Devin Setoguchi Needs a Center

Travis Hrubeniuk
July 06 2013 07:45PM

photo via Wikimedia Commons
 

After a long, slow, rather painful day of watching almost every other team in the Jets new Conference get better, Kevin Cheveldayoff finished Free Agent Friday off with a bit of a splash. When all hopes looked lost, Chevy sent the Jets 2014 second round pick to the Minnesota Wild for forward Devin Setoguchi, in an attempt to finally fill the hole to the right of Evander Kane.

I could go on talking about the draft pick that was moved or the fact that Setoguchi is going to be a UFA at the end of next year, but odds are by now you have heard all that. Therefore, I’m going to take this in a bit of a different direction. Assuming the Jets top line of Ladd - Little - Wheeler stays the same, in all likelihood the second line will be made up of Kane - Jokinen - Setoguchi. It was no secret that Jokinen struggled last year, and maybe there is a chance that the revolving door he had at right wing was to blame for that. Could the recently struggling Setoguchi be the answer? Could he really be the guy that will allow Kane more space so he could take the next step? Only time will really tell. But for now, let’s take a look at how Setoguchi has affected his previous line mates.

Devin Setoguchi was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Minnesota Wild for the start of the 2011-2012 season. The Sharks were looking for change and answers for their constant playoff disappointment, and thus traded their once 31-goal, 65-point turned 22-goal, 41-point forward away. Since the move Setoguchi has played most of his 5 on 5 time with C Matt Cullen and LW Dany Heatley, so let’s take a look at how the three of them interacted.

2011-13 5 on 5 With Setoguchi

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Heatley

687:49

0.611

44.7

17.62

49.3

Cullen

640:46

1.030

54.1

17.85

49.4

 

2011-13 5 on 5 Without Setoguchi

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Heatley

1118:04

0.698

46.4

17.08

45.7

Cullen

812:14

0.763

49.2

17.04

46.8

 

2011-13 5 on 5 Setoguchi Apart From

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Heatley

827:19

0.822

47.9

17.02

47.5

Cullen

874:22

0.503

38.6

16.88

47.6

Looking at this I get the feeling that his numbers weren’t drastically affected by Dany Heatley, nor were Heatley’s numbers really affected by Setoguchi. It’s Setoguchi’s relationship with Matt Cullen that I find interesting. If you only looked at how Seto pulled up Cullen, things would be great. I could claim that he can have a positive effect on his center, and that next year there was a decent chance that by adding Setoguchi to the mix, Jokinen would have chance of performing better next season. The problem arises when you look at Setoguchi’s numbers without Cullen over the past couple years. Sure, Setoguchi made Cullen a little better, but Cullen REALLY made Setoguchi better. Especially when you look at his goals-for numbers.

When you compare these numbers to the other two center’s that Seto played most his time with (Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard), you get somewhat similar results. Koivu slightly pulled Seto up Corsi wise, while Seto slightly pulled Koivu down. Seto pulled up Bouchard’s goals-for/20, but Bouchard REALLY pulled up Setoguchi. Is it possible that Setoguchi’s performance is this heavily reliant on his center?

This got me wondering. Could this be a career-trend, or maybe things just weren’t clicking very well in Minnesota. To answer this, I went back a little further and looked at Setoguchi’s days in San Jose. Between the years 2009-11, Devin Setoguchi played most of his time with Joe Thornton as his center, followed by Joe Pavelski. Let’s see how things went.

2009-11 5 on 5 With Setoguchi

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Tornton

772:22

1.062

61.2

20.25

53.1

Pavelski

566:23

0.636

41.9

20.09

51.7

 

2009-11 5 on 5 Without Setoguchi

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Thornton

1501:44

1.026

55.0

19.54

52.2

Pavelski

1312:51

0.975

58.2

22.36

56.5

 

2009-11 5 on 5 Setoguchi Apart From

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Thornton

1011:44

0.692

47.3

19.32

50.9

Pavelski

1217:08

0.953

59.2

19.55

51.9

Look familiar? Once again, Thornton seems to have pulled up Setoguchi more than vice versa, while Seto seems to have really pulled Pavelski’s puck possession numbers down.

What can I conclude from this? In my eyes, this is saying that a lot of Setoguchi’s ability to score and control the puck is reliant on his center, and his ability to develop chemistry. Considering the year that his likely center in Olli Jokinen had last year, that sets off some alarm bells.

Maybe I’m not being fair. Maybe this year was just a statistical anomaly and Olli Jokinen has been better in recent years than he was this past season. Luckily we have a pretty talented right winger in Jarome Iginla that Jokinen has spent, by far, his most time with between the years of 2011-13.

2011-13 5 on 5 With Jokinen

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Iginla

645:37

1.022

49.3

16.11

43.5

 

2011-13 5 on 5 Without Jokinen

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Iginla

1288:01

0.776

50.0

17.59

47.3

 

2011-13 5 on 5 Jokinen Apart From

 

TOI

GF20

GF%

CF20

CF%

Iginla

1153:30

0.607

36.8

18.27

48.6

On the positive side, it looks like Jokinen does have the ability to increase the offensive output of at least some players. The negative? It really doesn’t look like Jokinen is very good at increasing puck possession totals anymore. Therefore if Claude Noel really does end up putting Kane - Jokinen - Setoguchi together, I would recommend the line be relatively sheltered and given a high majority of offensive zone starts. The problem with doing this? From the current looks of things, it is quite likely that Mark Scheifele could stick with the big boys this year, and it would be a lot smart to allow him to grow under sheltered minutes.

All in all, I am quite pleased with the Jets acquisition of Devin Setoguchi. It was a good price, for a guy who can put the puck in the net. What I’m trying to say here is that the pace at which he does so appears to rely on the effectiveness of his center, and the Jets option of Olli Jokinen is likely not going to do the trick. This leaves the Jets with a few options.

1: Hope this all works out for the best. This is probably what will happen. I’m not a fan of this option as it is likely going to lead to a year of line juggling and frustration, but apparently such is life in Winnipeg.

2: Hope Burmistrov or Scheifele pull through. Similar to number one, this option means that the Jets are likely done for the offseason and think they can get it done with this squad. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Burmistrov get a chance as the second line center, but that would require actually signing him and that’s a big question mark right now.

3: Break up Ladd-Little-Wheeler. Without adding another center, this is probably a bad idea. Why? Because Jokinen would likely be moved in with either Ladd or Wheeler, which probably won’t work out so well.

4: Sign or Trade for a Center. Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner. Probably the most unlikely of options, but at this point in time Mikhail Grabovski is still out there. If not Grabovski, then look around and trade for a guy. This will provide the benefit of increased depth, create internal competition, and give players more time to grow.

Both Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi have contracts expiring at the end of this season, and if the two of them play the year together there is a good chance both are gone by October of 2014. Devin Setoguchi remains a young, goal scoring winger that has the potential to really provide the Jets with scoring depth should he be aligned with the proper players. Olli Jokinen likely is not that player, and the Jets need to address that sooner rather than later.

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I write things, you read them. Then tend to yell at me for them. It's okay though, I'm from Winnipeg. I can take it. If you actually do like what I write, give me a twitter follow here (@thrubeniuk): https://twitter.com/thrubeniuk
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#1 Jeremy
July 06 2013, 09:15PM
Trash it!
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trashes
+1
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props

Agreed. I would love to see us go after Graboski, kind of the way Carolina signed semin to a one year 'trial deal'. Give him 5m a year for one year and see if he can play or at the least make schiefle work for a spot. I think his rant against Carlyle hurt his prospects of coming here as I think TNSE loves Carlyle.

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