Apologies for the lateness, but the New Jersey Devils continued tying up their loose ends for the offseason by re-signing Sergey Kalinin. The team announced the signing on their website this morning, which includes the key details. Kalinin will be back with the Devils for one more season at a salary of $800,000.
Now is a good time as any as to provide an overview of what Kalinin has done so far. He was Ray Shero’s first free agent signing with the Devils, way back in May of last year. The 24-year old was signed right from Avangard Omsk of the KHL. While his production did not jump off the page, he played in a leadership role with the team and did represent Russia at the international level beyond his junior years. He wasn’t foreseen as an offensive machine, but it appeared he could play.
In the NHL, Kalinin hung around mostly on the bottom two lines as a winger given his average ice time of 13:19 per game. Per NHL.com, he put up eight goals, seven assists, and seventy shots on net in 78 games with the Devils last season. Kalinin received a decent amount of power play time (101:32), a small amount penalty killing time (18:51), and thirty-three minutes in penalties. Kalinin did have a tendency to charge towards the left post off a zone entry, but he had no other discernible traits about his game. He also had this fun highlight from one of my favorite games of last season. In my mind, it’s his most memorable moment so far as a Devil.
From an analytics standpoint, Kalinin didn’t really stand out too much. According to Puckalytics, his shots for percentage in 5-on-5 play was 44.7%, which ranked fifteenth out of eighteen forwards (min. 100 minutes played in 5-on-5). That shots for percentage broke down to a SF/60 of 22.3 (13th out of 18) and a SA/60 of 27.7 (5th highest out of 18). If we include all attempts - also known as Corsi - Kalinin rated a little better. His CF% of 45.9% ranked ninth among Devils forwards; his CF/60 of 42.1 ranked ninth as well; and his CA/60 of 49.7 was eighth highest among the eighteen forwards. Needless to say, Kalinin was not driving the play. According to Corsica, his time on ice quality of teammates and competition ranked tenth among these eighteen forwards as well. He had more zone starts in the defensive end than on offense, but even in that category he was around the team’s median. So it does not appear that Kalinin was particularly sheltered or had a lot of difficult minutes. While his shooting and Corsi percentages aren’t good on their own, it speaks to how crummy the team was last season that there were players who were worse. (Spoiler: One of those players is also a RFA who will get a new deal soon. No, it’s not Kyle Palmieri.)
In short, Kalinin was a forward for the New Jersey Devils last season. He was not particularly effective or productive. He was by no means one of the least effective forwards or skaters on the team last season. He did what he was told and did what he could. It was not much, but the expectations weren’t that high to begin with. Shero took a flier on him to start and was pleased enough to give him a second contract. As forward depth, the Devils could do worse (and did with Luke Gazdic). It’s hard to complain about that for a one-year commitment at $800,000. Hopefully for his sake, like Jacob Josefson, Kalinin can show a bit more on the ice for the Devils in 2016-17. If only to justify another deal next summer.
While I don’t think that much of Kalinin based on his one NHL season, I think re-signing him makes sense. There’s very little risk given the amount and term. The team isn’t likely to go anywhere in this coming season, so there’s reason to give him a shot to see if he can improve after his first season in North America. What do you make of this re-signing by Shero? What do you expect out of Kalinin in 2016-17? Will he do more than what he has shown last season? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this signing in the comments. Thank you for reading.