Photo: Amanda Bowen
The Caps’ trade for TJ Oshie was widely regarded as a win for the Washington. The Caps got the most skilled player in the deal and didn’t mortgage the future to do so. But there was also a countervailing argument, even from those who thought the Caps came out ahead in the deal, that the team was moving away from a “heavy” style of play and towards a more skilled, finesse game. Given the comings and goings of Caps’ forwards this offseason, this is partially true.
But one area often associated with a “heavy” style of play where Oshie, perhaps surprisingly, provides an upgrade over Troy Brouwer is net presence. Specifically: generating shots from inside the slot.
(Screening and creating traffic is also a part of net presence, but shots from inside the slot is the more valuable aspect. And, it’s not a giant leap to assume that the player taking more shots from inside the slot is the player more often located inside the slot).
The charts below include all 5v5, regular season play over the past three seasons. The numbers are the shots above or below average a player generates per 60 minutes of ice time. We’re focusing on the slot. Red means they generate more shots than average, blue means fewer.
These images are from the wonderful War on Ice. In cropping to fit the images here, their name got wiped off.
Over the past three seasons, Troy Brouwer’s shot generation from inside the slot has been 1.6 shots per 60 minutes below the league average. Over the same span, TJ Oshie generated 1.87 shots more the league average. That’s a net difference of 3.47 shots per 60 minutes.
If we use each player’s 2014-15 5v5 TOI as a proxy, Oshie will take 32.5 more shots from the slot compared to an average player over the course of a season. Brouwer will take 25.4 fewer. This is a difference of about 58 shots from the slot over the course of a season.
The league average shooting percentage is roughly 8 percent. The league average shooting percentage from the slot is about 18 percent. Therefore, Oshie’s shot generation from inside the slot could be worth roughly ten additional goals compared to Brouwer. This isn’t an exact science, but it helps underscore how Oshie’s net presence and ability to generate meaningful and measurable events in front of the net is important.
So when the Caps are going through a PDO drought this season and someone tells you they miss players like Brouwer going to the “dirty areas,” make sure you let that person know, “well, actually…”
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