The primary reason the Caps traded Brooks Laich to Toronto was to get rid of his cap hit. But, as part of the multi-player deal, they also got back Daniel Winnik. Winnik, it turns out, is a perfectly competent bottom-six player who can skate well, kill penalties and is a determined forechecker.
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Winnik is a shot-suppressing superhero.
|12.5||time on ice per game|
|51.8||5v5 shot-attempt percentage|
|47.1||5v5 goal percentage|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2015-16 season. A short description of each chart:
Once he arrived in Washington DC, Daniel Winnik played most of his minutes with some combination of Mike Richards, Tom Wilson, and Jay Beagle. This makes sense. With the Caps, Winnik was slotted as a fourth line player so he was generally paired with fourth line teammates. But Winnik did pretty good things with these minutes, and all three of his most frequent linemates benefited from playing with him.
Here’s a look at how each player did, in terms of shot attempt percentage, with and without Winnik from the time Winnik was dealt to the Caps until the end of the regular season:
(stats courtesy of Corsica)
As you can see, all three of his most frequent linemates did better while playing with Winnik as opposed to when they skated without him.
Heck, Winnik turned Peter’s favorite hockey player, Tom Wilson, into a 50.1 percent possession player. The sample is small due to Winnik not coming to DC until late February, but Winnik was the only teammate with whom Wilson skated 50-plus minutes with during the regular season and had a shot attempt percentage above 50 percent. Yes, you read that right: Daniel Winnik was the only Caps skater who had a shot attempt percentage above 50 percent when skating with Tom Wilson.
Another thing that stands out about Winnik’s numbers with the Caps is that he was the best shot suppressing forward on the team during his time here. The Caps allowed 43.7 shot attempts per 60 against at 5v5 when Winnik was on the ice. Only two other Caps forwards were below 50 shot attempts against per 60 during Winnik’s time here, Beagle (46.1) and Alex Ovechkin (49.9).
The chart below, from Micah McCurdy, shows that Winnik helped nearly all of his teammates keep down the shot attempts against when they shared the ice. The red colored squares indicate the player without Winnik and, as you can see, nearly all of the red squares are further down the Y-axis, indicating more shot attempts against:
Winnik’s ability to limit opponent’s shots also showed up on the penalty kill. According to Corsica, at 4-on-5, the Caps gave up 20.5 fewer shot attempts against per 60 with Winnik on the ice than when he was on the bench. This ranks first among the team’s forwards.
Winnik is back for one more year with the Caps and the team is better off for it. Although he’s unlikely to contribute much offensively, as he’s never had more than 11 goals in a season, he can be a significant part of the bottom six. Winnik will almost certainly begin the season as the Caps fourth line left wing and will also see a lot of minutes on the penalty kill. However he’s deployed, here’s to hoping he can continue his masterful shot suppressing ways of 2015-16.
What did you make of Winnik’s time in DC and how do you see him fitting in next season?
Read more: Japers’ Rink
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