Bringing Back Horcoff (Part 3)

C7G6458_slideI should probably change the name of this post, as Horcoff has officially signed with the Anaheim Ducks for one year at $1.75 million. But since this ties in with Part 1 and Part 2, I’ll leave it as is.

Once the Oilers acquired winger Lauri Korpikoski for Boyd Gordon, I figured there’d be no chance of Horcoff returning. The Oilers left wing roster chart was filled before the free agency window opened with Hall, Pouliot, Hendricks, Pakarinen and now Korpikoski signed to play next season. Horcoff had success as a center for the Oilers, but in his past two seasons, he’s been primarily a winger in Dallas.

The Ducks, it appears, have signed him as a centerman. Their left wing roster already has Perry, Maroon, Sekac and now Hagelin who was acquired from New York. Down the middle is where they’ll likely use Horcoff as Nate Thompson is out until December. Ahead of him will be Getzlaf, Kesler and young Rickard Rakell, who the Ducks are probably looking to develop over the next year as he heads into restricted free agency.

It’s obvious Horcoff really wanted to join a cup contender for next season, which is fair considering his age. He’s likely to start as the third/fourth line center until December when Thompson comes back, and then be fighting for a roster spot.. It’s a good, low risk signing for the Ducks, who have added experience to their roster and have flexibility setting their lines.

It’s worth noting that the Ducks replaced Beleskey’s production on left wing with relatively cheaper options in Horcoff and Hagelin, who were both productive last season for Dallas and New York, respectively. (Oddly enough, Beleksey appeared in my list of comparables in my last post on Horcoff). Here’s how all three did at even-strength, when the score was close (Source: War on Ice).

2014-2015, Even-strength, Score Close
Statistic M. Beleskey (ANA)
LW
S. Horcoff  (DAL)
LW/C
C. Hagelin  (NYR)
LW
Games 65 76 82
Goals 12 5 10
Assists 7 11 12
Points 19 16 22
TOI/Game 7.65 6.20 7.70
Points/60 2.29 2.04 2.09
Player Shooting % 15.79 12.20 11.36
Zone Starts (Offensive)% 51.44 50.55 48.44
ZSO%Rel 2.54 0.11 -2.30
Corsi For% 53.22 53.13 49.21
CF%Rel 3.09 1.02 -0.72
Scoring Chances For% 53.85 57.08 48.43
SCF%Rel 2.46 4.79 -2.46
Shots For% 51.22 52.20 49.92
SF%Rel 0.47 0.04 -1.27

Not bad potential replacements, considering the cost. Hagelin played mostly with JT Miller and Kevin Hayes in New York, and my guess is he’ll play with Kesler and Silfverberg, who were often Beleskey’s linemates (Source: Hockey Analysis). Haglelin had slightly more points this past season, but his possession stats and shot-share don’t show too well. Horcoff is definitely nearing the end of his career, but he’s a nice option for the Ducks who should be at the top of the division again this season.

Misleading Information Regarding Nail Yakupov

The host of the Oilers’ radio broadcast recently tweeted some misleading information regarding sophomore Nail Yakupov.

First off, the plus/minus stat is an extremely poor method of measuring a player’s performance. Yakupov, without a doubt, is struggling this year. With only nine goals, and eight assists so far, it’s clear he’s well off the pace he set last year. But tacking on a statistic that rewards and punishes players who may have nothing to do with the goal scored is just bad reporting. Other factors that can drive a player’s plus minus down include shoddy goaltending, unlucky bounces and empty net goals.

David Staples of Cult of Hockey put together a nice piece on why the plus/minus stat lacks credibility:

In a five year study — compiled through game in, game out video analysis of every goal scored for and against the Edmonton Oilers from 2008 to 2013 — it’s apparent that on goals for, about 70 per cent of the plus marks are correctly assigned to players who make some contribution, major or minor, to the goal. But 30 per cent of the plus marks are awarded to players who make little or no contribution at all to the goal being scored.

Wilkins’ tweet also comes after a game in which Yakupov, I thought, played pretty well. Against the Stars, Yakupov made some great plays, including a couple hits that lead to a nice scoring chance for the Oilers. He set up Gagner late in the game for a decent scoring chance as well.

Bruce McCurdy of Cult of Hockey provided this summary of Yakupov’s game. A lot of positives, but unfortunately they get overshadowed by misleading stats like plus/minus.

#64 Nail Yakupov, 5. Some good, some bad. Proactive without the puck, and was credited with 3 hits and 3 takeaways. Had one good sequence when he hit Sergei Gonchar on the end boards, stole the puck, walked out for a decent backhand shot, then when Gonchar recovered the rebound chased him down and hit him again. Made one nifty steal for an apparent chance only to bobble it away. Later broke his stick on an attempted one-timer of a nice Hemsky set-up. Made a soft pass to a covered Eberle which resulted in the jailbreak on the 2-1 goal that put the Stars ahead to stay. Wound up -2 after being out for the empty-netter as well, which put him at a frigid -30 on the year, by far the worst in the NHL.

I get that Yakupov is struggling, but let’s not suggest he’ll approach the record for worst plus/minus. Keep the reporting fair and put the right information into the right context.

UPDATED:

Reid was kind enough to clarify his comment and provide some context:

+/- can be misleading. Yak did have a decent game Tuesday. A couple of listeners asked if he could break the all-time record. I provided that stat. Never suggested he would approach the record. Rob and I discussed +/- on the call in show. I don’t feel I did any unfair reporting.