There’s been a lot of discussion about the Canes this year concerning our lack of talent. People saying we don’t have top line players on this team, that somehow we’re desperate so we had to play Skinner, that our guys wouldn’t crack the top six on other teams, etc, etc. So I decided to take a look at the Canes vs. the teams that made the playoffs to see how we stacked up—among forwards.
First off, in the big picture, we finished 12/30 in Goals per Game which isn’t bad and clearly indicates some talent is there. Not only that we were in the top ten and closer to 3 goals per game prior to the All Star Break when Mo changed his philosophy and tactics to a more defensive style and we went a month or more scoring at a much lower rate. That also indicates we had talent. So how did we really match up as far as scoring talent with other teams?
I choose to look at what playoff teams fielded as far as number of goal scorers in various ranges and then added in size of the team. I know it’s a one year snapshot, but without the time to look at players’ yearly averages, statistically it will still come close to this snapshot. Here’s how it looks for the playoff teams vs. the Canes:
Goals: 40+ 30+ 25+ 20+ 15+ Total Over Under
Scorers 220 185
Ducks 1 2 3 6 3 2
Bruins 1 1 2 2 6 2 2
Sabers 2 2 2 6 3 1
Wings 2 1 4 7 2 2
Kings 2 4 6 4 1
Habs 1 2 1 4 0 3
Rags 5 1 6 2 1
Flyers 2 1 4 2 9 1 5
Pens 1 3 3 7 4 3
Sharks 2 1 4 7 6 2
Ning 1 1 1 3 6 0 1
Nucks 2 1 3 6 1 0
Caps 1 1 1 3 6 4 0
Hawks 2 2 4 8 2 4
Preds 2 5 7 0 1
Yotes 1 6 7 3 3
Canes 2 1 3 6 0 3
These numbers show what most people would expect: The Flyers have the most potent offense available, followed by the Hawks and Sharks; all have more than two good scoring lines. But the data seems to show the canes fall right in the middle as far as scoring talent available. In my rough estimation, the above mentioned teams plus the Ducks and Canucks have more talent. We are about on par with the Sabers, Wings, Kings and Lightning. We have more talent than the Bruins, Habs, Rags, Pens (injuries), Caps (this year, self imposed), Preds and Yotes.
What this does show is how important Skinner was in adding talent—without him our talent level would have dropped, and the question is would a Dalpe or Boychuck if given a whole year have been able to produce at least 20 goals---Hard to say, Skinner really changed our talent level and created a true second line threat. All this is consistent with where we finished as a team, so we have the scoring talent, what’s missing?
My contention is we’re missing true role player and size. Only two teams didn’t have a Fwd bigger than 220 lbs, plus they didn’t have much scoring talent—they’re both first round outs. What it seems we are missing is the big Fwd who can score. To me this is important for a couple of reasons—mainly the ability to continue to be able to score in the dirty areas against bigger defensive teams. Having size allows the Fwd to continue to get to scoring areas and fight off bigger players—or make room for smaller players to allow your team to continue to score. This is especially true in the playoffs where the Refs are obviously letting more physical play and abuse go. The Habs countered this lack with a very good PP—that’s where their scoring came from—we’re missing that as well. So if we can’t improve our PP to take advantage of what our size can’t create, it’s harder for us to compete.
The other type of Role player we are missing is the tough, gritty, strong, hard working, face-off winning competitor. The Andrechuck, KAdams, Tuckers, Downie, Betts, Arnott, Brind’Amour (Selke Brindy)kind of player. Someone that can eat minutes, wear down another team, hold the puck, create energy, win the key face-off, spell the talent and inspire the team with their work ethic and devotion on ice. We have too many of the same kind of player. This is not a coach issue, it’s a GM issue.
Without further analysis, it also seems our real talent issues are on defense, though we did improve somewhat at the trade deadline. Going forward and over the summer, I’d like to see JR try to find a good #1 defender, count on Dalpe/Boychuck/Bowman/Samson bringing even more talent to the offense and not try to sign any other "scoring type" of forward (LaRose, Stillman, Dwyer). If JR’s going to sign any vets on offense they should be a big 220 lb banger and/or a gritty, face-off winning 100% on every shift fourth line center.