February 4, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Martin Havlat (9) moves the puck toward the goal against the defense of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) as goalie Viktor Fasth (30) defends the goal during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Martin Havlat: Diamond in the Rough

On July 1st, Mike Cammalleri was not the only offensive weapon that the Devils added, as they also were able to sign veteran winger Martin Havlat.

The Devils biggest concern this off-season was how were they going to answer for last year’s lack of offense. As we have reported all summer, the Devils made quite a splash in July as they were able to sign one of the most potent offensive weapons available in Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri agreed to terms with the Devils to a contract of 5 years 25 million, giving him 5 years in Newark to prove he can be the answer to all of our prayers for a productive offense. Unfortunately for Martin Havlat, the Devils’ other offensive addition, he does not have that luxury.

After New Jersey secured Cammalleri, the Devils were able to lock up former San Jose Shark Martin Havlat. GM Lou Lamoriello was able to agree to a 1 year 1.5 million deal with the free agent, a significant pay cut from the earning he expected for the 2014-15 season.

San Jose was due to pay Havlat 6 million dollars in the upcoming season. This was the last year of the 6 year, 30 million dollar contract that Havlat and the Minnesota Wild agreed to in the summer of 2009. Two years later, San Jose acquired Martin Havlat from the Wild with the promise that the talented winger would be locked up for the next four years. Unfortunately for the Sharks, they did not receive the output they expected from Havlat, especially at the price they were paying.

In the previous three year which Havlat played for the Sharks, San Jose was paying him 5 million a season. A lack of production and with no promise of him turning his career around, San Jose made the decision that it would be best to buy out the winger, instead of keeping him with a million dollar increase.

So why should New Jersey rejoice in the addition of Martin Havlat?

Mar 24, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; San Jose Sharks right wing Martin Havlat (9) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 2-1 in the shootout. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Martin Havlat failed to produce in San Jose, but that may have been a result of failing to fit in. Out of a possible 212 games that Havlat could have suited up for in his 3 years with San Jose, Martin only managed to play in 127 of them. Failing to be on the ice for about 40% of his time in California, Havlat was not able to find his stride which may have lead to his poor play the last few seasons.

Injuries are not something that can be avoided, but if Havlat can stay on the ice for New Jersey, GM Lou Lamoriello may have made one of the best deals of the summer. Playing for three separate organizations before coming to the Sharks, Havlat excelled with each, putting up impressive offensive numbers.

In Havlat’s 10 seasons before moving to the Bay Area, 6 of them he scored at least 20 goals. In the four seasons which Havlat did not reach the 20 goal plateau, two of them he recorded 19 and 18. The other two seasons Havlat was only able to play 18 and 35 games, but recorded 9 and 10 goals those years respectively.

Better than just looking at the total, his average goals per game is worth noting. Havlat has only played over 80 games in a season once, as he averages about 62 games per season. Even with missing 20 games a year, if Havlat can return to his level of play that he did before going to San Jose, could be one of the Devils’ offensive leaders. Taking his career totals’ of 0.34 goals per game and 0.49 assists per game from before his time on the Sharks, and playing his average 62 games, he would have finished the season with 21 goals and 30 assists.

Sizing those numbers against the members of the Devil’ roster last season, Martin Havlat would have finished 3rd in goals trailing Henrique’s 25 and Jagr’s 24. Havlat’s potential 30 assists would have landed him in a tie for third on the team with Travis Zajac and Marek Zidlicky. Also a total of 51 points would land Havlat in the top three, along with Czechs Jaromir Jagr and good friend Patrik Elias.

“The projection above was if he could play 62 games, imagine if he could reach 70, or even 80, especially when paired with good friend Patrik Elias”

The sigining of Martin Havlat this off-season should be viewed as a great business acquisition. GM Lou Lamoriello was able to ink the winger to a minimal deal of 1.5 million for 1 year not creating much risk for New Jersey. The reward, on the other hand, could be exponential if Martin Havalat can return to his form before going to San Jose. The projection above was if he could play 62 games, imagine if he could reach 70, or even 80, especially when paired with good friend Patrik Elias.

Mike Cammalleri was a big add this season as a proven scorer, but Havlat could be just as nice if he can return to form and at a better price. Opening night, plan to Havlat take the ice with Elias and Henrique on the Devils 2nd line, and if he can stay on the ice, plan to see big things this year.

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Tags: Martin Havlat Mike Cammalleri New Jersey Devils Patrik Elias

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