In the comments section to my Zack Stortini article yesterday, reader Jake suggested that Stortini might be a better fit as an agitator than as a fighter. It’s a thought I liked, and one that I’ve had before. Just to see how well Stortini was doing in that department, I decided to look at penalties taken vs. penalties drawn for the forwards the Oilers will be employing next season.
The chart below (courtesy of behindthenet.ca) shows penalties drawn for every 60 minutes of even-strength ice-time minus penalties taken for every 60 minutes of even-strength ice-time. One thing to keep in mind: every forward on this list should be a positive player; at the NHL level defencemen take more penalties than forwards and thus the vast majority of forwards have a positive number here.
|Player||Penalties Taken/60||Penalties Drawn/60||Difference/60|
I see a few things of note on that chart:
Stortini is just flat-out bad at this, and that surprises me. I had expected him to fare rather well, but he took more penalties than he drew this year and last year, and just barely came out ahead in 2007-08. I’ve seen a lot of Stortini yapping at opposition players, and a lot of opponents reacting to him, but this appears to be a case where I just observed wrong. Stortini isn’t quite in Ethan Moreau territory, but this is an area where he needs to improve.
Brule and Horcoff aren’t helping anyone out here, and despite his great season Penner is just adequate. None of these names are all that surprising; Brule’s not the most disciplined player, Horcoff was in over his head last season and shows it here, and Penner just isn’t that fast and played against some good players. I’d guess that a detailed examination would show those as the key reason these players didn’t excel in this department.
Cogliano, Gagner and Hemsky are an unsurprising trio near the top here. Hemsky routinely draws a high number of penalties, but he’s also guilty of lazy stick infractions and so he makes less of a positive impact than he could. Gagner’s relatively disciplined and skill players generally fare well here; I’d hope to see this number improve over time. As for Cogliano, we’ve all seen his speed result in power plays and it’s an underappreciated asset he brings to the rink.
Finally, the newcomers. Despite the hype Jordin Tootoo gets as an agitator in Nashville, Ryan Jones is actually better at generating power plays than Tootoo; in 2008-09 he drew more penalties than Tootoo while taking fewer, while his overall number in 2009-10 was also better than Tootoo’s. Jones’ penalty differential numbers over an admittedly short career are very high end; this past season he wasn’t quite Patrick Kaleta but he was on pace to take 17 penalties while drawing 42 – an additional 25 power plays for his team. For a guy getting fourth-line ice-time, that’s incredibly impressive. I wasn’t blown away by the Jones move at first, but this makes him a much more impressive pickup.
Colin Fraser is no slouch in this department either, drawing three times as many penalties as he took last season, and putting up a similar performance the year before. I’m not sure why Chicago let this guy go given how cheap he was to sign (pinching pennies, I suppose) but he’s another nice acquisition and the combination of him and Jones on the Oilers’ fourth line would go a long way toward increasing the total number of power plays the team gets.