Erik Condra Is Worth Re-Signing For Ottawa


Early in the season, Ottawa knew they had plenty of work to do in terms of re-signing both unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents. There are still some key RFA’s to sign, but as of now the only two UFA’s that could test the open market are Erik Condra and Andrew Hammond. Hammond is most likely going to re-sign, leaving Condra as a possibility to go some place else.

While Condra may seem like an insignificant piece that the Senators can easily afford to lose, the opposite is true, as he is a major possession driver and is one of Ottawa’s best defensive forwards. The Senators RFA’s will eventually sign, so I would not worry about them too much as of now. But Condra has never been a favourite amongst the teams coaches and management for some reason, so it’s very easy to see him leaving. He needs to be the focus for Bryan Murray and his management team right now, because he is vital to the team’s success and should be re-signed.

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That may seem odd for a player that has a career high of 25 points, but he completely changes how well the third or fourth line does. It was evident that he helped Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Curtis Lazar on that line, and not the other way around. Condra will never be a point producer, and his shooting can be downright awful at times. But that’s why people assume he is bad, because he doesn’t have the kind of swagger that other snipers will have.

Don’t be fooled though, Condra is a good player and the numbers back that up. No, he is not a top six player, but he’s an extremely efficient third line player that does all the little things right and contributes to the teams defence. Here is his HERO chart for the past few seasons:

As you can see, the defensive part of his game is clearly his strongest asset. The way he limits shot attempts is at a fringe first line player rate, which is extremely valuable for a team that normally has poor defense. If you want to improve on your goals against (and shots against), maybe they should play Condra a bit more than his low-level fourth liner ice time indicates.

You’ll also notice that in terms of actual production from goals and assists is low, but that’s to be expected. He doesn’t have a good shot, although he is an underrated passer. And even though he doesn’t rack up the points, he still generates offense. His shot attempt rates are approaching levels of a first line player, and his actual goals per 60 when he’s on the ice is still at a respectable third line level.

At 5 on 5, Condra is a valuable player. However, on the penalty kill he is Ottawa’s best forward. Despite playing only 68 games, he led Ottawa forwards in ice time at 4 on 5.  He was also second on the team (only to Jared Cowen somehow) in relative corsi on the penalty kill, at +4.9%. There may be some other players that step up in his role next year on the penalty kill like Pageau and Mark Stone, but they won’t be nearly as effective as Condra.

Despite receiving tough assignments from the coach, Condra was able to consistently be a solid possession player

Condra also was given tough minutes this year, as he was began many shifts in the defensive zone (as he should). Dave Cameron recognizes his skills, and the defensive zone is where he is most valuable. 35.4% of his shifts began in the defensive zone, 4th highest on the team. The three players ahead of him (David Legwand, Mark Borowiecki, and Eric Gryba) and Jared Cowen behind him all had sub-50 possession numbers, while Condra was still able to post a 50.7% CF%.

Not only was he in the defensive zone a lot, he also was hardly in the offensive zone to start, having the lowest offensive zone start % on the team (25.2%). Despite receiving tough assignments from the coach, Condra was able to consistently be a solid possession player.

Ottawa has a pretty much set top six forward group right now, and if the team is smart for once they will keep Mike Hoffman on the second line. They can score goals, and that won’t be a problem. They don’t need Condra to score goals, they just need him to be solid defensively on the third line, which is what he did this year.

Apr 26, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators right wing Erik Condra (22) and Montreal Canadiens center

Tomas Plekanec

(14) battle for position in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre. The Canadiens won 1-0 and take the series 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Pageau and Lazar proved to be valuable on that third line, but without Condra that magic on that line doesn’t happen. If the Senators let him walk in free agency, there will be a major hole in the bottom six. I am all for giving guys like Shane Prince and Matt Puempel a chance to make that team, but that should be at the expense of guys like Chris Neil, David Legwand, and Zack Smith.

It’s easy to group Condra in with those players as well, but let’s not kid ourselves. He’s an important part of the team, even if he goes unnoticed 90% of the time. The beauty of it all? He should be able to come relatively cheap. His current contract has a cap hit of only $1.25 million, and I wouldn’t expect more than say $2.5 million on his next deal. The only worrying thing is that advanced stats can now be a part of contract negotiations, so perhaps his agent will try to get his client more money.

I think Condra wants to stay with the team, and if they give him a decent offer he’ll re-sign. However, I’m not so sure Ottawa wants him, which is very concerning. Firstly, because they could possibly lose him, but secondly because it shows that some of the people making the teams decisions might not be so bright. The Senators were willing to receive almost anything for Condra at the deadline, but couldn’t move him.

No matter what they thought of him before, I hope Murray and co. realize that he needs to stay with the team. I would be willing to give him a contract as long as 4 years, and up to about $2.5-3 million. That seems like it’s on the larger scale of things, but in reality that’s what he should be getting.

I really hope he’s still a member of the team next year, as he’s just a lovable guy. No matter what happens, we’ll always have remember that he inexplicably scored a breakaway goal on Carey Price in the playoffs.

Next: Needs Improvement: End of Season Ottawa Awards