There’s really no need to read this piece. Your life will be no better for having read what’s below. Your life might actually get worse. You should probably stop right now.
So the Caps have freed some players over the last few years, and it feels like all of them have turned into beautiful hockey butterflies. The team had good reasons to trade or release some guys; others… not so much. In this still very young season, those hockey butterflies are playing so good it’s like they’re trying to make you jealous. Well, it’s not going to work, hockey butterflies.
Okay, yeah, it is.
I’m gonna take a peek around the league, in a totally non-Facebook-stalker-y way, just to see how certain ex-Caps forwards are doing in their new homes. Pretty freaking well, it turns out. Starting with prospect-bust-turned-Calder-standout Filip Forsberg, lemme run down who has moved on and how they’re doing.
Below is a Vollman player usage chart, packaged by War On Ice. It shows how players perform in possession by shading their circles (red is bad, blue is good) in comparison to how they’re deployed based on zone starts and competition. Players at the top left, for example, see the toughest competition and the most defensive zone starts and are more likely to have negative possession.
A quick rundown of the stats I’m using here:
Eighteen months after the Caps traded him away, Forsberg has become Nashville’s emerging star. With James Neal and Mike Ribeiro at his side, Forsberg has outscored opponents a staggering 19 to 2 during 5v5. While he’s getting pretty nice zone starts (58.7 percent of them in the offensive zone), Forsberg is also facing the opponent’s top competition (judging by them getting 29.22 percent of the opponent’s ice time).
Now, before we go nuts, we should note that Forsberg’s team is shooting 15.32 percent and his goalies are saving 98 percent. But he still looks like a genuine phenom, improving the shot-attempt differential of virtually everyone lucky enough to share a shift with him. Basically, life could not be better for Filip. He’s high-fiving unicorns.
Doesn’t that make you miserable?
Photo: Jeremy K Gover
Just like his linemate Filip Forsberg, Mike Ribeiro is living high off the hog. This is a big reversal from last year, when he was bought out of his multi-year $5.5 million contract by the Coyotes.
I don’t have much to say about the guy. I’m told he’s making Neal a better player, though I suspect he got a cushy gig next to an up-and-coming star. Mostly I’m just impressed that this guy ended up being right.
Oh, this is different.
Grinding for the Oilers, Matt “The Wheel” Hendricks is getting buried in the defensive zone, where he’s started 133 of his 197 shifts that began with a faceoff. That is an extreme deployment– bottom five in the league, next to his linemate and also former Cap Boyd Gordon.
Before you feel too bad for Hendricks, let’s acknowledge that this is his job. Dallas Eakins is using his Caps castoffs to absorb the garbage shifts, freeing up the Oilers’ precious little offensive talent to do damage in the O-zone.
But yeah, he’s getting lit up. At least he’s getting paid.
Marty Erat was a hugely underrated and crassly wasted player for the Capitals (check out those assists again). With a spot in the middle six for the struggling Coyotes (28th in the league in points), Erat is following suit.
Goalies behind Marty are saving just 85.06 percent of shots, which you’d think would be the lowest number in this list, but hold on.
Erat is a solid, somewhat overpaid, and thoroughly un-stunning player. That’s not a bad way to be, but poor Marty doesn’t have much recourse when PDO paints him as a bum. At least his individual achievements, 4 goals and 3 assists, have been badly needed in Glendale.
Mathieu Perreault, dumped from the Capitals roster last summer so that Tom Wilson could burn off a year of his ELC while being wasted on the fourth line, might be Winnipeg’s best player.
He’s in the middle of the lineup, so he’s not facing the toughest competition, but Perreault is sporting the best relative possession on the team (they own 8.33 percent more shot attempts when Matty isn’t on the bench).
The points aren’t really there for Perreault yet, but they will come as soon as his team improves its miserably 2.75 shooting percentage when he’s on the ice.
There aren’t many players as criminally underrated as Mathieu Perreault (I’m at fault for underrating him as well). He’s a superb, tiny depth forward who is finally getting the salary he deserves in the ‘Peg, though the Caps sure could have used his strength down the middle last season.
Oh, sweet baby.
Something is wrong with Sasha. He used to average about 15 shot attempts per 60 minutes of 5v5, putting him in the 93rd percentile in individual shot output. That number has dropped 6.89 this season, which would be about the 18th percentile.
Semin is getting just 83.1 percent goaltending, the worst in this list, but that’s probably not comforting for Semin or his boosters. If the writing on the wall and the word on the street are to believed, Semin may not be long for Carolina.
There would be a lot of teams eager to snatch him up. For some reason, I don’t think Washington would be among them.
Grabo joined his buddy Nikolai Kulemin on Long Island this summer, breaking the heart of at least one Capitals writer. Since they arrived in Brooklyn, Grabovski hasn’t skated next to Kulemin as much as some expected, spending just one fifth of his 5v5 time with Kulemin.
But Grabo has done exactly what we’d expect him to do— keep the puck in the offensive zone and out of his net. He’s getting really good percentages in shooting and saving, but don’t let that undermine the way Grabo is driving play. He hardly ever shares the ice with John Tavares, but Grabovski has given New York a secondary threat. That’s a not-insignificant factor in how the Isles have become arguably the league’s most improved team this season. They currently own second place in the Metro, and I have a feeling they’ll be a primary competitor for the Caps through the end of the regular season and maybe even beyond. Darn it.
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