USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS
With several high-end draft eligibles – Lawson Crouse (KGN), Travis Konecny (OTT) and Dante Salituro (OTT) – squaring off in an important Eastern Conference clash on Sunday, I decided to track some numbers considering I was going to watch the game anyways.
I usually like to track two players per team – anything more than that is very time consuming and hard to keep up with – so I decided I’d throw Kingston forward, and LA Kings prospect, Spencer Watson into the mix. He’s a guy who put up huge numbers last season, but was selected towards the very end of the draft because he’s undersized.
Anyways, here are the numbers…
Kingston is a very defensive minded team (2nd last in goals for, 3rd best in goals against) and they love to ride their top guys, so it shouldn’t be surprising Crouse and Watson were given the toughest of assignments, especially considering Kingston was playing with just 15 skaters in this one.
Both Crouse and Watson are above average skaters and are capable of carrying the puck into the opposing end with possession (you’ll see those numbers below) so I can understand the heavy defensive usage. That said, ideally you get your two best forwards some more OZ starts and give them a real chance to make something happen.
As for Konecny and Salituro, it was clear Ottawa didn’t want them starting shifts in the defensive zone, at least at evens. Those are the 67’s two most prolific offensive players, and they were given favorable zone starts whenever possible. Surprisingly neither registered a point in Ottawa’s 3-0 win, but they both created some chances.
There’s nothing too crazy here. The two best forwards off both teams carried the puck safely into the offensive zone more often than not. Regardless of where you rank Crouse, he’s not without skill, so it’s not surprising that he enjoyed some success in this aspect of the game. All of these guys can skate and possess above average puck skills.
Given the lack of offensive zone starts, it was pretty impressive to see linemates Crouse and Watson drive possession at better than a 50% rate. For the most part they were matched up against Ottawa’s top-6 forwards (Konecny on L1, Salituro on L2) so it wasn’t as if they were playing soft competition. Crouse and Watson dominated possession in the 1st period, but Ottawa controlled play for the final 40, perhaps due to fatigue with Kingston having a short bench.
Konecny started slow, but was better as the game went on. He generated quite a bit of offense in the 2nd period, though in the 3rd his line seemed more concerned with eating clock in the corners than generating offense. As a result, they didn’t get many shot attempts despite spending most of their time in the offensive zone.
Salituro was decent, but considering he only started one of 16 shifts in the defensive zone you’d like to see some better numbers.
If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource.