It is that time of the year again. The season is over and the excitement of the off-season is just around the corner. From the sound of things, GM Jim Rutherford plans to be somewhat active in the free agent market this year and it's gotten a lot of people curious about what moves he will make. Before we talk about signing free agents, we are going to evaluate the performance of their roster players from this year. This will give us a better idea of where the Canes' strengths and weaknesses are and what holes they will need to fill this summer. We are going to start things off with someone who may not be in Carolina next year in Bryan Allen.
Allen was acquired at the 2011 trade deadline from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Sergei Samsonov's expiring contract and he has slowly emerged as one of their better blue-liners since then. He spent most of this season on a defense pairing with Tim Gleason and the two became Carolina's go-to shutdown defense pairing. Allen was brought into be a solid stay-at-home defenseman who could play top-four minutes and he did his job for the most part this season.
This should be an interesting off-season for Allen because his contract expires in July and it is up to the Hurricanes to decide whether or not they want him back. The question is how much is Allen worth and the Hurricanes afford to give him that? After the jump, we will examine this issue and take a closer look at this past season for Allen.
|2011 - Bryan Allen||82||1||13||14||-1||76||0||0||1||188||87||1.1%|
The Good: As I mentioned earlier, Allen did a solid job at playing his role as a solid shutdown defenseman. He was regularly matched up with the opposing team's top lines and started almost 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone. The heavy workload didn't seem to put that much of a burden on him, though as he was one of the team's better defensemen at controlling scoring chances at even strength and his 5-on-5 numbers when they are adjusted for his tough zone starts. Allen also logged big minutes on the penalty kill and was not afraid to sacrifice his body when needed as he led the team in blocked shots with 188.
To put things briefly, Allen played a pretty important role on the team and did a solid job at it.
The Bad: As it was mentioned earlier, Allen played a lot of minutes on the penalty kill but he gave up a lot of shots and scoring chances when he was playing there. He also had the tendency to take a lot of bad penalties as he took one penalty per every one he drew and took penalties more often than anyone else on the Hurricanes' blue line. Having your top PKers constantly going to the box is never a good thing.
Allen's quality of play also seemed to diminish as the season went on. Going by season segments, you can see that Allen had a bit of a drop-off after the half-way point and his play really seemed to reach a new low towards the end of the season. This isn't too surprising when you take into account the style of play Allen has. He is over 30 years old, is playing on a surgically repaired knee and plays a very gritty game which involves him blocking shots on a regular basis. He didn't miss one game this season but whether or not he had some wear-and-tear as the season went on is a good question and something that should be looked at when it comes time to re-sign him.
The Money: Allen is an unrestricted free agent come July and he is currently in the final year of a five-year contract worth $14.5 mil. His cap hit is $2.9 mil. and he was making $3,150,000 this season. His cap hit is very good for a defenseman who plays this kind of role and his contract is pretty good in terms of real money, as well. How much will he fetch on the open market this off-season, though? With the cap floor/ceiling being uncertain and a new CBA looming, that is a good question.
No, Allen doesn't supply much offense but a cap hit of $2.9 mil. is pretty standard for a shutdown defenseman, and actually pretty good value for Allen considering the heavy-lifting he did.
Final Word: Allen did his job as a solid defensive defenseman for the Hurricanes and having him back for next year would be very nice. The years after that might be a problem, though when you consider his age, injury history and possible contract into account, though. There is no doubt that the Canes would have a huge hole to fill if he leaves, so one would have to think that GM Jim Rutherford will at least consider re-signing him.
The Vote: What grade would you give Allen for the season relative to your expectations? Give him an A if he exceeded your expectation, a C if he met them or an F if he completely let you down. Also tell us what you thought about Allen this year. Would you like to have him back next season and for how much?