Boyd Gordon: Third Line Centre

Jonathan Willis
July 06 2013 09:32AM

Any questions as to what Boyd Gordon’s role with the Edmonton Oilers in 2013-14 were answered by general manager Craig MacTavish during his media availability on Friday. “He’s going to fit in very nicely into that number three [centre] hole,” MacTavish said.

Lowetide wrote about Gordon last night, and his view is certainly worth reading. My perspective is slightly different.

Five Years: Gordon

Year GP CorsiRel QcRk. ZS PTS/60
2012-13 48 0.6 6th 32.6 1.18
2011-12 75 -13.3 3rd 39.8 1.27
2010-11 60 -8.3 2nd 42.7 0.76
2009-10 36 -2.3 15th 45.1 2.24
2008-09 63 -19.4 12th 43.1 1.21

The chart above shows Boyd Gordon’s statistical performance in four statistical categories over the last five years; they’ll be familiar to regular readers but here’s a brief explanation:

  • CorsiRel. "Corsi" is shorthand for shot attempts plus/minus - all the shots, missed shots, and blocked shots that a player was on the ice for 5-on-5 over an average one-hour period. The "Rel" part stands for relative - what we're doing there is adjusting for team strength.
  • Quality of Competition rank. The player's rank among active forwards on his team in Behind the Net's Quality of Competition (we're using the Corsi-based one, though the site also offers a goal-based one and the difference between the two is small). This gives us an idea of the kind of opponents Gordon typically played against. Note: for years where he played for multiple teams, this is less helpful so I have excluded it.
  • ZoneStarts. Taking offensive zone and defensive zone faceoffs, and expressing them as a percentage. If a player was on the ice for 70 offensive zone faceoffs and 30 defensive zone faceoffs, he would have a 70% offensive zone start, and we'd expect him to do better than a player with 30 offensive zone and 70 defensive zone faceoffs (30% zone start).
  • 5-on-5 Points/60. Just like regular points, only adjusted for an average hour of ice-time.

The five-year record shows Gordon’s evolution from a pretty run of the mill depth forward to a legitimate shutdown centre. 2010-11 was his final campaign with the Washington Capitals, and the year where he saw a steep increase in the caliber of his opposition – all of a sudden he was playing guys like Briere and Hartnell and Grabovski and Kessel and Kovalchuk with regularity. Phoenix – they seem to have a knack for finding this type of player - snatched him up at a very reasonable $1.325 million price point on a two-year contract.

Gordon’s numbers really took off during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, and some of it probably had to do with the addition of David Moss – Moss has a very strong record as a possession forward when healthy, and Gordon’s numbers were notably better with Moss on his wing than when playing without him. Competent help isn’t a luxury Gordon has generally had; scrolling through a list of common linemates over the last five seasons, they are many, varied, and largely unimpressive.

Five Years: Horcoff

Year GP CorsiRel QcRk. ZS PTS/60
2012-13 31 -4.4 8th 42.1 1.34
2011-12 81 -1.0 1st 43.9 1.04
2010-11 47 7.0 1st 50.6 1.47
2009-10 77 0.6 2nd 45.3 1.37
2008-09 80 7.8 1st 40.2 1.59

Horcoff did a hard job for a long time and never really got the credit he deserved for it in Edmonton – though of course he did get a contract. He had something of a down year in 2012-13; on balance he played tougher opposition than Gordon and managed better results, but the flip side of that is he also generally played with better players (save for that ugly, ugly 2009-10 season). Dallas general manager Jim Nill is betting that Horcoff can hold this form or something close to it in Texas; if he does the Stars almost certainly have the better third-line centre. Horcoff does turn 35 in September, so it may well be that the Oilers are getting out at the right time.

My View

The Edmonton Oilers didn’t get better in adding Boyd Gordon and subtracting Shawn Horcoff. What they did manage was to move out a player who had become emblematic of the wasted post-2006 years, reduce the cap hit spent on that slot in the depth chart, and secure a younger replacement who was likely the best option on the market.

Initially, I didn’t like the deal – the dollars seemed excessive – but after looking at the minutes Gordon has played over the last five years, and who has played them with him, it doesn’t seem so bad. The dollars are less than ideal, but they aren’t that bad for a good player and a needed one.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Leafs Nation, Cam Charron has a lot of praise for David Clarkson, before getting to what worries him:

So we'll see what happens. I like Clarkson between ages 30 and 32 because he's shown a lot of improvement past the age when a player's prime usually ends, but I'm not confident that he'll age like fine wine. Eventually, he won't be a guy with an elevated shot rate that results in keeping his team above even in goals when he's on the ice, and the Leafs have probably bought multiple years of "old David Clarkson".

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

 

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 gcw_rocks
July 06 2013, 12:00PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

That's tough, off the top of my head - both guys I really like as players. I'd probably bet on Schenn scoring a little more and Couturier playing a slightly better overall game.

Factoring in injury history, who would you rather the Oilers pick up in a trade?

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#52 OilersBrass
July 06 2013, 12:03PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Lecavilier has been making 10 million per for 4 yrs already. He will be a legend when he retires. He has a solid shot to be the player who made the most money during his career as a player. Think Jagr holds the lead right now as far as career earnings go.

Lecavalier has already made more than Jagr. He's the highest paid player in NHL history with over 120,000,000.

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#53 Ron Burgundy
July 06 2013, 12:12PM
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Edsez wrote:

I'm with you that Grabovski would be a quality pick up and he's certainly worth than the $7 mil my pipe dreams are made of (few posts up)

if Grabovski signs for $4-4.5 at any term more than 1 year he actually will increase his income as a result of the buyout (Lecavalier is ahead a few mil as well).

He should be thanking the Leafs

No doubt. If I ever get that kind of a windfall I'm cashing in the chips and moving to Thailand to live like the King of Siam the rest of my days. But that's because I won't still be in the prime of my career, with the ability to make a pile more.

If I were any of these guys I wouldn't be doing straight math like you are doing, I'm saying "OK, maybe I wasn't worth my old contract, but I'm worth something close to it. Plus my old boss just signed the second-coming of Matt Stajan for stupid money yesterday and I'm better than him, so I can probably still get at least 80% of what I was making last week.

On the GM side they are probably doing similar math - this guy is worth X, but because he got a windfall he will probably take a bit of a discount. All of which for Grabo would seem to point to that $4-$4.5 number. Less would be better but I don't think that's likely. Although I was also one who said it was extremely unlikely we would get anything more than a used equipment bag for Horcoff unless we took on salary, so MacT may again surprise...

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#54 gcw_rocks
July 06 2013, 12:12PM
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If MacT could turn Gagner into Coburn and Couturier I would go from hater to fan in short order, especially if he follows with signing Grabovski.

Hall - RNH -Eberle.

Couturier - Grabovski - Yak.

MPS - Gordon - ?

Coburn - Petry

Smid- Schultz Jr

Ference - Belov

Still would need a fourth line and a third line winger but that's a playoff team.

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#55 gcw_rocks
July 06 2013, 12:22PM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

If MacT could turn Gagner into Coburn and Couturier I would go from hater to fan in short order, especially if he follows with signing Grabovski.

Hall - RNH -Eberle.

Couturier - Grabovski - Yak.

MPS - Gordon - ?

Coburn - Petry

Smid- Schultz Jr

Ference - Belov

Still would need a fourth line and a third line winger but that's a playoff team.

Or: Hall - RNH -Eberle.

Omark/Rajala - Grabovski - Yak.

MPS - Couturier -Gordon

3rd line would get the toughs and crappy zone starts. Hall line gets second toughs and Yak's line gets soft minutes.

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#56 nugeishuge14
July 06 2013, 12:57PM
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The way I think of horcoff vs gordon is horcoff in edm vs gordon, gordon is the better player but horcoff in dallas vs gordon, horcoff is the better player. Also if gordon is so good with moss why not hemsky for moss, moss is big and has scored 20 points in 12/13.

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#57 oliveoilers
July 06 2013, 01:19PM
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Happy Cat Saturday all! Just a question, what if ( a big what if) Craig said to Dallas "hey, gonna get ya a power forward today."? And Dallas replies "we already have one in MPS. Kid just needs coaching. I'm a coach. Let me give him a shot." Very long shot, but I have to believe the coach has a little input like (expletive) Carlyle.

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#58 Curcro
July 06 2013, 02:03PM
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I think the biggest thing that JWillis is forgetting the most important question is will Gordon be a better player than Horcoff in 2013-14.

While the 5 year comparison is useful. Gordon has a few up arrows on his improving play.

Horcoff has down arrows on his play.

To often the Oilers have been on the wrong end of that formula (Belanger, Khabibulin)

The Oilers are a better team today if Gordon outplays Horcoff this here. At it says here he will... you can copy and paste this to me next year (should I be wrong - which happens rarely).

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#59 Smokey
July 06 2013, 03:55PM
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I know Jones got some haters, but at least the signing is an NHL body, not some failed Finnish experiment or career 30 year old AHL vet or coaches kid. Makes me sad we missed out on Pouliot and Laperierre on bargain contracts, so I am hopeful Jones is on a 1-1.3. I think there are a couple fourth line bargains I`d take a flyer on to round out the bottom of the order. Only 3 more forward holes to fill, yippy.

I wonder what it will take to bring the Jagrmeister to Edmonton.

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#60 michael
July 06 2013, 04:45PM
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I am uncertain about how Jones will rebound this season. If he comes back with the determination that he spoke of in his comments after resigning then the signing may be a good one. He needs to bring the physicality every night. He needs to bring the truculence. The anger.If not he will toiling in the minors pretty darn fast.Hope he returns to form. If he does it will be a value signing.

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#61 EHH Team
July 06 2013, 05:42PM
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michael wrote:

I am uncertain about how Jones will rebound this season. If he comes back with the determination that he spoke of in his comments after resigning then the signing may be a good one. He needs to bring the physicality every night. He needs to bring the truculence. The anger.If not he will toiling in the minors pretty darn fast.Hope he returns to form. If he does it will be a value signing.

I think the eye injury had a big effect. Hopefully, with a full training camp he will return to form.

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#62 2004Z06
July 06 2013, 06:32PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

How long till all these, so called overpays, come home to roost? If Edmonton has to overpay for role players such as Gordon. What will that do to the Oilers cap situation in 5 yrs when/if they're running with the top teams in the league.

Maybe Bettman could add 20% to the Oilers cap to accommodate for this, so called "Northern Living Allowance". Not going to happen I know, but when is this accepted "Edmonton has to overpay" going to bite them in the arse?

You mean in 5 yrs when the cap is 80 mil? Rest assured we won't have cap issues. Everyone knows one of the kids will have to be moved by then to take the next step.

With all the D depth we have in the system now, they can start bringing in younger cheaper otions as the older more expensive options move out.

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#63 2004Z06
July 06 2013, 06:36PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Yes, as well as 6 yrs at 4.75 I believe. I'd take him, but not ahead of Sean or Braydon.

So does Coburn

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#64 Oilcruzer
July 07 2013, 06:17AM
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Tyler wrote a good piece on this.

http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=6211

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#65 WhattaMike
July 08 2013, 10:01AM
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Good article Mr. JW...

I believe very much that Gordon is a very good "defensive, young enough" player worth the contract. I am a "Shawn Horcoff the player" fan but not for that contract he got (not blaming him for that).

Gordon represents top defence mostly so as for the young and gun kids to get going more offensively. He will help out the PK big time (now likely paired with Smyth & Jonsey too).

The Oilers are now lacking three things IMO for this coming season... a top LW for the 2nd line, a strong gritty 4th line centre who can slot into the #3 line (when concerning injuries of others), and a tougher big 4th line enforcer.

A better top faceoff two way 2nd line center is in that equation too...unless Gagner keeps proving that this last yr was one step of many going forward/upward..

If the Oilers/Eakins can somehow get Ben Eager to get going and slug it out the right way on the 4th line, with a new centre and say,...RW Joensuu... or even Mike Brown (without allowing opposition scoring as much) then he this that Oilers' needed effective and good player on a good line. Thats hoping come from me on Eager though.

I would like to know more of this referred of good skating tougher decent size 4th line centre the Oilers got with Eakins blessing...Ryan Hamilton (just past Capt of the marlies)

To get those three type players for the Oilers this summer...we have some very good assets to start trading now and those mainly are...

future draft picks, then S. Gagner (if Contract too big), N.Schultz or Smid, Lander, Hartikainen, Rajala, Omark, Gernat, Musil, Davidson,...etc.

One of Schultz and Smid will be gone, especially is Klefbom is the real gem that he is being talked of in many circles..

Let the Oilers/MacT new strategy season begin!!!!

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