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Numbers Game: Avs, Flames make 2-for-2 swap

Scott Cullen
6/28/2013 12:23:48 AM
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The Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames made a two-for-two swap, with the Avalanche getting a member of their 2001 Stanley Cup champion team back in the fold.

Numbers Game looks at the deal sending Alex Tanguay back to Colorado.

The Flames Get: RW David Jones and D Shane O'Brien.

Jones, 28, is coming off the worst season of his pro career, during which he scored three goals and nine points in 33 games, the lowest rates of his career after signing a four-year, $16-million contract last summer.

While Jones has never been a great puck possession player, he did at least take on some heavy minutes for the Avalanche last season, with tough opposition and more starts in the defensive zone.

A two-time 20-goal scorer, Jones will play in Calgary's top nine forwards and is likely to score on better than 4.8% of his shots, his career-low set last season but, given Calgary's current crop of centres, it would be asking a lot for Jones to immediately bounce back to 20 goals or 40 points and, for $4-million per season, that's probably on the low end of what should be expected in order to provide value.

29-year-old Shane O'Brien had his role reduced, with his ice time down from 19:13 per game in 2011-2012 to 15:30 last season, while playing only 28 of 48 games, but his puck possession stats were quite good when he did play. O'Brien is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and provides toughness. His 853 penalty minutes in seven seasons ranks 11th in the league over that time.

O'Brien does figure to get more regular playing time in Calgary, and is under contract for two more years, at $2-million per season. If he gives the Flames 17-18 minutes a night, with a little bite to his game, then O'Brien will be doing his part.

The Avalanche Get: LW Alex Tanguay and D Cory Sarich.

Since returning to Calgary in 2010, Alex Tanguay has recorded 145 points; only Jarome Iginla had more for the Flames over the last three seasons.

Tanguay, 33, hasn't had strong puck possession numbers in recent seasons, but he's also done some heavy lifting, facing tough matchups and starting more shifts in the defensive zone, factors which contributed to his career-low minus-13 rating last season. A rare high percentage shooter, Tanguay has scored on 18.8% of his shots in his career, highest among active players and he scored on a career-high 25.0% of his shots last season.

Moving back to Colorado, where he spent the first six years of his career, should allow Tanguay to play more of a complementary role, and while it's not likely that he can score on such a high percentage of shots again, Tanguay could, playing with more talented centres, generate more shots on goal than the 1.10 per game he did last season, his lowest shot rate since his rookie season.

There's no reason to expect Tanguay to get better in his mid-30s, but it's entirely reasonable to think that he can play a top six role for the next couple seasons. He's under contract for three years and $10.5-million, so if he manages to do it for each of those three seasons, then that would be ideal for the Avalanche.

34-year-old Cory Sarich has been even more of a part-time player than O'Brien, playing more than 16 minutes per game once in the last four seasons, including a career-low 14:52 per game last season, dressing for 28 of 48 games in 2013.

Sarich is big, physical and has played 972 (regular season plus playoff) games in his career. Even though the Avalanche have major needs on defence, Sarich isn't the answer to those questions, so he likely fills the seventh or eighth spot on the depth chart. His contract, at a $2-million cap hit, expires at season's end.

Colorado gets a slight edge on this deal, in my view, because they save a little money and have a better chance of getting adequate production out of Tanguay over the next three seasons.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.



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