For those who don't know, I tracked passing stats during the 2014-2015 season as a part of the Passing Stats Project. The Project was spearheaded by Ryan Stimson, who writes for In Lou We Trust, another SBN website.
I've broken down Florida's offense using these passing stats before, but at the end of the season, we were able to sync the data we have with data from War On Ice.com, and thus get a complete look at how team's generated their offense during the season.
Let's get to it, then. How did your 2014-2015 Florida Panthers' forwards do in terms of producing offense for their team?
(Before we go on, be sure to check out this passing stat primer; there's a glossary in it in case anyone needs to look up what any of the acronyms mean. Also check out our LBC Advanced Stats Glossary for any stats you may need explained.)
(These cool charts are interactive. Select the button at the top to see the types of A2 SAGs being generated: defensive/neutral zone, offensive zone, and combined totals.)
Secondary passing attempts mostly just show playing style; guys who don't generate a lot of them like to skate the puck themselves, and create offense by pushing the pace. Players who have a high amount of A2 SAGs, however, like to distribute the puck, and get their teammates involved. Shot attempts that come from a sequence, and that result in an A2 SAG for a player, are also more likely to go in than shot attempts taken off of just primary passes, or from no pass at all.
The Good - Up the middle, Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, and Nick Bjugstad all try to get their teammates involved. Bjugstad doesn't get a lot of A2 SAGs in transition (DZ/NZ), but he makes up for it by generating A2 SAGs in the offensive zone. On the wing, Jussi Jokinen, Brad Boyes, and Jaromir Jagr all generate a lot of A2 SAGs, as does newcomer Reilly Smith.
The Bad - Dave Bolland creates a good amount of A2 SAGs in transition, but disappears once the puck gets inside his own zone. Derek MacKenzie doesn't pass very well in either zone, while Brandon Pirri and former Cat Jimmy Hayes both do little with the puck when it comes to passing it out of their own end.
The Extra - Centers pass the puck around more often than wingers, though some wingers find ways to get the puck on their sticks so that they can distribute it elsewhere.
Primary passes show us who directly contributes to shot attempts, and from where they do it. Players with high transition totals move the puck up on the rush (slightly higher shooting percentage), while high offensive zone totals mean that a lot of that player's offense comes from work along the boards. Elevated scoring chance totals are a result of quality passes into the slot, as these opportunities are more likely to result in a goal.
The Good - Jagr, Jokinen, and Huberdeau are the team's three best passers, with Boyes, Bjugstad, Smith, and Trocheck right behind them. Jokinen, Trocheck, Boyes and Huberdeau both create a lot of transition chances, while Bjugstad and Jagr create in the offensive zone. When it comes to scoring chance totals, Boyes, Smith and Jagr are the clear leaders.
The Bad - Besides the fact that Brad Boyes was bought out and can no longer provided the team with his high scoring chance SAG totals, there's a clear cutoff between the team's top six forwards and the team's bottom six forwards. Maybe the bottom half of the roster will produce a bit more next year, but in the end, the top half will probably be doing most of the extra lifting.
The Extra - Trocheck could probably be playing a top six role right now, but will have to settle for a bottom six role now that the team has acquired Reilly Smith (who looks very good, by the way). This is a GOOD thing. Having good players in depth roles can never hurt, and if you want to beat a team like Chicago Chicago in the playoffs, your third line needs to be as good as theirs. In 2015, that third line was Patrick Sharp - Antoine Vermette - Teuvo Teravainen.
This portion of the passing statistics adds the shooting aspect to the mix. Now we get to see which players actually initiate the team's offense while they're on the ice.
The Good - Though Bjugstad, Hayes, and Pirri all produced lots of total offense throughout the year, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are the most offensively gifted. Nor are Huberdeau, Jokinen, and Trocheck the most gifted. Unless a skater is one of the best in the league, like Jagr, and can generate shot attempts for himself and his teammates, then the two types of players (passers and shooters) need to work together to create the most offense possible for the team.
The Bad - Bolland, Shawn Thornton, and MacKenzie all contribute to less than 40% of the offensive output the team sees with them on the ice. Not pretty.
The Extra - Though I left Rocco Grimaldi and Garrett Wilson off of the charts, the two of them each had impressive numbers. I wouldn't be surprised to see both of them fight for a roster spot in training camp.
The defensemen are up next, so stay tuned for our next breakdown of the team's passing stats.