Lars Eller bounced back from a down year, but did he bounce high enough?
|16.1||time on ice per game|
|50.6||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage|
|48.5||5-on-5 expected goal percentage|
|50.0||5-on-5 goal percentage|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows lots of information for the player over the season. A short description of each chart:
About this visualization: At three times during the season, RMNB shared an open survey with fans, asking the following question for each player:
On a scale from 1 to 5, how HAPPY are you to have this player on the team?
1 means VERY UNHAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
2 means UNHAPPY
3 means NEITHER HAPPY NOR UNHAPPY
4 means HAPPY
5 means VERY HAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
The numbers above show the average score for the player in each survey period.
Lars Eller recovered from a brutal, injury-plagued 2021 season, but it remains unclear how much of his ability to drive play remains. For a long time, Eller brought play-driving competence to the team’s third line. With him and the Dowd-Hathaway pairing keeping the team basically out of trouble in the bottom six, Eller empowered the top six to break open games.
That was the way it used to go, at least. Now, I don’t know.
The blue line below represents Washington’s shot-attempt percentage when Eller is on the ice. The gray line is when he’s on the bench. Being above 50% is good, but even more so, having the blue line above the dotted gray line indicates that Eller improves the team’s overall play.
In 2022, blue and gray collide, as Eller’s shifts are basically at homeostasis. It was a draw in goals too: Washington scored 40, and opponents scored 40.
That’s a disappointing downturn, but maybe we shouldn’t be surprised for a player who just turned 33 and who suffered three significant injuries in the last eighteen months. Depreciation is a part of the player lifecycle, and barring the unexpected, the final year of his $3.5 annual contract will be another step in that pattern.
It doesn’t have to be though. For the record, Evolving Hockey’s goals-above-replacement metric thought a lot of Eller’s offense last season, which seems to align with the eye test: his emerging trouble seems to be in backchecking and play without the puck. That defensive play used to be Eller’s bread and butter. Maybe a summer of rest and rehabilitation will bring it back.
Would you be interested in extending Eller after next season? If not, who could fill the 3C role once he’s gone?
Read more: Japers Rink
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