Now that the dust has settled on this summer's free-agent frenzy and the mainstream analysis is complete, it's time to hear from the number-crunchers.
To arrive at these results, a panel of 22 leading names from the hockey analytics community was assembled, across a broad spectrum of locations and perspectives; media members (both mainstream and independent) as well as researchers were included in the group. Each panelist was sent a list of the 68 restricted and unrestricted free agents that agreed to a new contract with an annual cap hit of at least $2.0 million, on or after the 2016 draft (June 24-25). Using statistical criteria and standards of their own choosing, but setting aside more subjective factors like grit, leadership and clutch play, each statistical expert either approved, disapproved, or expressed neutrality on each contract.
Overall, approval dropped from 66.5 percent last summer to 59.8 percent for this year's free-agent contracts. Breaking it down by type and position, the highest approvals were for restricted free-agent forwards (76.1 percent) and unrestricted free-agent defensemen (72.7), and 11 of the 68 contracts received approval ratings of 90 percent or higher.