Frozen Pool Forensics: Bounce Back Candidates, Part Three

by Cam Robinson on August 19, 2016

This week's Frozen Pool Forensics Takes Its Final Look At Bounce Back Candidates.

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After some popular demand we’re back for one final installment of Frozen Pool Forensics’ Bounce Back Candidates. This week, we’ll take a look at a handful of players due for a return to former glory or perhaps take a step back in the right direction after a stumble or stagnating season.

 

Instead of discussing why they may not rebound, we’ll look closer at why they should. You can just consider the opposite of why they will bounce back as your explanation of why they may not. Got it? Good.

 

First up…

 

Eric Staal

 

Average point-per-game output the last three seasons: 0.65

 

The former second overall pick from arguably the greatest draft class of all-time has fallen on hard times. As one of the very few players to record a 100-point season in recent memory, Staal has seen his point-per-game output drop in each of the last three seasons, culminating with 13 goals and just 39 points in 83, that’s right, 83, games during the 2015-16 season. 

 

What Went Wrong in 2015-16?

 

Staal was tasked with trying to prop up a forward group that lacked much punch. At age 31, he was also shuffled around the lineup for the first time in his career, spending a good deal of time on the wing, which was foreign and obviously not a great fit for the natural power center.

 

His 2.4 shots per game were over half a shot less than he’s been accustomed to, and his conversion rate took a big dip as well. Over the previous three seasons (2012-2015), Staal scored on 10.1 percent of his shots, last season he converted on just 6.5 percent.

 

Carolina’s 24th ranked power play didn’t help matters either, as Staal recorded a career-low seven points with the man-advantage.

 

 

NHL Stats – Last 5 Years

SEASON

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

+/-

PIM

Shots

SH%

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

FOW

FO%

PPTOI

%PP

%SH

TOI/G

%TOI

2015-2016

83

13

26

39

0.47

-2

34

199

6.5

74

1

7

0

33

446

53.0

02:35

51.7

7.7

18:33

30.6

2014-2015

77

23

31

54

0.70

-13

41

244

9.4

65

7

17

0

27

343

51.3

02:36

52.9

2.7

18:51

31.0

2013-2014

79

21

40

61

0.77

-13

74

230

9.1

67

1

12

2

28

754

52.7

03:20

59.6

18.3

20:17

33.4

2012-2013

48

18

35

53

1.10

7

54

152

11.8

35

3

9

1

24

527

52.0

03:33

63.2

23.4

21:00

34.8

2011-2012

82

24

46

70

0.85

-20

48

262

9.2

48

7

23

3

35

882

52.5

03:38

62.4

29.9

21:33

35.4

Average

82

22

40

62

0.75

-9

56

242

9.1

64

4

15

1

33

656

52.4

03:07

57.8

16.8

19:58

32.9

 

 

 

Why He’ll Bounce Back

 

A new team, a new coach, and a new lease on life.

 

The eldest of the Staal brothers left the only franchise he’s ever known and moved to the hockey hot-bed of Minnesota by signing a three-year pact worth just 3.5 million annually.  There he will be joining new bench boss, Bruce Boudreau who brings a notoriously offensive-minded scheme to his teams.

 

When asked about Staal on a radio hit earlier this month, Boudreau was quick to explain why he believes the soon-to-be 32-year-old will be successful. He will be given an opportunity to centre the team’s top line next to Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle, and feels the new environment should excite, and energize the former NHL All-Star.

 

Seeing ample time with the man-advantage next to Parise and witnessing his shot rates and conversion percentages return to even his post-peak averages will go a long way in seeing Staal record 60 or more points for the ninth time in his career.

 

 

Clarke MacArthur

 

 

Average point-per-game output the last three seasons: 0.61 (Stats taken from 2012-13 to 2014-15 seasons.)

 

MacArthur has always been a bit of a forgotten entity. Another member of that illustrious 2003 draft class, the former Sabres’ third round pick has bounce around a bit in his career. He always seems at home as a complimentary winger in a team’s top-six. There, he uses his mix of skill and fantastic two-way play to produce at both ends of the rink. However, health has become a very concerning issue with the 31-year-old

 

 

What Went Wrong in 2015-16?

 

I guess this should be titled What Went Right? MacArthur missed all but four contests last season when attempting to play through a concussion suffered during the preseason, a mere bump from Blue Jacket’s Brandon Saad produced another, and brought forth long-term mental effects.

 

MacArthur has been cleared by the medical staff and has been training hard to return this fall and once again stabilize the Senators top-six. The true indicator of his success will first be measured in games played. Can MacArthur shake the rust of an entire year off and return to the high-level of stress that NHL hockey puts on the body and mind, and keep his post-concussion symptoms away?

 

Advanced Stats

Year

PDO

5 on 5 SH%

Off. Zone Start %

2015-16

941

5.88

56.52

2014-15

1011

8.44

48.86

2013-14

1022

8.57

49.1

2012-13

1021

9.69

45.7

2011-12

1019

9.52

53.11

2010-11

1020

9.44

48.22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why He’ll Bounce Back

 

Since coming to Ottawa in 2013, the Saskatchewan native has scored 40 goals and 92 points in 141 games. He takes about two shots per contest and has converted on 13.3 percent of those shots over the past five seasons. His Individual Points Percentage (IPP) of 70-percent while a Senator is representative of his value to his line mates while on the ice, and puts him squarely among the NHL’s top 150 forwards in that regard.

 

MacArthur is going to be lining up next to either Kyle Turris or newly acquired, Derick Brassard with Bobby Ryan flanking the right side. Ottawa may have some holes in their lineup but their top six forward group is full of scoring potential and with Erik Karlsson on the ice for 30 minutes a night, there will be enough points to go around.

 

As far as value goes, you likely won’t a find a better option than MacArthur. His ADP will likely be microscopically-low after the missed season and if he can stay healthy and get up to speed quickly, a return to the 50-point range is quite attainable. With a cap hit of 4.65 million for the next four seasons, the Senators will surely give him every opportunity to get back into a scoring role.

 

 

Ryan Strome

 

Average point-per-game output the last three seasons: 0.5

 

Taken fifth overall in 2011, The Islanders have taken their time with Strome. He was sent back to junior for his full four seasons, spent a year ripping up the AHL to the tune of 49 points in 37 games back in 2013-14 before finally posting 50 points in 81 games for New York in 2014-15. Expected to take the next step offensively, unfortunately, 2015-16 was a big step back for the talented forward.

 

What Went Wrong in 2015-16?

 

After struggling to earn the trust of coach Jack Capuano early on, questions around his defensive responsibility and work ethic swirled. The result was a surprise re-assignment back to Bridgeport for a couple weeks as the organization hoped the demotion would act as a wake-up call.

 

Strome managed just 23 points in 59 games upon being recalled in late November, but saw limited action, receiving 15:39 minutes on average and just 1:28 with the man advantage – about 40 seconds fewer than the year previous.

 

His shooting percentage dipped by three percent, as did his shots per game. Despite seeing far more starts in the offensive zone, his five-on-five shooting percentage dropped down to under eight percent from a high of 10.34 in 2014-15.

 

Strome ended up being a healthy scratch in three of his team’s 11 playoff contests, but did mange four points, all at even strength while seeing just 13:49 per contest.

 

Why He’ll Bounce Back

 

The Islanders cleaned house a bit this offseason, letting Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen walk away as unrestricted free agents. Those holes in the top-six will offer a new found opportunity for Strome. It is expected that newly-signed Andrew Ladd and P.A. Parenteau will get the first opportunities to flank franchise centre, John Tavares, but Strome could easily find himself on

Tavares’ right side at some point in 2016-17 as he was his most common line mate last season.

Freq

Line Combination

28.6%

GRABOVSKI,MIKHAIL – STROME,RYAN – TAVARES,JOHN

19.1%

BAILEY,JOSH – STROME,RYAN – TAVARES,JOHN

18.6%

LEE,ANDERS – STROME,RYAN – TAVARES,JOHN

17.1%

GRABOVSKI,MIKHAIL – KULEMIN,NIKOLAY – STROME,RYAN

16.6%

NELSON,BROCK – STROME,RYAN – TAVARES,JOHN

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other opportunity will be for Strome to center the second line. In order to hold that spot, he’ll have to improve on his career face off winning percentage of 44.8.

 

As mentioned by Michael Clifford in a Ramblings about a week ago, there is an opening on that top power play unit as well, and the sublime distribution skills of Strome could be a nice boon coming from the off-side half wall.

 

Things could go very right for the fourth year pro, and he could end up back in the 50-point area. However, if he cannot earn the trust of his coaching staff, his opportunities will become limited and his end result may be similar to that of 2015-16.

 

There is still plenty of skill and potential in the recently-turned 23-year-old, but of all the players discussed thus far, a bounce-back for him is truly needed.

 

 

Steve Mason

 

Average save percentage the last three seasons: 0.921

 

Here is a goaltender who knows all about peaks and valleys. Drafted in the third round back in 2006 while playing as the back up for the London Knights, Mason burst onto the NHL scene, starting 61 games, winning 33 of them and recording 10 shutouts en route to being named Rookie of the Year as a 20-year-old. Fast forward eight seasons and Mason has swapped teams, produced a top three save percentage finish and lost his starting gig to Michal Neuvirth.

 

NHL Stats – Last 5 Years

SEASON

GP

Win

L

OTL

SO

GA

SHA

GAA

SV%

2015-2016

54

23

19

10

4

132

1602

2.51

0.918

2014-2015

51

18

17

11

3

107

1485

2.23

0.928

2013-2014

61

33

18

7

4

145

1751

2.50

0.917

2012-2013

20

7

8

1

0

47

561

2.59

0.916

2011-2012

46

16

26

3

1

143

1355

3.39

0.894

Average

46

19

18

6

2

115

1351

2.62

0.915

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Went Wrong in 2015-16?

 

Consistency. The Flyers’ goal keeper just could not put together a solid roll of games in 2015-16. His final save percentage of .918 was respectable, but a significant drop from the .928 he posted the season before. He was also diagnosed with a case of the “soft goal syndrome,” giving up inopportune goals that he and his team mates would surely like back. None more back breaking than the 100-footer he gave up in game two of the Capitals-Flyers first round matchup.

 

Mason ended up losing his crease for long stretches of time last season, eventually ceding the net the end the Flyers’ playoff hopes after posting a 0-3 record with a 4.09 goals against average and 0.852 save percentage.

 

 

Why He’ll Bounce Back

 

Well for one thing, his bank account will be a motivator. Mason is heading into the final year of his contract. He’ll earn 4.1 million next season and at just 28 years of age, will be a very sought after commodity if he can find a consistent performance throughout the entirety of the season.

 

Another factor trending in his direction is that Philadelphia appears to be building the right way. Their defense, which allowed 2.56 goals/game still has some blemishes, but top prospect, Ivan Provorov is coming to camp ready to start his NHL-career, and the pipeline has a wealth of other talented defensemen. On top of that, the Flyers should be back in a position to fight for a playoff spot and will offer a solid amount of run support for the Oakville, Ontario native.

 

 

Bounce-Back Candidates: Part One

 

Bounce-Back Candidates: Part Two

 

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Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I’ve suddenly become an expert in obscure Summer Olympic sports.