August 03 2011 12:40AM
As August arrives in the city that rainfall forgot (and we've loaned all our mosquitoes to Edmonton in the bargain, apparently), the languid pace of the NHL's summer allows us a chance to examine some of last year's work from the best forwards on the Jets. In today's installment, we'll put the seven current locks for the club's top nine under the microscope.
I'm a big believer in the premise that what happens at EV largely determines a team's success over time. Special teams play results tend to be fairly volatile, but out-shooting, particularly when the game is tied, seems to be a repeatable skill that indicates whether a team is actually good, or just riding fortune.
Last year's Thrasher squad certainly seemed to ride a bit of good fortune, since they were handily out-shot early in the year on the way to posting a 19-11-5 record on December 20th. That flipped in the team's last 47 games, as the young forwards began to play better while getting poorer results. In total, the club's EV-tied numbers reflected a very average squad in the end, scoring 59 goals when the game was tied while allowing 58, and that looked just about right. They were right around .500 in terms of shots for/against and the team had a 100.1 PDO, which indicates a team as middling as could be.
The primary forwards rode that sort of roller coaster as well. The following chart covers the full season EV-tied advanced stats for the six main forwards that finished 10/11 in Atlanta, as well as Eric Fehr. The shooting numbers are from Timeonice.com, while the Qcomp and ZS numbers are from behindthenet.ca. I've combined Blake Wheeler's numbers from Boston and Atlanta, and his ice time in Atlanta indicates that he was facing the toughs once he headed down there, so Gabe's blended Qcomp for the year seems about right. The QComp numbers are the rankings amongst the six forwards in question, with Fehr's number showing his ranking amongst Washington's regulars.
|BLAKE WHEELER (TOTAL)||0.515||0.504||0.490||0.955||5.6%||101.1||2nd *||53.4%|
There's nothing too far out of line here. Little and Ladd had to carry the mail most of the year, and although Little had a lot of help from his goalies and his coach in terms of starting position, he had decent numbers, especially for a player that likely shouldn't be facing top-line forwards as a matter of course. Ladd is the real McCoy, obviously, and earned his new deal based on some hard graft. Burmistrov was whipped pretty badly, spared only by the fates, and again, considering that a proper organization would have left him in Barrie last season, his numbers are about right. There are very few 18 year olds that have any business being in the NHL.
Eric Fehr's full season numbers were hampered by injury and a diminishing role in Washington, but he's not a terrible player, and a team as weak on the right side as Winnipeg appears to be will welcome any competent winger. He might not get the sort of juicy ZS that Bruce Boudreau handed him last season, though, so expectations for next season should be somewhat tempered.
As I mentioned, the club got off to a good start in the standings, so I thought I'd break off the EV tied shooting data for the five players that were with the Thrashers during the club's first 35 games:
Hmm. Pretty tough to keep those percentages going for the three gents in the middle of the table, and of course, they didn't. Kane and Antropov were poor and unlucky, but the rising tide of the club obscured that, or maybe more accurately, the unsustainable play of Ondrej Pavelec. Burmistrov wasn't ready at this point, but a 106.7 PDO hides a lot of flaws.