Shawn Horcoff may be at a crossroads in his career. Despite owning a lucrative contract that pays him handsomely through the summer of 2015, Horcoff’s health long term could spell an early end to #10′s time in the NHL.
Horcoff missed only 5 games (1 to the flu, 4 more to that shoulder that keeps giving him problems) and his quality of play was good when the coaching staff saw fit to play him and rest the denver-boot LW’s.
However, his faceoff winning percentage was well off (46.4% after several seasons in the 50′s) and his touch around the net was subpar. He did not appear to have the speed displayed spring 2006 and afterward. How much of this downgrade is due to wear and tear and how much is due to the NHL’s worst set of hockey cards surrounding him is an open question.
•Boxcars: 77gp, 13-23-36
•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
- 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. Here is quain’s excellent performance table for Horcoff.
- How could these numbers be better? The coaching staff had no choice but to split up Horcoff and Penner when Hemsky went down and the results weren’t immediate. Eventually, Horcoff was moved to a dedicated “checking line” with Opposite George and Fernando Pisani. His final 21 games were effective (4-9-13 E in those games) and perhaps give us some hope for 2011-12.
- You’re not going to even mention the -29? It was tough to watch. Have you any suggestions in regard to other options? Hey, I’ll admit freely that Horcoff suffered when Hemsky went down and Penner was moved but the fact remains he spent the entire season climbing the highest mountain.
- Does he need help at C? GOD YES! The Oilers have signed Colin Fraser and Sam Gagner is a year older. Is it enough? No, but the Oilers management group doesn’t appear to value faceoffs as highly as other teams. Or at least that has been the case in the past, perhaps Tom Renney will have a different view. If we see Cogliano losing faceoffs by the pound, we’ll know.
- After such a poor season, maybe the Oilers will play him against softer opponents? Well, no. Horcoff remains the best center on the team in terms of playing a complete game. Sam Gagner has shown some promise but he’s not yet 21 and would appear to be at least a couple of seasons away from such a difficult role. It falls to Horcoff, as he is now very likely the new Stan Weir.
- As it should, he’s making the money. No doubt, but the complete lack of depth at center on the Oilers forces them to overuse Horcoff.
- He didn’t play that many minutes. Well, yes and no. In the last two seasons the Oilers have been so horrible at faceoffs Horcoff spends plenty of time racing to the bench after ownzone faceoffs. He took 1337 faceoffs (17th overall) last season while playing 1496 minutes. He ranked 29th in overall playing time among centermen.
- 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 the coaching staff keeps playing him with JF Jacques against the toughs Horcoff will be in the Asian League by 2013.
- 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). And he’s eroding, but we don’t know how much the other factors (Chupacabra on the wing, the goaltending) have contributed to the lesser Horcoff.
- What if his offense is gone and he’s a checker? Then the Oilers will have an expensive checker.
- If you had to bet for or against him, what would it be? For. Hey, Shawn Horcoff doesn’t have to prove one damn thing to me or any other Oiler fan. He signed a contract with the man in charge of the silver and when injuries hit he continued to soldier on; even after Horcoff was injured he still played for the Oilers. You always bet on that sort of person, it just makes sense. I would suggest Shawn Horcoff has worked hard this off-season to make sure he’s ready to come back and improve his performance.
- Should he be the captain? I think so, but he is not popular with the fanbase. No use putting more pressure on him.
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)