Pilots Logbook 2013-14: Blake Wheeler

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets 2013-14 season has been laid to rest. This series will take an in-depth look how the team and its players have performed, and some decisions that could push the Jets forward in the future.

Blake Wheeler had a career year in his third wearing the the dark polar blue.

The Basics

GP G A P TOI/60 S/60 Sh% PenD
82 28 41 69 18.3 8.8 12.4 4

Numbers are for all minutes.

These numbers are good. Very good. Wheeler hit career highs in points and goals and he accomplished this without inflated shooting percentages, either personal or on-ice. Wheeler has steadily increased his 5v5 shot attempts per minute in every season since his first, and thus far there has been no signs of slowing down. This is a good sign that Jets should be seeing solid offensive numbers from Wheeler for a while.

Usage

Screen_shot_2014-06-04_at_4.09.02_am_medium

Player usage chart from extraskater.com.

EV Percentage of Team's Available TOI 5 on 5
ZS% ZS%rel EVTOI% PPTOI% SHTOI% QoC TOI% QoT TOI%
54.8% +5.2% 29.8% 50.4% 15.0% 29.3% 31.4%
5th 4th 2nd 3rd 8th 3rd 3rd

Rankings are given for team out of 15 forwards to play 20 or more games.

Wheeler gained a solid offensive zone push, which is what you want from your most offensively gifted player. Only Evander Kane surpassed Wheeler in even strength minutes and Wheeler also played on the top power play unit. Wheeler was given some penalty kill time and he has been pretty solid at it historically.

Underlying Numbers

Wheelcorsi_medium

The y-axis is given to show the typical 40-60 sustainable spread seen for NHL calibre players. Players are compared to particular line/pair depending on 5v5 TOI per game. Population mean (average), median (50th percentile), and other percentiles are relative to player performance between 2007-12.

5v5 TOI Corsi% relCorsi% dCF/20 dCA/20 dCorsi%
14.48 49.9% -0.2% +0.520 +1.022 -0.710%

RelCorsi is team team's percentage of shot attempts with player on ice minus shot attempts with player off ice. Delta Corsi values are team's shot attempt rates with player on ice, but relative to league norm given similar usage (quality of teammates, quality opponents, zone starts, and TOI). dCF/20 is shot attempts for -where a positive number is above average-, dCA/20 is shot attempts against -where a negative number is above average-, and dCorsi% is percentage of shot attempts.

All players are not good at all things. There is no doubt that Wheeler is the Jets best offensive player when it comes to scoring points; however, Wheeler has never been an elite player at out possessing his opponents like that of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little or Michael Frolik. The dCorsi numbers indicate Wheeler increases shot volume, but also struggles in repressing shots against. That doesn't diminish what he does. Possession only counts for so much unless you have players who can put the puck in the net.

Conclusion

Some people act as if number crunchers view Corsi as everything and all thing, but this is not true. These particular type of players can be useful. They can turn a possession line into a scoring line if you put them with good two-way players (like the famous LLW line) or score in bundles with other like-minded players given large offensive one starts.

Keep or lose?

Keep duh. Ladd, Little, Wheeler, Frolik, Kane... These are five excellent pieces that can be the core of a deep top nine. The issues are the Jets have struggled in creating depth beyond these players as support. If Wheeler is to be separated from Ladd and Little and still be effective, it would be best if the Jets could form a solid possession third line so that Wheeler's line (likely with Mark Scheifele and one of Dustin Byfuglien or Evander Kane) can get the Sedin twins treatment with a huge offensive zone push.

Bonus: Wheeler's evolution into a shooter

Season(s) iCorsi/60 Increase
2008-09 12.884
2009-10 13.470 0.586
2010-11 14.026 0.556
2011-12 14.524 0.498
2012-13 15.007 0.483
2013-14 15.593 0.586

That looks like a very linear climb. Quite interesting. Wheeler may be evolving himself into a consistent goalscorer at this rate... although he is a large distance away still from the 22-25 shot attempts per 60 minutes level of Evander Kane.

All numbers are from Extra Skater, Behind the Net and Hockey Analysis

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