A day after the Canucks made a big splash late in unrestricted free agency, snagging hometown blueliner Jason Garrison, they re-found their thriftiness and dove into bargain bin, re-signing forwards Andrew Ebbett and Steven Pinizzotto to two-way deals.
It’s appropriate that the Canucks announced these two signings at the same time. While Ebbett and Pinizzotto are very different players, they both have something important in common.
It’s that, thanks to unlucky seasons shortened by upper-body injuries — Ebbett gruesomely broke his clavicle in Boston and Pinizzotto never played a game due to recurring shoulder problems — the free agents had little negotiating power, which meant they could be had on the cheap. After Marco Sturm and Byron Bitz last year and now Ebbett and Pinizzotto, it’s clear that Mike Gillis loves a good bargain (or is a descendant of Florence Nightingale), so these signings were right within his wheelhouse.
Ebbett inked a one-year, two-way contract worth $600k in the bigs and $300k in the minors. It’s a marginal pay increase at the NHL level, from $525k, but last season, he was on a one-way deal. Terms of Pinizzotto’s deal have not yet leaked, but it sounds like it’s a two-way and it will probably pay similarly to 2011-12, a year in which he pulled $600k in The National and $275k in the A.
Granted, neither player was exactly raking it in last year, but both had the leverage of other interested suitors when they signed those deals. This year, after earning warning labels due to their injuries, they were the targets of much less wooing.
So what will both players be doing if they can stay out of the medical room this time around?
Ebbett will likely find himself in the same role as last year, a thirteenth forward type that can be used as a band-aid solution anywhere on the first to the fourth line without cratering the team’s possession statistics. It went relatively unnoticed, but between scratches healthy and unhealthy, Ebbett’s underlying numbers were actually pretty impressive. If his play in 2012-13 corresponds to what we saw in his 18-game sample from last year, he’ll be a valuable contributor.
As for Pinizzotto, if he could get into a regular-season NHL game, I suspect Vancouver fans would love him. The Canucks sure took a shine to him last offseason, when he looked to be on his way to making the team out of training camp. Lamentably, his shoulder injury late in the preseason forced Alain Vigneault to begrudgingly return to Victor Oreskovich, the Janice to his Chandler, instead.
Pinizzotto is a fourth-line pest type, but he’s got decent hands at the professional level and he’s defensively reliable. I hate to use plus/minus to make the point, but he was a team-best plus-40 in his last full season in Hershey. Sure, over the course of a game, plus/minus is pretty much meaningless. But over the course of a season, if you’re the best on your team in the category, that means something. In Pinizzotto’s case, it means he has a pretty good chance to be part of a defensively sound, aggravating fourth line that coach Vigneault isn’t afraid to use down the stretch.
As we know, according to folklore, if Vigneault allows the fourth line to emerge from their burrow on the first day of the playoffs, Vancouver fans get six more weeks of hockey. Ebbett and Pinizzotto should help to make this a possibility.Tags: andrew ebbett exists, ebbett, fourth line, Free Agency, Pinizzotto