Shawn Horcoff: Exile On Main Street

Shawn Horcoff has become the Karl Wallenda of the Edmonton Oilers. After a couple of seasons playing against the opposition’s best with the Oilers best, this year Horcoff was given lesser linemates and sent out to slay the dragon. The results were not pretty, but I think some of the problem had to do with pure bad luck and goaltending. How much of his downturn–and how much the Oilers can count on Horcoff next season–are open questions.

  • Boxcars: 77gp, 13-23-36
  • Shots: 123
  • Plus Minus: -29
  • Corsi (Rel): 0.6 (7th F)
  • GF/GA ON: 32-60
  • 5×5/60: 1.37 (9th F)
  • 5×4/60: 2.80 (8th F)
  • Quality of Competition: 2nd F (toughest C)
  • Quality of Teammates: 7th F
  • FO Percentage: 46.4% in 1337 FO’s
  • Offensive Zone FO %: 45.3 (tied for toughest F)
  • Cap Hit: $5.5M
  1. What do these numbers tell us? Horcoff used to have another C to help with the heavy lifting, but there is no Stoll and there is no Reasoner. Much of his offensive downturn can be credited to yeoman work in the faceoff circle and on the PK. He played the toughest minutes among centers on the team with third level help and the results were poor. I don’t know that anyone could expect a different result considering how bad the team is overall.
  2. How could the numbers be better? I think the Oilers could have done themselves (and Horcoff) a huge favor by signing someone to help in the middle. A veteran, dependable center to take ownzone faceoffs and grab some of the special teams minutes from Horcoff. For all the talk about injuries, the Edmonton Oilers once again did nothing to address need. Many fans blamed Horcoff, but the real culprit is the General Manager of the hockey club. Horcoff was poor in the faceoff circle compared to his established level of ability and by eye missed more than the usual number of exceptional scoring chances.
  3. What about Gagner? I thought Horcoff would play fewer minutes on the PP and that in fact did happen (3:44 a game in 08-09 and 2:37 this season). The Oilers had 182 powerplay opportunities in 2008-09 and 145 chances this season, so some of the reduction came from playing on a less talented hockey team. Either way, Gagner remains a candidate to grab PP minutes and should Seguin be selected at the draft that’ll be a further threat to the offensive opportunities. A UFA signing for a checker or Pouliot’s good health may threaten his TOI at the bottom end.
  4. Will the Oilers continue to play him against tough opposition? Of course. They have no other options. Even if they sign a veteran RH C they’ll rely on Horcoff in his current role. He’s been good at it for some time and should be good at it again (barring injuries and decline).
  5. What about erosion? It really is the elephant in the room now. I wasn’t critical of Lowe’s signing of Horcoff then so I’m not going to get pissy now. Having said that, if Horcoff’s offense continues to erode and the club ends up with a 30-point C making $5.5M then we have our “Bobby Holik is a Ranger” centerman.
  6. They should have kept Schremp for Horcoff’s offensive role. I’ll never understand this. Rob Schremp wasn’t in competition with Horcoff for playing time. Even in a season when line matching was hit-and-miss Horcoff played the toughs. The PP minutes Horcoff does get are better sent to Gagner and Seguin moving forward.
  7. Why do you always defend Horcoff? I’ve never seen a reason to rip the guy. He was not an ideal candidate for the roles he was asked to fill but he gutted it out and made himself a valuable player. He emerged as a guy who could be counted on to fill a tough slot in the batting order and after doing it he was rewarded with a healthy contract. Since then we have some injuries and a team with massive holes and some goaltending that has killed his number (plus minus).
  8. So you have no problem predicting 60 points next season and +20? I worry about his injuries and about aging. I also believe that his offensive numbers will suffer at EVs if Hemsky isn’t on his wing. Having said that, if he’s healthy and can get some of that footspeed back (which may be related to injury) then yes I think he can have a 60 point season. Confidence and health could help him in a big way.
  9. Well, what if his offense is gone and he’s just a checker? The Oilers will have an expensive 3line C.
By The Numbers
  • 06-07 5×5 per 60m: 1.52
  • 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 2.59
  • 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.59
  • 09-10 5×5 per 60m: 1.37

By the Numbers
  • 06-07 5×4 per 60m: 4.87
  • 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 4.00
  • 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 3.68
  • 09-10 5×4 per 60m: 2.80

Predictions Past 2009-10: 71gp, 18-29-47 (.662)
Performance in  2009-10: 77gp, 13-23-36 (.468)

Projected Role on 2010-11 Oilers: Center playing the tough minutes

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