Since we broke down why Compher was -29 on the season and discovered that the Avs found it nearly impossible to score when he was on the ice, it follows that we should find out why. He ran through several roles last year, starting out with Gabe Landeskog on his wing in the early going then settling into the bottom 6 maelstrom with the rest of the rookies plus Wilson & Bourque for the rest of the season. He had time on the power play units & PK, trying to score late & trying to prevent scores late, offense & defense, grindy & skilled. By the playoffs I think the staff found something useful going forward with him going back to a role of skilled grinder that can handle many different things but specializes in few.
Just glancing at his general statistics for the year, he was middle of the team in Corsi for percentage and goals against per hour. What really stands out are his goals for per hour and on-ice shooting percentage which were both lowest on the team for regular players. Taking it a step further his expected goals per hour, which measures shot quality along with volume, was also lowest on the team among regulars but not to the degree his GF/60 was.
To explain why, I’m going to develop a profile of what happens when he’s on the ice and what his contributions are (all numbers are 5v5 unless noted).
Legend: i – individual, CF – shot attempts for, xGF – expected goals for, G – goals, GF – goals for, P – points
iCF/CF – 23.0%, 5th among regular forwards
ixGF/xGF – 32.3%, also 5th
This means that he takes 23% of the shots attempted when he’s on the ice and generates almost a third of the shot “quality”. Call this shooty rather than passy and indicates he is driving play a lot of the time.
G/GF – 31.1%, 4th on team
P/GF – 63.0%, 8th on team
If a goal was scored when he was on the ice, 31% of the time it was he who scored and 63% of the time he either scored or assisted. This can say a couple things, maybe he’s a puck hog that should pass more or maybe his linemates just can’t finish and he’s got to be the guy. Overall you would characterize this as a player that’s involved regularly with driving the offense.
iCF/60 – 12.32, 6th on team
ixGF/60 – 0.54, 6th on team
G/ixGF – 0.685 (or 68.5%), 2nd lowest on team among guys that scored a goal
iSh% – 5.32%, 2nd lowest among regular forwards
Basically this is saying that he’s shooting it into the goalie’s chest all the time like everyone thinks. With the attempts he’s making, statistics indicate he should have been shooting quite a bit better. This is the part of the downside. Driving play is good, not converting is concerning.
CF/60 – 53.7, 8th among forwards
xGF/60 – 1.67, lowest on team
GF/xGF – .713 (or 71.3%), lowest on team
on-ice Sh% – 4.36%, lowest on team
These are all on-ice rather than individual and they say that not only do the Avs have issues generating quality shots when he’s on the ice but when they actually do they have a very difficult time finishing them off. So it’s not just JT shooting into the goalie’s chest or 5 feet over the net, everyone on the ice when he’s out there does too.
So, do we have a linemate issue here? Compher’s overall goals per hour rates are 1.19 for (worst on team) and 2.25 against (mid-pack). Here’s how he fared with his 5 most common partners:
Jost: 1.34 for, 1.73 against – better in both offense & defense
Wilson: 1.15 for, 1.85 against – same offense, better defense
Kerfoot: 1.17 for, 2.92 against – same offense, scary bad defense
Andrighetto: 1.43 for, 2.14 against – much better offense, slightly better defense
Bourque: 0.45 for, 2.26 against – hideous offense, same defense
Bourque was a huge drag on Compher, Compher was a big drag on Kerfoot and Sven seemed to prop up Compher the most. Not that you would use this strictly as a guide for creating lines but a good plan might be to keep Compher away from Bourque and Kerfoot if possible and that playing with Jost and Andrighetto could pay off.
That’s a lot of data, I apologize, but it pays to be thorough. What we’ve got here with young Mr Compher is a reasonably good defensive forward that drives play but does not create scoring. He works well with guys that shoot a lot like Jost and Andrighetto, although Sven has some of the same shooting percentage issues. Compher’s best career offensive year was his final season at Michigan when he had 16 goals and 47 assists and the passing is something that I’ve been waiting to see develop in the NHL.
That hot zone in the high slot is ok but being ice cold in the high-danger zone speaks a lot to why both his personal and on-ice shooting percentages are awful. The Avs in general are pretty weak there so some system adjustments need to made along with setting up Compher to get the puck closer to the net before developing shots. He had 10 assists total and 5 at 5v5, both of those could double or more easily.
A lot of folks that follow the team don’t have a lot of faith in his offensive upside but he missed significant time with hand injuries this year. The 13 goals could easily be in the 16-20 range over a full season and a stock 1:1 assist ratio would put him close to 40 points.
JT Compher was miscast in several roles this season and to be fair the other rookies all went through the same thing while the coaching staff determined what their strengths were. They’ve got a handle on what he can do now, where he needs improvement and what kind of upside is there, which is exactly what 2017-18 was about. This season will be different. For Compher it’s going to be about overcoming the scoring issues and consolidating the role of 2-way bottom-6 center because there’s a host of candidates behind him with similar potential.
Thanks to naturalstattrick.com, Corsica and the NHL for stats, Micah and hockeyviz.com for the heat map and our own SeaMill for spreadsheet wizardry.