Earlier in the week, I examined John Carlson as one possibility the Devils can explore in addressing their need on defense via free agency. With a shallow free agent pool, this leaves the Devils with very few top-four or top-six defensive options they can sign. However, another name that may interest the Devils’ front office is Thomas Hickey.
Hickey is a 29-year old defenseman who was a part of the historically bad 2017-18 Islanders defensive core. However, he arguably had the best season of the bunch, as he compiled 25 points in just 69 games. The most baffling statistic is Hickey’s +20 rating, which is stunning given how bad the Islanders struggled on defense. Not only does Hickey provide decent offensive-punch, but he also shows the capability to serve on the penalty kill.
After reading what Hickey has done in regard to his traditional statistics, you may think he can easily slot in as a solid top-six or even an occasional top-four guy. However, it’s important to examine his advanced statistics before making assumptions. Hickey owns a career 50.0 Corsi (CF%), which isn’t bad at all. To go along with that, he also is coming off a year in which his Rel CF% rating was positive. This simply means that when he is on the ice, his team is usually out-attempting their opponent. This is a great thing to see, especially since he played on a team that was out-attempted so often. Ultimately, his advanced possession statistics also follow the theme of a solid top-six defenseman.
Another large part of evaluating possible signings is if they are better than what you already have. Devils defenseman John Moore is also an unrestricted free agent this offseason and it’s worth comparing Hickey’s output to his. In the chart below, it is easy to deduce that Hickey would be a pretty nice upgrade over Moore. He racks up more points and has better analytics than Moore. Interestingly enough, each Hickey and Moore could receive similar contracts this offseason.
|Name||Points per game||CF%||Rel CF%|
In conclusion, in what is such a shallow defensive-free agent pool, Hickey is an above average option. Being an above average option may bring with it an unreasonable price tag. That is what the Devils need to stay away from. If they are able to snag Hickey for a reasonable price, by all means, do it. He would be a nice upgrade in comparison to Moore and slots in nicely as a top-six or top-four blueliner.