Faceoff Percentage 97-02

A quick back and forth with Dennis King yesterday got me thinking about faceoff percentages. As any fan of the current Edmonton Oilers knows, faceoffs are damned important and own zone faceoffs are teaching every Oiler fan a lesson about their value in 10-11 (and before).

Since we do have some information available to us going back about 15 years, I thought it might be an idea to write it down so we could have a starting point. I’m going to pay close attention centermen until they’re age 27; after that we can assume they’re either 50% or better, of were moved to the wing.

Perhaps we can get some insight into the current group of young C’s and their development in this very important and under-reported area of the game.

1997-98

  1. Jason Arnott (22) 51.8% 577 sorties (traded)
  2. Todd Marchant (24) 49.6% 220 sorties
  3. Mats Lindgren (22) 49.0% 1377 sorties
  4. Tony Hrkac (31) 48.3% in 482 sorties
  5. Doug Weight (26) 47.6% in 1481 sorties
  6. Rem Murray (24) 40.2% in 629 sorties
  7. Boyd Devereaux (19) 39.1 in 243 sorties

We get a nice glimpse of how hard it is for teenagers to win faceoffs, and we also see that the rest of the group is a little under 50% after Arnott is dealt. Interesting numbers.

1998-99

  1. Josef Beranek (28) 50.2% in 1251 sorties
  2. Todd Marchant (25) 50% in 1449 sorties
  3. Doug Weight (27) 49.5% in 853 sorties
  4. Rem Murray (25) 48.1% in 1013 sorties
  5. Mats Lindgren (23) 47.9% in 363 sorties (traded)
  6. Boyd Devereaux (20) 42.8% in 409 sorties

We know from previous looks at faceoffs that the longer a player spends in the NHL the better he appears to be at it. There are a couple of reasons imo: first, the guys who aren’t any good are moved to the wing, and second it’s probably a lot like a veteran hitter getting the benefit of the doubt on close pitches. Veteran centers can cheat a little without getting caught often. Marchant seemed to be good at faceoffs compared to Murray and Weight in both seasons. I think that rhymes with what we thought at the time.

1999-20

  1. Jim Dowd (30) 54% in 720 sorties
  2. Josef Beranek (29) 53.4% in 558 sorties (traded)
  3. Todd Marchant (26) 52.9% in 1593 sorties
  4. Rem Murray (26) 50.5% in 303 sorties
  5. Doug Weight (28) 50.4% in 1588 sorties
  6. Chad Kilger (22) 48% in 269 sorties
  7. Boyd Devereaux (21) 34.8% in 241 sorties

This looks like a pretty good club in the circle. Marchant leads the career center’s (Weight, Murray, Marchant) again and veterans from other clubs lead the group. Devereaux is getting his show run at this point.

2000-01

  1. Dom Pittis (25) 54.8% in 367 sorties
  2. Todd Marchant (27) 53.8% in 1549 sorties
  3. Chad Kilger (23) 53.4% in 391 sorties
  4. Doug Weight (29) 51.3% in 1514 sorties
  5. Rem Murray (27) 49.3% in 694 sorties
  6. Mike Comrie (20) 43.3% in 372 sorties
  7. Shawn Horcoff (22) 41.8% in 122 sorties

Interesting to see the three regular centers (Weight, Murray, Marchant) and their progress through these seasons. The Oilers would say goodbye to Weight in the summer of 2001. We can also see the next generation arriving, once again in the low 40′s.

2001-02

  1. Marty Reasoner (24) 55.5% in 470 sorties
  2. Todd Marchant (28) 52.4% in 1523 sorties
  3. Rem Murray (28) 50.9% in 825 sorties
  4. Mike Comrie (21) 47.3% in 1198 sorties
  5. Anson Carter (27) 46.5% in 316 sorties
  6. Shawn Horcoff (23) 46.3% in 454 sorties

Why in hell did we trade Reasoner at the 2006 deadline? With Poo huffing mono and Rem with no gem, Marty would have been pretty freaking handy. Anyway, Reasoner leads the group, Marchant is the real deal (and we suspect he’d be doing the own zone dance) and Murray is above level. Carter is with the kids, but both are progressing nicely.

CURRENT TEAM

  1. Gilbert Brule (23) 53.2% in 154 sorties
  2. Shawn Horcoff (32) 49.2% in 535 sorties
  3. Colin Fraser (25) 43.7% in 387 sorties
  4. Dustin Penner (28) 42.3% in 253 sorties
  5. Sam Gagner (21) 41.8% in 729 sorties
  6. Andrew Cogliano (23) 41.8% in 579 sorties
  7. Taylor Hall (18) 37.6% in 93 sorties

One thing I need to make clear: the current team is way behind the turn of the century group for good reasons. First, they aren’t playing with experienced wingers for the most part; an example would be Shawn Horcoff, who has had two rookies alongside for much of the year. So he’s not getting some of the contribution that the Weight-Murray-Marchant group would have received from Smyth, Grier et al.

How do we know this? Well, Horcoff enjoyed more experienced wingers in 2005-06 and posted a 52.7% at age 27. That puts him in the range with Marchant. Although Horcoff has endured injuries since the Stanley run, I think much of his falloff in the category can be attributed to the youth on this club.

I’ll post the rest of the numbers later, but wanted to post this because it has some value.

One final note: how about that Brule number? Why don’t they play him at center. He has a skill, they need to use it.

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