Mar 142013
 

Mikhail Grabovski is starting to get a little heat in Toronto. The other night against Winnipeg he benched for a good chunk of the game and people are starting to question what is wrong with Grabovski this season. Truth is, there is probably nothing wrong with Grabovski except for his line mate Jay McClement.

When one looks at Grabovski’s stats this season you will actually see that his 5v5 Goals/60 is actually up this year to 0.946 goals per 60 minutes of play from 0.895 last year and 0.924 the year before so his 5v5 goal production is certainly there. It is his assist totals that are down dramatically. The problem is his most frequent line mates are Nikolai Kulemin, Jay McClement and Leo Komarov, none of which are dynamic offensive players. McClement has never scored more than 12 goals in any season in his career and Kulemen had a 30 goal season in 2010-11 but never more than 16 otherwise and has just 9 goals in his last 97 games and Komarov is a rookie not known for his offensive ability. You can’t expect Grabovski, who probably isn’t a dynamic playmaking center to start with, to rack up a lot of assists with a pair of third line players on his wing.

On top of that, Jay McClement is actually a pretty bad hockey player. When the Leafs signed McClement in the summer I questioned the signing because he had terrible numbers in Colorado the previous 2 seasons.  In fact, over the past 2 seasons in Colorado and St. Louis he was 4th last in the league in 5v5 ZS Adjusted goals against per 20 minutes (sadly ahead of only Kessel, Bozak and Lupul). He also ranked 230th of 258 in terms of fenwick % over those 2 years. This season he is last on the Leafs in zone start adjusted fenwick % at a terrible 41.1%.

On top of McClement being pretty bad, the player McClement replaced on that line, Clarke MacArthur, is pretty good. MacArthur has the best fenwick % on the Leafs this season and in the 58:11 of 5v5 ice time he and Grabovski played together this year they had a corsi % of 57.1% while Graobovski has been at 41.7% when separated from MacArthur. Last season when Grabovski and MacArthur played together they were at 56.0% and when Grabovski was without MacArthur he was at 50.9%. In 2010-11 Grabovski’s corsi% was 55.3% with MacArthur and 47.0% without.

In summary, there is nothing wrong with Grabovski. It is the coach that took a good player who had very good ‘chemistry’ with Grabovski off Grabovski’s line replacing him with at best a mediocre 3rd liner to go with the other 3rd liner on his other wing. Maybe when Lupul comes back Carlyle will be forced to put a real top 6 winger on the Grabovski line and then people will stop asking “What is wrong with Grabovski?” but until then, blame Jay McClement (with a primary assist to Randy Carlyle).

 

Mar 122013
 

Yesterday I posted an article on comparable players to Tyler Bozak so today I thought I’d tackle the Maple Leafs other key free agent forward, Clarke MacArthur. As with Bozak, I first looked at the offensive stats Goals/60, FirstAssists/60, Primary Points/60 and Primary Points % (percentage of goals scored while on the ice that the player had a goal or a first assist on). Here is a list of offensively comparable wingers:

Player Name G/60 FirstA/60 PPts/60 PPts%
TLUSTY, JIRI 1.094 0.501 1.595 53.01%
PERRON, DAVID 0.991 0.521 1.512 55.75%
MACARTHUR, CLARKE 0.979 0.513 1.492 55.20%
SYKORA, PETR 0.916 0.593 1.509 56.01%
MOULSON, MATT 0.898 0.647 1.545 54.44%
SIMMONDS, WAYNE 0.891 0.563 1.454 59.61%
PARISE, ZACH 0.875 0.533 1.408 58.74%
OKPOSO, KYLE 0.867 0.591 1.458 59.71%
MALONE, RYAN 0.844 0.619 1.463 53.06%
MCGINN, JAMIE 0.796 0.703 1.499 57.10%
PARENTEAU, PIERRE 0.659 0.931 1.59 59.42%

The above list was selected for similar PPts/60 and PPts% to MacArthur and then sorted by G/60 and identifies the most comparable offensive players to MacArthur. McGinn and Parenteau are not the goal scorers of MacArthur and the others so probably deserve to be dropped from the list.

As an aside, it is quite hilarious to think that the Minnesota Wild have committed nearly $100M over 13 years to Parise when Parise’s best offensive comparable the past year+ is Kyle Okposo. The Wild better hope Parise gets back to his 2008-09 and 2009-10 form when he scored 83 goals and 176 points over that 2 year period or else they are spending a ton of money for a second tier winger.

So, what about defensively? In the Bozak article, to evaluate players defensively I looked at their corsi against per 20 minutes relative to their teammates corsi against per 20 minutes and suggested any players that improved their teammates corsi against is probably a decent defensive player. Here is how that comparison looked for MacArthur.

Player Name CA20 TMCA20 CA20/TMCA20
MACARTHUR, CLARKE 18.634 19.686 0.947
PARENTEAU, PIERRE 18.782 19.269 0.975
PARISE, ZACH 15.671 15.904 0.985
SYKORA, PETR 14.741 14.567 1.012
MOULSON, MATT 19.445 19.112 1.017
MCGINN, JAMIE 19.053 18.678 1.020
OKPOSO, KYLE 19.398 18.983 1.022
PERRON, DAVID 16.821 16.247 1.035
SIMMONDS, WAYNE 19.346 18.558 1.042
MALONE, RYAN 19.422 18.539 1.048
TLUSTY, JIRI 20.576 19.400 1.061

The list is sorted by CA20/TMCA20 and the lower the number the greater they improved their teammates corsi against rate. In this list, MacArthur comes out on top which is a suggestion that he is probably a good defensive player, or at minimum not a defensive liability. Since Perron, Parise and Sykora have significantly better defensive teammates it is more difficult for them to improve their teammates CA20 so I am not convinced that MacArthur is better than them, but MacArthur’s defensive numbers look good.

So, with that in mind, what is MacArthur worth? Ignoring the Zach Parise comparison, he is probably worth in the $3-4M/yr range. Matt Moulson is in the middle of a 3 year deal worth a little over $3.1M/yr. Okposo is in the second year of a 5 year RFA deal paying him $2.8M/yr. Wayne Simmonds signed a long term extension at just shy of $4M/yr. Parenteau signed as a UFA in Colorado for 4 years at $4M/yr. David Perron signed an RFA deal that pays him an average of just over $3.8M. Ryan Malone is in the middle of a contract that is paying him $4.5M/yr.

For me, I would like to see the Leafs sign MacArthur to a 4 year contract extension, preferably in the $3.5-4M/yr range. That would be a fair contract for both sides.