Tuesday, September 14, 2010

30 Caps in 30 Days: Boyd Gordon

During the thirty days of September, I'll be trying to preview the seasons of thirty players currently under contract with the Washington Capitals and who have a good chance of spending some time in red, white, and blue this season. Advanced stats are given from behindthenet.ca ranked against other players at the same position--forward, defense, or goalie--in the same organization, at 5-on-5, unless otherwise noted. Age is on opening night. Today, Boyd Gordon)

Boyd Gordon: age 26, 6'0", 201 pounds, shoots right.
Contract: $800k, UFA in 2011, per Capgeek.
2009-2010 linemates: 39% Matt Bradley and David Steckel
2010 playoff linemates: 38% Matt Bradley and Jason Chimera, 19% Matt Bradley and David Steckel

2009-2010 raw stats:
NHL: 36 GP, 4-6-10, +4, 40 shots, 12 PIM
Playoffs: 6 GP, 1-1-2, +2, 11 shots, 0 PIM

2009-2010 advanced stats: 1st in Corsi QoC, last in Corsi Rel QoC, 7th in Corsi QoT, and 11th in Corsi Rel QoT. Zonestart 45.1% offensive zone (fifteenth, third-to-last) with Zonefinish 45.1% offensive zone (last). I'm not quite sure why there is such a disparity between the Corsi and Corsi Rel QoC numbers, but from what I've read one should put more stock in the "Rel" numbers.
2010 playoffs advanced stats: second-to-last in Corsi QoC, 10th in Corsi Rel QoC, third-to-last in Corsi QoT, and fourth-to-last in Corsi Rel QoT. Keep in mind that with the small sample size of the playoffs and the fact that Montreal got absolutely murdered in Corsi by Washington and Pittsburgh, the QoC statistics are probably messed up. For example, Alex Ovechkin might have been the best Corsi player in the playoffs, but that makes all his competition against Montreal seem very, very easy since he, well, made them look bad.

(Photo courtesy Caps Snaps)

WOWY (yellow is how much better the player is with Gordon, green how much better Gordon is with the player):

Boyd Gordon today is probably not what the Capitals were hoping for when they drafted him with their second pick of the first round, 17th overall (the team picked Alexander Semin literally a few minutes before that). He hasn't been able to score like the player that was going along at a good clip in the WHL, and no even like the rookie NHLer Boyd Gordon of a few years ago, but he's carved out a good role for himself as a cheap fourth line center who is defensively responsible and very, very good in the faceoff circle (his faceoff% was higher than the league leader, but Gordon did not play in enough games to qualify for the leaderboard).

Gordon in situations in which he was used was solid. His goals against per sixty minutes at five-on-five was a solid 2.01 with middling teammates, and the team still scored over three goals per sixty minutes during the same time. His goals against per sixty at four-on-five wasn't great at over eight, but he played with the second-weakest teammates. (Note: if Tomas Fleischmann is still on that PK list after I filtered TOI and GP in April next season I'm not picking the Capitals to win anything) He's certainly better than David Steckel and Eric Belanger, and thus probably the Capitals' second-best PK option at center after Nicklas Backstrom (and since Backstrom is so important offensively, Gordon might be the best PK option). With his PDO middling compared to other Caps, next season Gordon should maintain the same place and role relative to his teammates.

I really don't expect much to change next season with respect to Gordon. While his stats show he could be an okay third-line center, he's really most effective with Matt Bradley and David Steckel on the fourth line. And they do make a very very good fourth line, one that gets the better of the opposition. While his shooting percentage last season reached a career high of 10% (as opposed to his normal level of 7-8%), his on-ice save percentage wasn't particularly egregious. Hence, I expect more of the same defensively but a step back in scoring rates offensively. I'm not sure whether he plays tough competition--my eyes and some numbers say yes, some numbers say no--but it looks like Gordon's line is not one that needs to be particularly protected. Gordon could have an expanded role in 2010-2011.

The big question mark with Gordon is his health. Reports have come out that his back is finally healed, which means he might be able to play a lot more this upcoming season and contribute quite a bit from the fourth line.

Projection: 66 GP, 6-9-15, single digit minus rating, under 20 PIMs.

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