Sadly, the NHL playoffs are starting tomorrow and we here at Arctic Ice are writing postmortems for the Winnipeg Jets instead of previewing their first-round match-ups. Today I present to you my player grades for the forwards, which are based upon their full season statistics, both basic and advanced.
Earlier this season, I put together the first quarter grades right here and the half-point grades right here. Using both the basic stats of NHL.com and the advanced stats found at BehindTheNet, I've compiled the following charts from which to assign a grade.
To those not familiar with the advanced stats that I'm using, here are brief descriptions about what the numbers represent (hat tip to behindthenet.ca):
- TOI/60: Time on Ice per 60 minutes.
- CorsiQoC: Average Corsi of opposing players, weighted by head-to-head ice time. The higher the number, the tougher the competition the player faced.
- CorsiOn: On-Ice Shot Differential (goals + saves + missed shots + blocks). This is expressed as a rate stat per 60 minutes. A positive number means that more shots were directed at the opponents net than on their own while that player is one the ice.
- OZS%: Offensive Zone Start % = Offensive Zone Starts / (Offensive Zone Starts + Defensive Zone Starts). Records where a player started his shift.
- PDO: PDO is the sum of "On-Ice Shooting Percentage" and "On-Ice Save Percentage" while a player was on the ice. It regresses very heavily to the mean in the long-run: a team or player well above 1000 has generally played in good luck and should expect to drop going forward and vice-versa.
It wasn't exactly a wonderful season for Antro, but to be honest he did a pretty good job all things considered. He never found a permanent home on any line, only saw power-play sparingly, but was given the toughest minutes among the forwards and still turned in a +6. As a UFA, I'd have no issue with him returning to be a 3rd-liner at a much more reasonable rate. But I fear his top-6 days are over, and perhaps his days as a Jet are too. Grade: B-
Hmm... I find it tough to grade Burmi because I'm not sure he was given a chance to succeed. He also bounced around the lineup (and pressbox) until finding a home with Tangradi and Santorelli late in the season. While he has left many in this city wanting more due to his talent, I'm not sure how he's supposed to produce with linemates that are... um... not very talented. He still managed to turn in a positive Corsi, which is pretty impressive considering he spent time with Chris Thorburn on the 4th line. And perhaps the most impressive thing Burmi did all season was give Thor positive possession numbers during that time. That is no small feat. Grade: C+
Aaron Gagnon did a very nice job in his call up, adding three important goals late in the season during the fight for the playoffs. He also did a nice job considering his OZS% was so low, but he wasn't exactly going up against tough competition (-2.103 is incredibly easy). Despite the small sample size of his season, he may have done enough to earn himself another contract. Somewhere. Grade: C+
Olli has been a bit of a punching bag in Winnipeg this season, and most of it has been well deserved. His offensive production (or lack thereof) despite being given prime space alongside Kane for pretty much all of the season was extremely disappointing. However, I do think his -19 +/- is kind of a tough number to blame him completely for, as the save percentage of his goalies while he was on the ice was 0.881 (the 939 PDO clearly shows this). Compare that to the 0.946 that Antro had and perhaps you can see why there was a differential of 25. Still, Jokinen had a very poor season and will need to be better next year if he wishes to improve his reputation in this city. Grade: D
Evander Kane was a one-man show all season, producing at an impressive clip with virtually no help from his linemates. His penalty-minutes are a bit concerning, as his reputation around the league appears to be not very good, but at least it looked like he cared all season. All in all, a pretty good season for a guy who was all on his own. Grade: A-
Unreal. Andrew Ladd has stepped into the upper-echelon of NHL wingers, finishing in the top-20 of league scoring while having the second-highest CorsiQoC on his team and turning in impressive Corsi numbers. Ladd was by far the best player on the team and the hands down MVP, and though his PDO ran a little high suggesting that he was playing a little above his head, his ability to produce against toughs is impossible to argue. Grade: A+
Bryan Little was a key component of Ladd's Little Wheeler (LLW) that established itself this season as an official #1 line. While Little didn't have the same offensive output as his wingers, he was given the extra responsibility of taking defensive zone faceoffs when Slater was lost to injury, as you can see in his OZS%. While I still question his ability to be a true #1 center, especially next season with the move to the Western Conference, he showed me more this year than I was expecting. Grade: A-
I don't have many nice things to say about Mittens, as he had a miserable season when he came back from injury. However, I suppose it's not his fault that due to #Noelogic he spent most of his time on the 2nd line opposite of Kane, which was clearly not the place for him to be. Bad offensive output and horrible possession numbers despite a getting a decent percentage of starts in the offensive zone will likely spell the end of his tenure as a Jet. Grade: D
It's really tough to give Peluso a grade this year, as he only got into five games before his busted hand cost him the rest of his season. He did provide a glimpse of ability and major toughness, and I wonder if he has found a home here in Winnipeg as the resident tough guy. Still, his 5 games make it too tough to assign a grade. Grade: Incomplete
Santorelli joined the Jets as a waiver-claim (yes, I know, how weird...) at the trade deadline, and seemed to find some chemistry with Burmistrov and Tangradi on the 3rd line. And though they looked impressive, the line didn't produce much offense as Santorelli added just a single assist in his 10 games as a Jet. Perhaps the most impressive is that he turned in a positive CorsiOn despite playing 24 games with the Panthers, and his low PDO of 942 likely explains his -12. For a waiver claim, he did just fine. Grade: C+
Jim Slater broke his hand blocking a shot on the penalty kill and never returned to the lineup. His abilities are limited offensively, but he is the main guy to take defensive zone face offs as he started 70.3% of his shifts in his own end. That is likely why his CorsiOn was so low. Was he missed? I think so, though I'm not sure how much his presence would have changed things down the stretch. Grade: C+
Tangradi only added four points all season despite dressing in 41 games. That's just not good enough for a guy like him, as despite his size he plays a little soft. Though he found some chemistry with Burmi and Santorelli, his offensive contributions were pretty much nil. However, if they returned as the 3rd line next season I'm not sure I'd be disappointed as they did generate a lot of chances. Tangradi did turn in a positive Corsi #'s, though it was in sheltered minutes. Grade: C-
Chris Thorburn took advantage of a brief stint with Burmi as his center, as it was in those few games where Thorburn actually out-Corsi'd the opposition. Without those games, I am quite positive that his possession numbers would look way worse. However, I will give Thorburn some credit in that he was the resident "face-puncher" when Peluso came out of the lineup, and he took a few beatings for the team. Still, I would have no issue if Thorburn was replaced with, well, almost anybody. Grade: D
#TeamWelly may be taking up a new address next season, as the unrestricted free-agent didn't have a great season. However, he was much better late in the season when he was put on the 2nd line instead of Mittens (why it took so long is beyond me) and was producing quite well until a broken hand ended his season. As poor as his boxcars look on the year, he did add 13 points in his final 24 games, and his positive Corsi #'s show that he can still play. Grade: C+
Wheeler turned a so-so start to the year into a tremendous season when LLW was put back together for good. His 19 goals led the team, and his 41 points was second only to Andrew Ladd. He was able to turn in positive possession numbers against pretty good competition, and was almost able to get out of the +/- hole that he dug himself into early on. Wheels is going to get paid this summer. Grade: A
James Wright has earned the trust of Claude Noel, but I cannot for the life of me understand why. This is a prime example of #Noelogic. James Wright produced very little offense all season, which is understandable as he was a waiver-wire pickup. But what really pisses me off is that despite having the fourth-easiest CorsiQoC among forwards (behind only Patrice Cormier, Gagnon and Thorburn), he had the lowest CorsiOn numbers of all forwards with a -11.28 (!). He is a possession nightmare, but despite these awful numbers he got the bump to the second line late in the season over more worthy players. I just don't get it. Maybe he has a photo of the coach doing something inappropriate, because these numbers shouldn't inspire "trust" for any NHL coach. Grade: D-
The forward group of the Jets had a handful of high points, but they were unfortunately counteracted by even more low points. The team that Kevin Cheveldayoff put together, using duct tape and super glue, consisted of four top-6 forwards (Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Evander Kane), a disappointing free agent signing (Olli Jokinen), frustrating usage of one of their better young players (Alex Burmistrov) and a bunch of bottom-six forwards and waiver-wire pickups. But there were some major positives from LLW, and Kane did tremendous as well.
It's incredibly difficult to assign a failing grade to any of the forwards, as though a few were disappointing they can only play alongside who their coach puts them next too. And in my opinion, Kevin Cheveldayoff didn't do a very good job of assembling talent for the forward groups, and Claude Noel did a poor job of making the proper adjustments when things weren't going well. I mean, seriously. Jokinen played alongside Kane all season when it was clear it wasn't working. If people are looking to assign failing grades, I'd be looking at the guys in suits on the bench and up in the rafters.
Do you agree with the grades? Disagree? What is your opinion on how the forwards did? Let us know in the comments section!