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As I was following along with Andrew Zadarnowski’s very fun "Top 5 one-and-done Canadiens" series last week, I suggested in the comments that one player in particular should have been included. Andrew very nicely suggested that I write a FanPost entry for the player, so here is my humble contribution to the one-and-done series!
Honourable Mention: James Wisniewski (2010-11), 30 pts.
The Montreal Canadiens acquired James Wisniewski on December 28th, 2010, and he turned out to be an excellent late Christmas gift for the team. At the time of the deal, Montreal had already lost Andrei Markov for the season to a knee injury and were relying heavily on old veterans (Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek) and a pair of rookies (P.K. Subban and Yannick Weber) on the back end.
When Josh Gorges went down with a knee injury of his own, General Manager Pierre Gauthier sent his second-round pick in 2011 (Johan Sundstrom, 11 GP, 0-1—1) and a conditional fifth to the New York Islanders in exchange for the small but hard-hitting Wisniewski.
Wiz acclimated quickly with the team and over the final 43 games of the regular season lived up to his billing and more. He scored seven goals and 23 assists (including four goals and 12 assists on the power play) to help the Canadiens reach the playoffs where I don’t remember what happened and I certainly don’t want to talk about it.
Wisniewski put up some eye-popping power-play numbers beyond goals and assists during his short time with the club. While he was on the ice with the man advantage, Montreal averaged 8.6 goals scored every 60 minutes. For context, Montreal scored 8.6 goals per 60 minutes during Andrei Markov’s power-play time in 2008-09.
Over Wisniewski’s 174.5 minutes of the man advantage that year, the Habs generated 300 shot attempts, or 3.4 per two minutes. The team has averaged 3.4 shot attempts per full man advantage with Andrei Markov on the ice over the General’s full career.
Wiz was also able to hold his own with a regular shift on defence, with a 52% Fenwick-for percentage at five-on-five (relative to his teammates he was +1.3%, though he did get a favourable offensive zone start percentage). I’d say that to trade a second-rounder for 43 games of #79-level power-play production is pretty fair value in and of itself; getting quality five-on-five play as part of the bargain is even better.
Despite his quality play, Gauthier decided not to sign Wisniewski at his asking price and traded his negotiating rights to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2012. When Jackets GM Scott Howson signed Wiz to a six-year, $33 million contract, that pick turned into the fifth-rounder used to select Charles Hudon.
Wisniewski would have two difficult, injury-riddled seasons before living up to the monster contract by scoring 51 points for the Jackets in 2013-14. Columbus traded the Wiz to Anaheim at the deadline the following season, and Anaheim then traded him to Carolina at the draft. In his first game with the Hurricanes, Wisniewski tore his left ACL on his second shift. The injury ended his season and career.
During my research for this post, I found a few interesting advanced stats for some other one-and-done candidates.
- Did you know that Manny Malhotra received 81.8% of end-zone starts in the defensive end vs. 18.2% in the offensive zone in 2014-15? And that that was only his second-heaviest defensive deployment over his last four seasons? What a way to wrap up a career.
- Did you know that when Mathieu Schnieder rejoined the Habs in 2008-09 at 39 years old the team scored 13.1 goals per 60 minues of Schnieder PP time?
I don't have anything further to say about these stats, just thought they were curious and I wanted to throw them out there.
All stats from Hockey Reference