The most intriguing roster battle at Toronto Maple Leafs’ training camp, in my view, will be for the second-line right winger spot. David Clarkson was added last offseason on a big money contract in hopes of being able to fill that spot, but after struggling mightily offensively, that plan was quickly forgotten. Mason Raymond, another 2013 offseason signee (although for about $35.75-million less than Clarkson), was the most common right winger (according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com) on that line with Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul, and ended up with a respectable 19 goals and 45 points. Raymond signed with the Calgary Flames on July 1.
Given the past failures of Clarkson and the recent departure of Raymond, that spot is once again open for business. General manager Dave Nonis has been busy signing some decent veteran forwards to cheap-money contracts, but none of them is a clear-cut choice to plug into the Leafs’ second line. To try and figure out who that player should be, let’s take a look at which player fits under a variety of categories:
NOTE: Leo Komarov and Petri Kontiola were excluded from this analysis because they don’t have the track record of NHL experience that the rest of these guys do. All stats below are taken from the last three seasons of NHL play.
David Booth: Left Wing
Daniel Winnik: Centre/Left Wing
Mike Santorelli: Centre
Matt Frattin: Right Wing
David Clarkson: Right Wing
Before we go any further, it’s not a bad idea to see which position(s) these guys are used to playing. I don’t think it’s a huge deal if a player who’s used to playing on the left plays on the right, but there’s no denying some players prefer one side over the other. Under this evaluation, there are two clear winners.
EDGE: Frattin, Clarkson
Scoring (via stats.hockeyanalysis.com)
Goals per 60 minutes
Points per 60 minutes
Three most common linemates
|David Booth||0.681||1.294||Ryan Kesler, Zack Kassian, Brad Richardson|
|Daniel Winnik||0.354||1.373||Andrew Cogliano, Saku Koivu, Ryan O'Reilly|
|Mike Santorelli||0.576||1.186||Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler, Shawn Matthias|
|Matt Frattin||0.612||1.264||Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Nazem Kadri|
|David Clarkson||0.726||1.186||Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac|
Winnik is the clear winner scoring-wise, but he had the luxury of playing most of his minutes with the same linemates in Andrew Cogliano and Saku Koivu, two very good players to boot. Booth finished second in scoring, and his most common linemate was Ryan Kesler, but he also played a lot of minutes with Zack Kassian and Brad Richardson. There are some sample size issues with Frattin, as he’s played less minutes than the other guys, and those three common linemates are very good. But Frattin gets another point in his favour because he’s actually played with Kadri before.
EDGE: Winnik, Booth
Advanced Stats (via Extra Skater)
First, a short glossary of terms:
CF% = Corsi For Percentage. The percentage of total shot attempts Player X’s team had while he was on the ice.
GF% = Goals For Percentage. The percentage of total goals Player X’s team had while he was on the ice.
PDO = Player X’s on-ice shooting percentage + Player X’s on-ice save percentage. 100 is considered average while anything above is considered lucky while anything below is considered unlucky.
ZS% = Zone Start Percentage. Percentage of shifts Player X started in the offensive zone.
QoC = Quality of Competition. The higher the number, the tougher the competition Player X played against as measured by time on ice.
QoT = Quality of Teammates.
Booth is a possession beast, but also had the benefit of playing with the best teammates. He was pretty unlucky when it came to PDO, which should partially explain the low GF%. Santorelli had similar issues, although he too is pretty good at tilting the ice in his team’s favour. I think overall, the nod goes to Winnik, although Clarkson’s stats are pretty comparable.
Age (via Hockey Reference)
None of these players could be classified as spring chickens, but Frattin might be closest to what you would call a summer chicken, while the rest are more autumn chickens. (Am I doing this right?) Anyway, Frattin has the most room to grow with only 126 games under his belt. If we’re looking at candidates for most improved player, Frattin would certainly be one of them.
This might be my inner Leafs fan boy speaking, but I would give returning Leaf Matt Frattin a shot at the second-line right wing spot. He’s a natural right winger, he has experience and past success on Kadri’s wing and I see the rest of this group filling in bottom-six spots. The good news here is if Frattin doesn’t perform well, head coach Randy Carlyle will have no shortage of alternate options to go with. Here’s how I would set up the Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward depth chart:
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – Matt Frattin
David Booth – Mike Santorelli – Daniel Winnik
Leo Komarov – Petri Kontiola – David Clarkson
What say you, dear reader?