Last summer , I put together a case for the Oilers to bring back Shawn Horcoff as a way to solidify their depth and give support to the young forwards. Obviously a long shot that he’d actually come back to Edmonton as a free agent. But he was worth a look as he put together two decent seasons in Dallas as a depth winger, and would’ve been a cheap signing.
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I was happy to see that Horcoff signed with the Ducks as it gave him a great chance to win the cup and cap off a great career. I didn’t expect him to play a whole lot to be honest, as I figured he would be a fill-in for Nate Thompson while he was recovering from surgery. But when I checked in in December, not only was Horcoff still playing at center even with Thompson back, but his ice-time had gradually increased from the start of the season.
Horcoff actually finished the season well scoring 13 even-strength points in 59 games (Source: War on Ice), good for 9th on team among forwards (over 250 minutes of ice time). And his 1.22 points/60 wasn’t too far off from his six year average of 1.28. Looking at his Relative to Team metrics, we see below that while the team did slightly better possession wise without Horcoff on the ice, the Ducks actually generated more high-danger scoring chances when Horcoff was on the ice (+3.62), ranking him 2nd on the team behind Ryan Getzlaf. This appears to have translated into more goals, as the team got a higher share of total goals at even-strength when Horcoff was out there (+2.03), ranking him 6th on the team this season. Worth noting that luck (i.e., PDO) does not appear to have been a factor as the team wasn’t getting a higher-than-normal shooting percentage (only 6.33%) with Horcoff on the ice, and his personal shooting percentage was lower than his six-year average. I’ve also included expected goals, which captures shot quality and factors in the type and location of the shot (Source: Corsica Hockey).
The key takeaway from this table is that comparing this season’s numbers with his six year average, things aren’t too far off and in some areas, he was better than his average. Considering Horcoff is turning 38 this fall, I figured we’d start to see a decline in productivity but that hasdn’t been the case this past season.
Unfortunately for him, the 20-game suspension for taking a banned substance is what will likely define his season. It’s also hard to overlook the fact that Horcoff is 38 soon and has been dealing with injuries and may even consider retiring. But seeing what he could do as a depth player this past season, I think more than a few teams could take a chance on him and sign him to a very reasonable contract. Horcoff is well past his prime now, but the fact that he can post numbers that are near his career averages indicates, to me at least, that he may just have something left in the tank.