open market, even if he was given to them for free.
Back in 2008, Huet must have been delighted with his big-money deal when he signed it, but now it’s the very thing that’s pushing him out of the NHL.
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