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Musings of Interest: Nigel Dawes and Freddy Sjostrom

I did a series like this last year for question mark guys, so I figured I'd give it another go this summer. First up: new comers Dawes and Sjostrom, whom I've grouped together because they spent most of last season in the same setting: the NY Rangers. This allows us to compare them a little easier.

First up: Freddy.

As previously mentioned, Sjostrom was a scorer in the WHL but hasn't put up numbers since. He was a marginal offensive contributor in the AHL and thus far in his young NHL career he's only managed 4th liner type output (19 points is the high water mark). At 26, we're probably closer to Sjostrom's ceiling than floor, so keep that in mind as we proceed.

Despite his lackluster results, there's some indications that Sjostrom can bring other things to the table. For one, the dude's been a regular NHLer for five straight seasons, so his coaches must have found some reason to keep playing him. First hand accounts out of New York suggest that Sjostrom is a top notch penalty killer, a claim backed by the fact he averaged the 2nd most SH ice time amongst Rangers forwards last season behind Blair Betts (2:42). He's also described as a fast skating, high energy player that can be effective in a checking/"energy" role. I compared Sjostom to Eric Nystrom when he was acquired and, with this stuff in mind, the comparison holds I think.

Sjostrom managed a marginally positive corsi number (+34) last season, despite playing most of the year with Blair Betts and the dreadful Colton Orr (who were both under water by this metric). That line was the only one on the Rangers who started more often in the defensive zone than elsewhere, which gives you an idea of Sjostrom's circumstances last season (ie; they SUCKED). To top it all off, the bounces were cruel: a 90.6 on-ice SV% (team SV% was 91.8) + 4.5 SH% (!) = 95.1 PDO. Ghastly. It's a minor miralce the guy had any points at all.

Nigel Dawes, by comparison, had it rather easy. He played with better players more often (Drury and Callahan were his most frequent linemates), he started in the offensive zone 47 more times than the defensive zone and the hockey gods were relatively kind to him (99.7 PDO). That said, his corsi number was only marginally better than Sjotroms (+47 versus +34) and while his offensive output was obviously superior...that's what more ice with better players in better circumstances (plus some PP time) is going to do for you. 

Dawes comparable on the Flames roster is Boyd by my eye and that comparison seems accurate as well: Dawes has some nice results in other levels but has yet to really figure things out at the NHL level. His inclusion on the roster will be more about development as opposed to actually being beneficial: more about how good it's hoped he'll become rather than how good he's proven to be thus far. It's a worthwhile risk to take, given his price and potential ceiling I think (ditto Boyd). Hopefully the club can shelter them both enough to allow them to succeed.

On the other hand, I'm encouraged by Sjostrom's numbers: it looks to me like he could play a bottom 6 role and at least hold his head above water. He's never going to score much, but he'll probably be able to, say, outperform other 4th liners, especially when McGrattan isn't in the line-up. He could also probably move up the roster for brief periods in case of injury.