*realizes this gets said about every single player put on waivers*— collin mehalick (@collin) January 4, 2017
phi could use matt nieto.
Set aside the fact that even though 24-year-old Nieto makes less than $750k, the Flyers just had to retroactively place Mark Streit on long-term injured reserve just so they could re-activate newly-healthy Michal Neuvirth without going over the salary cap. They don't have the cap space.he's better than, what.. 4 current players in bottom of phi's forward corps?— collin mehalick (@collin) January 4, 2017
And, more importantly, they don't have a roster spot.
Those four forwards that Collin mentioned are some combination of the fourth line, the third line (minus Couturier), and the scratches. I don't know Collin personally and I don't know his Twitter account well enough to infer who he had in mind, but let's just throw the whole group in and compare how much better Nieto is than the guys we currently have in the bottom six.
First, we'll look at all of the shot attempt metrics, from Corsi and Fenwick up through Expected Goals and Actual Goals:
I sorted by Expected Goals instead of Actual Goals to help Nieto's case, because it seems like he's either faced great goaltending or received some of the pretty awful variety. It didn't help him much, because as you see his metrics become weaker the more you go from "all shot attempts" to "pucks in the net".
What if we combine scoring chances and (expected) goals like Mike Babcock told us? That's the way a real "hockey guy" uses analytics.
Well, Leier looks a heck of a lot better. But these guys are all clearly bottom-six forwards for a reason. The bigger message to me is Nieto looks piss-poor defensively. He's a high-event player, it seems, and his struggles have put him in a position where he's on the ice for more than twice the Babcocks against than Dale Weise.
That "high event" point is probably important, because the Sharks are 9th in the league in Shot Attempts For and 14th in Shot Attempts Against. The Flyers, comparatively, are 10th and 12th. The difference between them is a minuscule 0.51 Shot Attempts per sixty minutes.
So, on teams that are generally even in terms of pace (a bit of an assumption but give it to me), how are their bottom-six guys generating offense and defense?
Again, Cousins is at the bottom because we're sorting by Expected Goals. And, again, Nieto is right above him.
Defensively, Nieto grades like a player who is quite bad at defense. He's worst in every category here, including Scoring Chances Against, Expected Goals Against, and Actual Goals Against. The only player who is remotely close in any of those metrics - other than Cousins, the healthy scratch - is Chris Vandevelde. That probably won't surprise too many Flyers fans, but Vandevelde makes up for the lack of defense by being on the ice for more Expected Goals and Actual Goals than Nieto.
If you're going to take on a guy like Nieto, you're accepting that you're getting a player who needs to be sheltered to maximize his return. He's going to kill you defensively if you put him in the position to do that. But, on the offensive end, Nieto is just marginally better (if at all) than the handful of guys that the Flyers already have in their lineup.