Zac Rinaldo: Traded To Boston (1 Season Later)

On June 26th, 2015 Ron Hextall pulled off a shocker and traded Zac Rinaldo to the Boston Bruins for a 3rd Round Pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. It was widely panned as a terrible move by new Bruins’ General Manager Don Sweeney, and celebrated as a great move by Hextall. At the time our own writer Scott reported that Hextall was wanted by the Philadelphia Police Department for Crimes Against Humanity. That 2017 3rd Rounder is still just an asset, but let’s take a minute to examine what this trade has done for both teams so far.

The Argument For the Bruins/Rinaldo

  • The Bruins got a player they could immediately slot into the line-up (he played 52 games)
  • 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points
  • Ranked 75th throwing 154 Hits
  • 2.96 Hits per game (16th among Forwards after eliminating anyone below 50 total hits)
  • 6 fights all season, and was voted to have a 1-3-2 record in those fights
Fights

The first concession you have to make in order to argue for the Bruins/Rinaldo is that fighting still has a place in the game. Does it? That’s debatable, but this kind of goes beyond that a bit. A better question would be; is there a place in the NHL for a player who doesn’t contribute anything but hits and fights?

In my opinion the resounding answer to that question is no, but let’s pretend it’s not. Of Rinaldo’s 6 fights at least 3 were staged, and absolutely useless. 2 were him answering for throwing hits and generally trying to spark his team. 1 was arguably him playing the part of Policeman, but not really because it was a secondary fight to the main event (also it was pretty clear Dziurzynzki – below – wanted no part of it).

Rinaldo Provides Some "Jam" (via Boston Globe - Getty)

Rinaldo Provides Some “Jam” (via Boston Globe – Getty)

Hits

Rinaldo threw hits at the 16th highest rate among forwards in the league. Looking at the list of 15 guys ahead of Zac there are some players who are clearly much better (Kunitz, Lucic, Backes). Then there’s another group of players that are slightly more useful because they doubled Rinaldo’s offensive output per 60 minutes while also providing more hits (Martin, Clutterbuck, Wilson).

So who are Rinaldo’s peers? Well they are very few; Tanner Glass, Mike Brown, and Ryan Reaves. We’re truly scraping the bottom of the NHL barrel here. It’s interesting to note that even in this company Rinaldo is last in points per 60 minutes played, and also in hits per 60 minutes played.

Wait.. wasn’t this supposed to be the section in favour of Rinaldo? Damn.. this is hard..

The Argument Against the Bruins/Rinaldo

I will be comparing Rinaldo to the 411 Forwards who played at least 30 games and 200 minutes last season (guys I would consider to be at least fringe NHLers)

  • 0.43 Points per 60 minutes, 401st out of 411 forwards in the NHL
  • 11.56 Penalty Minutes per 60 minutes played, 10th highest among forwards in the NHL
  • 38.8% of Shot Attempts For/Against, 410th out of 411 forwards in the NHL (only Jared Boll was worse). It’s worth mentioning that Rinaldo’s zone starts were relatively favorable at 48.6% Offensive vs. Defensive (so I don’t see a defensive zone start bias)
  • Of Bruins who played more than 50 minutes with Rinaldo only Max Talbot saw a slight increase in Shot Attempts Ratio when paired with him.. the other 12 Bruins skaters in that category were decidedly better when not playing with Zac
  • He was a -5 in Goals For/Against
  • Rinaldo was suspended.. again..
League Worst Points/60 – League Most PIM/60

The statistics don’t lie in this particular case. He played very sparingly, took a boatload of penalties when he did play, and contributed nothing offensively. There are not many NHL regulars who were as bad as Rinaldo.. Brandon Bollig, and Jordan Tootoo are 2 who jump off the page though. Bollig had 1 more point and a slightly higher PIMs per 60 minutes rate, Tootoo had a few more points and a slightly lower PIMs per 60 rate. These 2 players are pretty much in the same boat as Rinaldo, they’re bad and shouldn’t be in the NHL.

Noted terrible player Brandon Bollig gets paid $1.25m by the Calgary Flames! Why? We may never know.

Noted terrible player Brandon Bollig gets paid $1.25m by the Calgary Flames! Why? We may never know, it’s one of life’s great mysteries.

League Worst Shot Attempts Ratio

With Rinaldo being so bad offensively you would hope that he could at least prevent offensive opportunities, but no. He doesn’t. He was 2nd to worst with only Jared Boll eclipsing his ineptitude in the entire NHL. Max Talbot somehow saw a 2.2% uptick in Shot Attempts Ratio when paired with Zac (from 39.3% to 41.5% nothing to celebrate). The next 12 skaters in descending ice time played with him were much worse off. Torey Krug in particular saw 13.3% decrease in that Shot Attempts Ratio when on the ice with Rinaldo. Zac’s presence on the ice for any amount of time made the other Bruins players much MUCH worse.

Aside from shooting statistics the Bruins scored 11 goals with Rinaldo on the ice and allowed 16. Being a -5 in goal differential usually isn’t a huge deal over an entire season, but in this case those 5 goals may have cost the Bruins a couple points. Considering the Bruins missed the playoffs by just 3 points it’s reasonable to point at a stat like that and think about if they had utilized a different player.

Maybe without Rinaldo the Bruins 4th line breaks even? Maybe the team doesn’t allow those 5 extra goals? Maybe they win 2 more games? Maybe they sneak ahead of Philadelphia with 97 points? That’s a lot of maybes.. and a lot of speculation.. but I can’t ignore it totally.

Suspensions

Rinaldo was suspended again (above hit to the head of Tampa’s Paquette). That means the Bruins were not required to pay him, but they were required to keep cap space open for Rinaldo’s salary and could not use that space for another player (as per the CBA). For a team that’s constantly spending near the cap ceiling that’s a harmful thing for the Bruins. Not totally terrible since it’s only $850k, but still hindering should the Bruins need cap space to trade for a rental, etc. The fact that he’s a repeat offender makes him even more likely to receive a longer and potentially damaging suspension.

The Argument For the Flyers

  • Traded away a player who actively made those around him worse. Classic example of the ‘Hextall Special’ improvement by subtraction (see also: Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn).
  • Historically 3rd Round Picks have about a 15% chance of playing 50+ NHL games
Flyers are better without him

Just as in Boston, when Rinaldo was in Philadelphia he actively made the team worse. Among those who played more than 50 minutes with Zac upticks in Shot Attempt Ratios were seen for Nick Schultz (1.1%), Del Zotto (0.7%), Luke Schenn (0.1%), Sean Couturier (8.5% – !?), and Jason Akeson (15.2% – !!!???). Not sure how Couturier and Akeson saw that much of an increase, but rest assured both were at the very low end of the 50 minute sample size. The other 10 skaters Rinaldo played with saw a decrease in Shot Attempt Ratio when playing with him, most times quite drastically.

Matt Bernot had this to say about Rinaldo’s 2014/15 Season in Philadelphia 

The 3rd Rounder

Since it takes some time for 3rd Round Picks to develop let’s take a quick look at the 2010 to 2013 NHL Entry Drafts.

  • 2010 – 12/30 Picks have played 1 NHL game
    • 5/30 have played 50+ games
  • 2011 – 17/30 Picks have played 1 NHL game
    • 6/30 have played 50+ games
  • 2012 – 13/30 Picks have played 1 NHL game
    • 3/30 have played 50+ games
  • 2013 – 9/30 Picks have played 1 NHL game
    • 4/30 have played 50+ games

Generalizing it appears as though the 2017 3rd Round Pick should have about a 42.5% chance of developing into a player who reaches the NHL for at least 1 game (by about 2020). I would consider that type of player to likely be an AHL regular. Someone with very little to offer the NHL club. But.. there’s also a 15% chance that player develops into a slightly better fringe NHLer (or better) who may go on to play 50+ NHL games.

Former Flyers 3rd Round Pick / Awesome Person / Calder Nominee, Shayne Gostisbehere

Former Flyers 3rd Round Pick / Awesome Person / Calder Nominee, Shayne Gostisbehere

Just for kicks.. the Philadelphia Flyers had 5 former 3rd Rounders play on their roster last season! Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Ryan White, Nick Cousins, and Jordan Weal!

Ron Hextall is a genius, and the Flyers are a much better team without Rinaldo.. the 3rd Rounder is just icing on the cake!

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