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Islanders Grades 2011-12: P.A. Parenteau, Ready for a Fistful of Dollars

Fist <em>pump</em>.
Fist pump.

Forget for a moment (but only for a moment) the summer contract discussion around P.A. Parenteau, the New York Islanders' most important unrestricted free agent. Instead, recall his 53-point breakout season and ask yourself:

Did you expect him to follow it up with 67 points -- tied for 25th most in the NHL in 2011-12?

There are several caveats in this discussion, and many of them are the same caveats that would make a GM treat his contract negotiations carefully:

1. He played mostly with John Tavares -- a better version of Tavares, this season -- and did so more regularly than in 2010-11. (Rebuttal: He also produced when moved away from the Tavares line.)

2. Sure, but it's all assists, right? Just collecting points. (Rebuttal: Parenteau had the fifth-highest primary assists per 60 minutes EV in the league. His stats are not fluffed up by dubious secondary assists.)

3. Yeah, but he gets all that powerplay time. (Rebuttal: 48 of Parenteau's 67 points came at even strength.)

2011 - P.A. Parenteau 80 18 49 67 -8 89 6 18:39 2:56 99 167 10.8

This is not a campaign to say Parenteau is the player you dream of riding shotgun on a powerful first line next to John Tavares and 30-goal man Matt Moulson. It is a suggestion that Parenteau is a useful, productive forward who is liable to help on any number of forward lines (and his righty blade is helpful on the power play as well).

The Cons

So those are things his agent can point to on Twitterr with GMs when angling for a handsome raise. What are Parenteau's drawbacks?

Age: Parenteau is 29 now. This should be his athletic peak (if it hasn't already passed). Combine a natural athletic peak with the relentless motivation to prove yourself NHL-caliber after all those years in the minors, and we have likely seen Parenteau's ceiling. That doesn't mean he can't repeat it, but it does mean we shouldn't expect a healthy contract through his early 30s will continue his upward trajectory. Not that he's Trent Hunter, but just remember how some players slow down as they hit their 30s.

Discipline: He's not big, but Parenteau is one of the Islanders' most physically engaged and vocal skilled players. That's nice for winning pucks, protecting it along the boards and not backing down in battles; it's not nice when it leads to penalties. And Parenteau has taken a lot of them. His 32 minors were by far the most among Islanders forwards (Kyle Okposo was second with 18).

Even if some of the calls he took were unfair, if he has a reputation among some refs that means he doesn't always get the benefit of the doubt, then that's part of the package when evaluating him. It's like associates when running for office: I don't care if what they said about you was untrue, if people believe it then it hurts our campaign.

The Poem

By quote or by tweet
Walsh has your back
But the decision-maker who matters
Ain't saying jack

Is it term you seek
To feel secure and loved?
Or a boatload of money
To bribe into Avery's clubs?

A fistful of Benjamins
Makes not every man happy
But makes it easier to take
When refs are fist#$%ing thee

The Grade

So yes, all of that was a setup for the "How badly do they need to sign him, for how long/how much?" discussion we've had multiple times here and will no doubt rehash again until the moment his next deal is announced with whatever team announces it.

But it's also the context for you to issue our customary grade on his 2011-12 season: What did you expect of him beforehand, and how well did he live up to those expectations?