USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS
Northeastern and Boston University squared off in the Beanpot final Monday night and Ducks prospect – and Hobey Baker nominee – Kevin Roy as well as future star Jack Eichel were among those featured in the contest, so I decided to track the game.
As usual, I only tracked four players because it can be hard to follow if the number gets too big. On top of Roy, I tracked the numbers for Bruins defense prospect Matt Grzelcyk, as well as draft eligible forwards Jack Eichel and A.J. Greer.
Kevin Roy is clearly Northeastern’s best offensive player, and has averaged well over a point per game in each of the last three seasons, so it should come as no surprise that he was spoon fed offensive zone starts. Roy actually started six or seven of his first eight shifts in the offensive zone, but BU started to take over as the game went on so Northeastern resorted to giving him more NZ and DZ starts to ensure they could get their star player on the ice.
Grzelcyk started almost 10 shifts outside of the offensive zone before he was finally given an OZ start. He’s BU’s best defenseman, but because of his high-end skating and puck-moving abilities he had to do the heavy lifting. As Boston took over the game – particularly in the 2nd period – he started seeing more shifts in the offensive zone.
Eichel started three of his first four in the defensive zone, but it was clear BU wanted him in situations where he could attack and put his high-end offensive abilities to use. We saw that more and more as the game went on.
As for Greer, he didn’t play a lot – especially in the 3rd period – and most of his shifts started in live play.
Roy didn’t start a ton of shifts outside the offensive zone, but he had no trouble getting back in there when that was the case. He’s a very skilled player and is very quick, which forced BU’s defense to back off and respect his speed. That shows in the results.
It really is sad that this is Jack Eichel’s draft year, because most years he’d be the clear cut No. 1, and he showed why in this game. He was absolutely dominant through the neutral zone, and couldn’t really be stopped. His skating ability is elite, which forced the D to back off, and when they didn’t he just blew right by them or powered through any checking attempt, anyways. That was one of the best neutral zone performances I’ve seen.
Greer didn’t play much so he was a non factor, and Grzelcyk is a defenseman so naturally his attempts were minimal or, in this case, non-existent.
Roy had a nice chunk of offensive zone starts + was very good through the neutral zone and his possession numbers reflected that.
Grzelcyk is a stud and because of his skating/puck skills he was effective regardless of how he was used. If he started in the OZ, it generally led to a couple shot attempts. If he started in the NZ or DZ, he usually drove play up ice. This while regularly squaring off against Northeastern’s top two lines.
Eichel was absolutely dominant, which is very impressive considering he’s playing against a lot of guys who are several years older. The scary part about these numbers is he had some shifts in the 3rd defending the lead where he and his linemates were presumably instructed to dump pucks in, and they threw it in the corners/cycled down low without trying to generate any offense. There were several occasions shot attempts could have been taken but were passed up to throw it in a corner and change.
Lastly, we have Greer. To me he was slow with the puck, and looked overwhelmed regardless of who he was on the ice against. He spent a lot of his time chasing play in his own zone.
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