Ex-Kings Usage; How are former Kings doing on their new teams?
Answer: not bad.
I thought it might be interesting to pull together a group of Kings that have been shed from the roster in recent years and look at how they are being used by their new teams. To do this I pulled together some key numbers from this season and created a usage chart.
First, a quick explanation about what this chart is and how it works. Player usage charts are the brainchild of hockey analyst, Rob Vollman. Basically, the chart is an attempt to see how a player is being used and how they have impacted team puck possession.
The main things to note are the circles. Blue circles represent players with a positive impact on puck possession relative to their teammates-- aka Corsi Rel. White circles represent negative Corsi Rel. The bigger the circle the greater the impact whether it be positive or negative.
The horizontal (X) axis indicates how often a player starts a shift in the offensive zone as compared to the defensive zone, aka Off. Zone %. The further a player is to the right, the more he is being used either offensively or in a sheltered capacity (i.e. you don't want players you don't trust defensively starting more of their shifts in the defensive end). I've drawn a vertical line at the 50% mark. Players to the right of this line start more shifts in the offensive end as compared to the defensive end.
The vertical (Y) axis uses Quality of Competition (aka Corsi Rel QoC). This stat assesses the average possession numbers of a player's opponents. Using it, you can get a pretty good idea about which players a coach is sending out against the opponents' best lines. The higher the number, the harder the competition.
OK, now for the chart:
- The former Kings with the hardest jobs so far this season have been Ryan Smyth, Teddy Purcell and Brian Boyle. Smyth's possession numbers have suffered as a result of playing against strong competition while starting a lot of shifts in the defensive end. Purcell is still playing on a line with Steven Stamkos which give his numbers an obvious boost, but he's also playing against tougher opponents than anyone else on this chart.
- Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds comprise two-thirds of the Flyers 2nd line. Schenn has performed well against tough competition. Also, both have out-produced Mike Richards in point totals so far this season.
- It stings to note Andrei Loktionov's huge blue circle right smack dab in the middle of the chart. He has 7 points in 13 games centering New Jersey's top line with Ilya Kovalchuk. He is currently day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. On the other hand, Peter Harrold is not doing so hot for the Devils in spite of relatively soft minutes.
- Matt Moulson and Thomas Hickey are thriving with the Islanders. They are getting mainly offensive minutes and making the most of them. Thomas Hickey leads the team in possession numbers relative to the rest of his teammates. Moulson is again on pace for a 30+ goal season (projected over a full 82 game schedule).
- Simon Gagne's numbers are a little misleading because they also include his time with the Kings. In his 8 games with the Flyers, he's helped them win the possession battle while winging Sean Couturier. Couturier is used mainly in a defensive capacity (36.8% ozone, 1.2 QoC), so as long as Gagne is playing alongside him we can assume that he's being tasked with a tougher job.
- Rich Clune and Kevin Westgarth are getting buttery soft minutes. Clune's numbers are positive while Westgarth is having a very negative affect on his team's possession and taking a lot of penalties.
- I left Jack Johnson off the chart. He gets such harder minutes than all of these guys that he throws the whole thing out of whack. He is notorious for his poor possession numbers and that hasn't changed in Columbus.
Most of these castoffs have moved on and performed well. While it's easy to moan about what could have been had they found a way to keep a few of these guys, what is really notable here is just how deep the organization has been under Dean Lombardi. Not only has he put together an elite, Stanley Cup winning squad here in L.A., but several of the players he's parted ways with would form a very solid core for another team.