USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS
Jack Eichel’s BU Terriers took on Yale in a very important game on Friday, where the winner would earn themselves a spot in the Northeast Regional Final.
I decided to track the game and, as you’d expect, Eichel was one of the four players I decided to watch. The other three: Boston Bruins defense prospect Matt Grzelyck (BU), draft eligible forward A.J. Greer (BU), and Blackhawks forward prospect John Hayden (Yale).
Final score: 3-2 BU in overtime.
John Hayden is one of Yale’s best forwards, but they take pride in having a well-rounded team where everyone is expected to contribute at both ends, so he didn’t get a heavy dose of either offensive or defensive zone starts.
I’m convinced Matt Grzelyck never left the ice. He played huge minutes and it didn’t really matter what the situation was. He started off with more defensive zone starts early, but as BU started to take over in the latter half of the game his offensive zone starts went up.
Jack Eichel is probably the best player in college hockey, so naturally he was given more offensive zone starts to work with. Still, BU wasn’t hesitant in giving him defensive zone starts if they wanted him on the ice. It wasn’t hard to see why.
A.J. Greer is a draft eligible freshman who is starting to play a bigger role for the team, but it’s clear they wanted him playing some sheltered minutes in a game of such importance.
Hayden wasn’t great through the neutral zone, but he did OK. He had a couple controlled entries that led to shots/chances, but also had a couple broken up when he was met at the line.
Grzelyck is a defenseman, so naturally his zone entry attempts were limited. He did have one nice rush, but otherwise there was nothing notable.
Eichel was once again dominant through the neutral zone. He has a very fluid stride and reaches top speed in a hurry, which forces the defense to back off more often than not.
Greer had a couple entry attempts, but the number was limited due to starting in the offensive zone so frequently.
Given Hayden started 10 of 14 shifts outside of the offensive zone, his possession numbers weren’t all that bad, especially when you factor in BU controlled play for most of the game.
Grzelyck was almost a 60% possession player despite starting an almost identical amount of shifts in all three zones. Impressive.
Based on his usage you’d expect Eichel to be positive in possession, but not to this extent. He was creating chances almost every shift in the offensive zone, and whenever he started outside of the OZ he showed the ability to dominate the neutral zone, and drive play up ice.
Greer was spoon fed offensive zone starts, and it showed in the numbers. Still, he did what he was supposed to do.
I’ve now tracked two BU games – the other being the Beanpot Final against Northeastern – so I combined the numbers to provide a bigger sample size.
If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!