I’m looking at faceoff percentages and how wingers (specifically rookie wingers) impact faceoff percentage. It’s a tough item to delve into, and frankly I think it will be impossible to make sweeping statements about how much rookies impact the faceoff circle.

As an example, Shawn Horcoff has been taking faceoffs for the Oilers for a long time, and his percentages are going the wrong way. Is that because his skill in this area eroded? Or is it because the group of players beside him are not experienced enough to urge the puck in the right direction?

  • 2002-03: (24) 42.9% in 301 sorties
  • 2003-04: (25) 50.6% in 1378 sorties 
  • 2005-06: (27) 52.7% in 1421 sorties 
  • 2006-07: (28) 50.6 in 1422 sorties 
  • 2007-08: (29) 50.6% in 963 sorties 
  • 2008-09: (30) 53.9% in 1756 sorties (#1 on team)
  • 2009-10: (31) 46.4% in 1337 sorties
  • 2010-11: (32) 48.3% in 813 sorties

The Oilers through 2006 had some experience on the wings and really the kids didn’t arrive until fall 2007. The additions of Cogliano and Gagner in 07-08 didn’t seem to impact Horcoff, but the last two seasons he’s been going the wrong way.

In 08-09, the year he led the team in FO percentage (and took a lot of them), Horcoff played mostly with Penner-Hemsky (21%) and then will guys like Ales Kotalik and Erik Cole. Veterans.

In 09-10 (the first slide), Horcoff played at even strength with Moreau-Pisani (15%) and then the rest of the time with people like Patrick O’Sullivan and JF Jacques. He spent less than 6% of that season with Penner-Hemsky.

In 10-11, Horcoff spent 26% of his even strength time with Hall-Eberle, 15% with Penner-Hemsky. His FO percentage improved, perhaps indicating that the two rookies this season were better than the group from the previous year.

At a guess, I’d say Horcoff’s fall off has something to do with injury, but there’s a healthy dose of rookies and aging veterans on the wing who have helped the erosion along.

What say you?

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