Player agent Allan Walsh made some noise today openly criticizing the Minnesota Wild’s “misuse” of Martin Havlat, a player he represents. Walsh likes to make his opinion known about how his players are utilized. While I feel his opinions are clearly biased and have no value in the sports world, I thought it would be interesting to see if he even has a point.
First, let’s look at his stats for the current season. According to Yahoo Sports, Havlat has scored zero goals and six assists in eight games played. The assists are nice, but no goals in eight games is a dreadful start. People are talking about Taylor Hall potentially being sent back to junior because he doesn’t have a goal yet. Havlat is a seasoned veteran. These are hardly stats warranting top end ice time.
Now, let’s look at ice time. Currently, Havlat is playing 16:53 per game. That is good for fourth among forwards on the Wild, and second among wingers as the top two forwards are centers Mikko Koivu and Matt Cullen. That really isn’t too bad since Havlat’s defensive game isn’t good enough to earn penalty killing ice time, of which he is averagin just 6 seconds per game. His power play time on ice is also fourth among forwards. This is one of Walsh’s talking points as it indicated Havlat is on the second power play unit. However, fourth among forwards is good enough for over 2 and a half minutes of power play time per game.
When all is said and done, Walsh’s comments seem to be completely off base. Given Havlat’s defensive deficiencies (-19 last season), he is only going to get even strength and power play ice time. He ranks fourth on the team, hardly a number that indicates underutilization. What Walsh should be looking at is the donut Havlat has in the goal column of the stat sheet and realize that one needs to earn their ice time. It isn’t bestowed upon them just because they have a big contract.