Player Name/position: Saku Koivu, C
Overall Grade: A
Contract Status: UFA, Previous cap hit of $3.8 million
2013 Stats: 47 Games Played, 8G 19A 27P, plus-4, 17:36 TOI/G, Faceoff Percentage 51.4%
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 1-2-3, minus-4, 17:52 TOI/G, Faceoff Percentage 52.6% (took the most faceoffs of any Duck in both regular season or playoffs)
Offense: Koivu ended up scoring 0.56 points per game this season, the third highest rate of his four years in Anaheim (0.51 in 2012, 0.6 in 2011, 0.73 in 2010). That sounds about right for a 38-year-old center taking on a more defensive role, but after starting with 20 points in his first 20 games he hit a serious offensive drought.
He found great chemistry with Daniel Winnik and Andrew Cogliano, and in my opinion it was Koivu's play that drove the line's offensive explosion in the first half of the season. With Corey Perry struggling to start the season and the second line not coming together, the Winnik-Koivu-Cogliano line not only kept the Ducks afloat but kept them at the top of the league.
Oddly, he also ended up tied with Ryan Getzlaf for second on the team with four PP Goals. I don't think I'll ever understand what Boudreau is thinking with those PP combinations.
Defense: It's a toss up between Koivu and Winnik for who was the Ducks' best defensive forward this season, but I'll go with Koivu. He was one of only five Ducks with a positive corsi on the season (1.06) and played the second highest quality of competition among Anaheim forwards (behind Peter Holland?!?). He also finished second among forwards in shorthanded time on ice (2:05) only behind Winnik (2:32) in the regular season.
Anecdotally, I'd have to say his defensive peak was Game 1 of the playoffs, where Zetterberg and Datsyuk were shut down harshly by his line. Unfortunately, there were six games left in the series and as it wore on the Detroit stars were able to figure it out/get away from those shut down players and make a huge impact.
Highlight of the Season: For the most part, Koivu's game is about subtlety, but this shootout goal against St. Louis (3:30 of the highlight pack below) was SIIIIIIIIICK!
Expectations for Next Year: He's not quite Teemu (who is?) in terms of his age or loyalty to the team, so there is some question of him returning for next year. However, after having such a great 2013, I expect him to be back and I don't see any reason why he would jump ship now, unless salary cap/budgetary concerns come into play because of the Getzlaf/Perry contracts.
As far as his play, this year was so out of this world for Saku, you can't really even expect him to keep this pace up. Coming into the season, I expected him to take a lesser role in the team, but he turned out to be the best player on the ice many nights. Much like other outstanding performances the Ducks have seen in the past couple of years, specifically Lubomir Visnovsky and Perry in 2011 and to a lesser extent Teemu in 2012, he's bound to have a drop off season in 2014, should he return.