FanPost

Potential Effects of Offseason Changes


Every player, from Ryan Getzlaf to Bryan Allen, has an impact on his team and his teammates. Although each player most directly affects his linemates, his presence and performance ripple through the line-up. Ergo, there are good and bad influences, just like in high school, with jocks, stoners, etc. First, I’m going to look at the overall effects of the player exodus we’ve witnessed, and then I’ll look a little more closely at each new player, individually. At the end, I’ll post best case and worst case scenarios.

A brief caveat: I am and have been in Chile for the past two years, so it’s a little hard for me to follow everything as closely as I would like. Still, I made the effort last year to watch all the Ducks games on NHL GameCenter, staying up to 4am on many occasions. Also, I’m still a noob in regards to advanced stats, so don’t grade me too harshly.

The Grand Exodus
If we take a look at last year’s stats, the Ducks have lost 6 of their top 13 scorers. In order of contribution these are: Nick Bonino (3), Mathieu Perreault (4), Dustin Penner (7, yes 7), Daniel Winnik (9), Saku Koivu (11), and Teemu Selanne (13). Here’s a closer look at their stats:

GP

G

A

P

+/-

FO%

ZS%

QoC

CF%

Bonino

77

22

27

49

14

48.8

50.3

27.8

49.7

Perreault

69

18

25

43

13

52.7

53.6

27.5

51.6

Penner

49

13

19

32

22

-

50.4

29.6

49.9

Winnik

76

6

24

30

6

-

48.3

28.9

48.0

Koivu

65

11

18

29

3

50.4

44.7

29.3

46.3

Selanne

64

9

18

27

8

-

55.2

27.8

51.6


As a team, the Ducks produced 709 points. In addition to the above six, the Ducks also lost Sbisa, Robidas, and Holland. In summation, that’s a loss of 222 points, or 31.3% of our total point production.

Aside from pure numbers, one must take into consideration the pieces we’ve lost: 5 Centers (counting Winnik and Holland), 2 Wingers (Penner and Selanne), and 2 Defenseman (Sbisa and Robidas). It’s fair to note that Winnik mostly played wing, though he was there as an option, and Holland played only 4 games. On the negative side, we lost two legends and our assistant captains in Selanne and Koivu. And even though they weren’t the young guns of their prime, they were a presence on and off the ice. Sbisa and Robidas only combined to play 44 games. But the most glaring loss is clearly down the middle, at center. Not only do we lose three fourths of our starting centers, but we’re losing point production as well. Scoff at the contributions of Penner, Sbisa, and Holland, if you’d so like, but losing the skill AND production of Perreault, Bonino, and even Koivu is substantial. Bones and Perreault had what you could call career years. Their reliability was clutch and filling their shoes won’t be easy.

In case you forgot already, also bounced out of Anaheim is one named Jonas Hiller, our go-to guy from the get-go. Hiller started the majority of our regular season games, at 50. No other Anaheim goalie started half of that. Though his GAA was a little high (2.48) and his SV% was a mere .911, he posted 5 shutouts and 29 wins. For whatever reason Bob & Bruce chose not to use him in the playoffs, but we wouldn’t have been there without him.

The Replacements
Bob Murray has brought in: 3C (Ryan Kesler, Nate Thompson, Louis Leblanc), W (Dany Heatley), D (Clayton Stoner), and G (Jason LaBarbera). Here’s a look at some of their stats, for comparison with those above:

GP

G

A

P

+/-

FO%

ZS%

QoC

CF%

Kesler

77

25

18

43

-15

52.6

48.1

29.6

52.4

Thompson

81

9

7

16

3

50.9

44.4

27.4

51.0

Heatley

76

12

16

28

-18

-

53.8

27.7

44.5

Stoner

63

1

4

5

6

-

44.2

27.4

46.5


Targeted Areas of Improvement

Brilliant Bob has constantly been quoted saying we need to get "bigger and stronger" and something like "grittier." He seems to have done that in signing 4 big bodies, each of whom is a bigger body than the man he’s replacing: Kesler > Bones, Thompson > Perreault, Heatley > Selanne, and Stoner > Sbisa. Don’t worry, by > I simply mean bigger, not necessarily better.

Now, in looking at the intangibles, the stats, we might be able to infer some desired areas of change. One of which, in my opinion, is improving our FO%. This stat is directly correlated to the following: puck possession and zone starts. The Ducks have recently been a fairly poor face-off team. Last year, our best face-off man was Perreault (52.7), but he had better zone starts than any other center and he was also pretty sheltered in regards to QoC. Our stud center was Koivu (50.4) with the toughest zone starts against some of the toughest competition. Getzlaf (49.0), Rakell (49.0), and Bonino (48.8) all lost more face-offs than they won. New guys Kesler (52.6) and Thompson (50.9) boast better FO% than all of our remaining centers. And Kesler did so against elite competition.

Looking specifically at last year’s playoffs, the Ducks were flat-out dominated in the face-off circle, noticeably so against the Kings. The ramifications of such were overly evident on the ice and surely Bob Murray & staff desire improvement in this area, not just in the playoffs but consistently. The amount of lost face-offs dramatically decreased our puck possession numbers and therefore our zone starts as well. If you don’t start play with the puck it will be (unsurprisingly) difficult to win. You see less of the puck, you’re forced to start defensively, you develop less chances, you score less goals. Luckily, we had shooting percentage in our favor. But if you bank on this regressing, even slightly, it would help immensely to improve the team’s puck possession. This starts in the face-off circle.

In comparing regular season and playoff stats for the Ducks (those departing, remaining, and arriving), I made some startling discoveries. I will now repost FO% and CF% for the regular season (S) and the playoffs (P) side-by-side. It’s rather appalling…

Departing:

FO% Season

FO% Playoffs

CF% Season

CF% Playoffs

Bonino

48.8

45.8

49.7

45.1

Perreault

52.7

43.1

51.6

46.6

Koivu

50.4

56.5

46.3

41.3

Winnik

-

-

48.0

38.6

Selanne

-

-

51.6

43.7

Remaining:

FO% Season

FO% Playoffs

CF% Season

CF% Playoffs

Getzlaf

49.0

39.4

51.1

46.4

Rakell*

49.0

63.8

55.7

44.8

Arriving:

FO% Season

FO% Playoffs

CF% Season

CF% Playoffs

Thompson*

50.9

62.5

51.0

47.3

Heatley

-

-

44.5

56.0

Stoner

-

-

47.5

53.1

* only played 4 playoff games

For last season’s Ducks, there were drastic drop-offs in stats, individually and collectively. In two series (against Dallas and LA), every C regressed in FO% with the exceptions of Koivu, who’s gone, and Rakell, who played only 4 games against the softest match-ups. Bones and Perreault, while near 50% during the regular season, dropped well below that number in the playoffs. I don’t know what Getzlaf was doing but he sure as hell wasn’t taking face-offs. In regards to Corsi, just about every Duck regressed significantly come playoff time.

As for arriving Ducks, the two former Wild members made significant Corsi improvements in their two playoff series (against Colorado and Chicago). Thompson, while appearing to regress slightly in Corsi, was actually above his team’s average while they were being eliminated by Montreal in 4 games. He was also dynamite in the face-off circle (62.5). Kesler has no playoff data to assess from this year. He was, however, a stellar 60.2% in the face-off circle for team USA in Sochi.

Two New Centermen
Clearly, the Ducks struggled winning face-offs in the playoffs, and their puck possession took a massive hit. Their zone starts were much more often from the defensive end of the ice, resulting in more work, more energy expended, and less opportunities at the other end of the rink. It’s clear that Bob Murray & Co. want to make improvements at the dot, not only in the playoffs but in the regular season as well. Kesler and Thompson both seem to address that need, as they both win face-offs, and then take their game to another level when it matters most. If they can continue to do this next season in a Ducks sweater, the Ducks’ possession game should improve dramatically. Two final notes to make here. Assuming Rakell plays a more prominent role this season, he will be called upon to take more draws and he will face tougher competition. This could lower his FO%. Getzlaf, who has always been subpar at face-offs (in my opinion), should actually see a boost in his FO% thanks to Kesler’s arrival.

Kesler will likely be relied on to take many D-zone draws and to shut down the opponents’ top lines. This should take some pressure off Getzlaf, allowing him to improve in this area. Thompson will likely take many D-zone draws as well, just like he did for Tampa Bay. Winning face-offs, whether defensive, offensive, or neutral-zone, will allow us to start with the puck more often, enabling us to drive possession and spend more time creating chances, not defending them.

Why Stoner?
As you can probably imagine, it’s difficult to find the logic behind this move. Some might say impossible. Anti-logic? Well, let’s look at what Bob’s said. He clearly had his sights set on Stoner sometime in the past. He also seems to have watched him closely during this year’s playoffs. If this is one of the predominant factors, his signing is not so wildly shocking. Stoner stepped his game up quite a bit come playoff time. If you compare his season stats to those of the playoffs, he improved in nearly every area. While a good sign, this is a limited sample size. I also took note of two things about Stoner’s stats. One, he played very limited minutes. He averaged 13.2 min/game during the season and only 12.2 min/game in the playoffs. Secondly, while his QoC was mediocre at best (27.4%), his QoT was significantly worse (23.7%). That’s a pretty low number given to his teammates. The Wild’s style of play also has to be taken into account, as they were not a great possession team during the season. This, in addition to his limited ice time and poor QoT, surely hurt his stat lines.

Looking logically at the signing, it makes no sense because we now have (debatably) 8 NHL defensemen. Ultimately, this means one of them is expendable. I infer one of three things here. Possibility 1: someone is legitimately hurt and BM is worried (maybe Beauchemin?). Possibility 2: someone is on his way out (Allen please?). And Possibility 3: Bob Murray is just a twit who took "bigger and stronger" wAAAy too far.

O, Dany Boy
I’m not going to make a huge deal out of this signing because it’s low risk. His contract is short-term and cheap. Things I noticed looking at his stats: His shooting percentage has been above 10% for the past 4 seasons (this is very good). The only things that have dropped over that time span are his TOI, subsequently his shot totals, and his QoT. You can argue he’s just older and slower, and they therefore give him less minutes. But, his decreased point production only parallels the ice time he’s been given and his QoT. Maybe putting him alongside Getzlaf or Kesler, with more minutes, will provide valuable results. Keep in mind, last season he potted 28 points while averaging only 14.5 minutes/60. This production clip is pretty similar to the likes of Maroon, Palmieri, Selanne, Koivu, Silfverberg, etc, but with inferior QoT. Put Heatley on the top line and see how he does. It can’t hurt to try.

In Closing
It seems like Bob Murray had in mind one particular area of improvement: puck possession. And he tried to achieve this while simultaneously getting bigger and harder to play against. If the evidence holds up, our numbers in the face-off circle should improve significantly, carrying into the playoffs as well (and not plummeting like last year). This should undoubtedly have positive effects on puck possession and zone starts. Even if S% drops, the Ducks should develop more chances this year, making said regression a moot point. Losing such depth at center seems to have been covered. Losing a few wingers has been compensated by signing Dany Heatley AND expecting multiple youngsters to step their game up. Not entirely sure yet about Stoner. Leblanc seems like a depth signing just in case someone goes down, and same goes for LaBarbera.

Potential Effects of the Arrivals
Kesler
Best Case: He stays healthy enough to play 70+ games, alleviates pressure from Getzlaf and Perry, shuts down opposing teams’ top lines, and contributes offensively as well.
Worst Case: He gets a knock and plays max 40 games, helping while he’s in the lineup but hurting it with his absence.

Heatley
Best Case: He earns a spot on one of the top lines, increases his shot total while maintaining his S% and pots 50+ points again.
Worst Case: He gets relegated to the bottom 6, sometimes the press box, but contributes a little and helps mentor the up-and-comers.

Stoner
Best Case: He surprises everyone (except Bob), plays adequate shut-down defense, and doesn’t entirely screw us over.
Worst Case: He plays worse than Allen yet somehow plays 70+ games and finishes -30.

Thompson
Best Case: He dominates the face-off circle as a gritty, consistent bottom 6 guy, posting career highs in points.
Worst Case: He hovers around 50% in the circle until he plays in the absence of Kesler and then struggles.

LeBlanc
Best Case: He plays all season in Norfolk and develops his game.
Worst Case: He gets called up when Kesler’s domino-effect injury takes place. Then he gets promptly owned.

LaBarbera
Best Case: He rides the pine or plays in Norfolk and never sees a minute of NHL time.
Worst Case: He takes the place of an injured Freddie and plays more Swiss than Hiller (think cheese).


Say what you will, but Bob Murray does have some sort of plan. Even if it’s beyond our comprehension, he has some logic for every move he made, skewed or not. We currently speculate and bicker, claiming superior knowledge than BM, waiting desperately for October to get here so we can justify our righteous anger. But until then, all we can do is speculate.

This article is user-generated. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Anaheim Calling. Please do not link this article as representative of Anaheim Calling content or viewpoints . . . unless it's <em>really</em> really good.

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