On February 3, The Hockey News Steven Ellis wrote in interesting post charting the best goal-scoring bargains in the NHL. In this article, he basically charted how much salary it took per goal for all NHL players. In the true sense, he asked, “Who is the bang for the buck among NHL goal scorers?”
The answer surprised me – and happily so because I’m a big fan of this player. It was Tyler Ennis of the Ottawa Senators. Ennis is paid a little more than NHL league minimum at $800,000 per season. But he’s had a good season bouncing around a Senators’ lineup but still adding value.
Specifically, Ennis has scored 13 goals, 17 assists, and 30 points on the season, which is a cost-per-goal rate of $65,538. And, to everyday Canadian workers who put in their 40 hours per week, $800,000 probably seems like lots of money. In fact, it is – more than the average salary for a Canadian employee in any province; however, for a hockey player – as I noted – that’s a pretty incredible bang for the buck.
Ennis’ History in the NHL: Who knew He Was so Good?
I have to admit, I came to know and appreciate Ennis’ play last season when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had just had his contract bought out by the Minnesota Wild and signed a bargain-basement contract with the Maple Leafs. He performed well. Specifically, he lined up everywhere from the first line to the fourth – depending upon where he was needed by the team. He gave them what they needed. I also personally liked that he was an Edmonton lad and, because I had taught at the University of Alberta for more than 40 years, he seemed like a visit back home.
When Ennis broke into the NHL, he was a promising young winger – fast, explosive, skilled. However, a series of injuries squashed those high expectations; but, although Ennis’ career has had ups and downs, he’s always played well.
He’s always been able to score. Three times, between 2010-11 and 2014-15, Ennis scored more than 20 goals per season. Now, in 596 games, he has 130 goals and 176 assists for 306 points. That’s more than one point every two games.
Ennis is also versatile, which is one reason he bounces around. Coach D.J. Smith can play anywhere the team asks him to play and do so with some efficiency and impact.
Once upon a time, Ennis was speculated to being on the way to stardom in the NHL, and his early seasons were impressive. With the Buffalo Sabres, he scored 49 points as a rookie and was a solid 40-point guy until injuries slowed him in 2015-16 when he played only 23 games.
Since those injuries, Ennis hasn’t been the dynamic speedster that made him so effective with the Sabres. However, he adds value in other ways. Last year with the Maple Leafs, Ennis didn’t play every day but his numbers still suggest he’s a high-value player – especially for his salary.
This Season with the Senators
With the Senators, he was a low-risk addition, which has paid off for the team. Now, at just 30 years of age, Ennis hasn’t yet passed his best playing days. He’s still plenty fast. He’s still skilled. And, he’s still hungry to play hockey.
With the Ottawa Senators this season, Ennis has bounced around the lineup but, as noted, has still scored 13 goals and 30 points – all for an $800,000 cap hit. He might even hit 20 goals, which seems incredible value for a Senators’ team that’s in the middle of a rebuild. If he could hit 40 points, that wouldn’t be far from his production in his prime. His best season was his rookie season with 49 points.
In the last five games he’s played, Ennis has picked up two goals and three assists. Until the Maple Leafs game on February 1 where he didn’t have a point, he had a four-game point streak going. He’s still productive, even if the team struggles to win. His off-season move to the Senators has given Ennis an offensive spark and that’s probably because he’s been given more regular ice time. He’s averaging over 14 minutes per game.
Will the Senators keep him? I hope they do. He’s a steal of a deal, and as Ellis’ article points out, the best bang for the buck in the NHL.
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