After Signing Another Two-Way Contract, Danny Syvret Still Gets No Respect

Despite not getting much playing time in the NHL, Danny Syvret has performed well in a third-pairing role. And yet, NHL General Managers have refused to offer him a full-time NHL job.

Yesterday, former Flyers and Phantoms defenseman Danny Syvret signed a two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues. This after signing a two-way contract with the Ducks last year, a two-way contract with the Flyers the year before, which was after a two-way contract with the Oilers. It's becoming a pattern.

While it is easy to see how a player with sixty-nine career NHL games over five seasons, and a career-high twenty-one games played in 2009-10, is unable to get a one-way contract, it is difficult to see how NHL General Managers deem certain players worthy of one-way contracts and others unworthy. No one will confuse Syvret with Drew Doughty or Shea Weber, or even Nicklas Grossman or John Erskine, and it is certainly not obvious that he deserves a full-time NHL job. But he's at least as worthy of one as others who are on a one-way deal.

When Syvret was given his biggest chance in the NHL two years ago, he was an average third-pairing NHL defenseman. While he missed nearly three months - from January 12th to April 3rd - with a separated shoulder, the Flyers were suffering from some miserable play from their third pairing. Syvret outplayed the other three defensemen all year, but was still refused playing time even when it became apparent that Oskars Bartulis and Ryan Parent were not good enough to contribute to the Flyers playoff run.

Here are the numbers from the 09-10 team. All columns are sortable.

GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT G/60 A1/60 G+A1/60 P/60 GFON/60 GAON/60 CorsiRel OZ% Fin OZ%
Danny Syvret 21 12.00 -0.751 -1.212 0.48 0.00 0.48 0.95 2.86 2.62 -6.2 46.4 50.3
Lukas Krajicek 50 14.71 0.376 0.748 0.08 0.08 0.16 0.33 1.55 2.28 -8.9 46.4 44.8
Oskars Bartulis 53 13.35 -0.377 0.960 0.08 0.25 0.33 0.68 2.37 3.14 -15.2 45.5 46.2
Ryan Parent 48 12.29 -0.779 -0.789 0.10 0.10 0.20 0.31 1.32 2.75 -22.0 47.4 49.0

There is obviously a small sample-size caveat here, but just to repeat, this is the largest single-season sample available for Syvret.

No matter how you look at it - points, team offense, goals against, Corsi, moving the play forward, or situational usage - Danny Syvret was at worst the sixth-best defenseman on the Flyers. Ryan Parent was quite literally terrible, eventually getting one shift in the Stanley Cup Finals before being benched. In all, he averaged less than seven and a half minutes in those playoffs before being traded twice last offseason and playing in only 4 NHL games last year. And the Flyers still passed over their 5th best defensemen that year in replacing him.

While it isn't saying much that Syvret was better than Bartulis, Parent, and Krajicek two years ago - the three of them combined for seventeen NHL games this past year - he played well enough to warrant another NHL job. While the Flyers significantly improved their third pairing last year, likely pushing Syvret out of Philadelphia, he was still worthy of a one-way contract.

Compare Syvret's 09-10 season to other players that year:

GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT G/60 A1/60 G+A1/60 P/60 GFON/60 GAON/60 CorsiRel OZ% Fin OZ%
Danny Syvret 21 12.00 -0.751 -1.212 0.48 0.00 0.48 0.95 2.86 2.62 -6.2 46.4 50.3
Ryan Wilson 61 14.33 -0.663 0.428 0.21 0.21 0.42 1.30 2.40 1.79 -6.3 51.0 53.1
Ryan O`Byrne 55 13.71 -0.304 0.250 0.08 0.16 0.24 0.24 1.59 2.07 -5.5 47.2 44.9
Matt Hunwick 76 15.40 -0.495 -0.238 0.21 0.10 0.31 0.62 1.79 2.36 -5.3 51.9 50.7

Syvret compares rather nicely to these three players, none of whom are widely known. This is probably because they aren't very good. None of the three are anything more than third pairing players. None of the three were put with worse teammates, in more difficult zone situations.

While Syvret had the easiest competition and the worst goals against per sixty minutes, he also saw his team - with worse teammates - score more goals than any of the three. Syvret had more goals and primary assists than any of the three - quite possibly a small sample size problem - despite being put in the worst situations of the group. And while his CorsiRel is third worst, he's not far behind those with much better opportunities to succeed.

In looking at his offensive zone starts and finishes, he moved the play forward more effectively than both O`Byrne and Hunwick - Wilson exceeded his expected Balanced Zone Shift by 3.4 percent, while Syvret exceeded his by 1.4 percent.

In other words, Syvret does many things better than the three above, while doing some things worse. With the small sample size of twenty-one games, we see that Syvret almost certainly deserves NHL playing time, at least as much as the three above.

All three of Wilson, O`Byrne, and Hunwick reached 67 games played last year, the year following them putting up the above numbers. All three of them are on one-way deals for 2011-12, and all of them are making over $1.25 million this year. Danny Syvret is once again on a two-way deal paying him under $700,000 this year.

Maybe all this means is that Colorado - who signed all three of the above players within the past year - gives out one-way contracts to defensemen like candy. Maybe it means Ryan Parent and Lukas Krajicek are just as bad as a lot of people thought two years ago.

Or maybe it means that Danny Syvret - fresh off back-to-back 0.70 points per game in the AHL - is as good as most third-pairing defensemen in the NHL. Only NHL GM's don't realize this.

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