Continuing the Great Debate- David Legwand
Last week, I touched on David Legwand by addressing Robby’s analysis of Legwand via the plus/minus stat. I ended that piece by making the statement that ” Legwand is also showing that once again, if given offensively-skilled wingers, he’ll produce offensively”. In this space, I’d thought I’d show Legwand’s impact on the team since his return from injury on 12/31 in which he was put onto a solid two-way line with wingers having offensive skills. That represents a 14-game span. While certainly not a long span, it’s just about the longest span of playing such a role since the 2006-2007 season when Paul Kariya and Martin Erat were his regular wings.
Let’s take a look:
|Projected Totals (82 Games)|
That’s a pretty noticeable difference across the board. That 59 points represents the most by Nashville’s top center since Jason Arnott has 72 points in 2007-2008 (while playing a pure scoring role with crafty, offensively-skilled veterans in J.P. Dumont and Steve Sullivan). Right now, the pace that Legwand is on is very impressive and it’s allowing him to contribute offensively and defensively.
Another key question to me was what impact Legwand might be having to his line mates, Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist (who was off pace early on, but showed sparks at times with Cal O’Reilly and Sullivan).
|Projected Totals (82 Games)|
|Projected Totals (82 Games)|
I fully expected the jump for Colin Wilson. He’s been all over the lineup and hasn’t had consistent line mates for awhile. Hornqvist is a different story. Hornqvist has always been on a solid offensive line since the season began. It’s also not like his totals these past 14 games are weighted by power play time as only two points (both goals) came from the power play. I didn’t think I would ever see Hornqvist with a double-digit shot percentage. There’s also dramatic differences in the +/- stat for all three players as well.
To me, this says that David Legwand has pretty good offensive skills and can help better the players around him if there’s chemistry and they have offensive skills in place. He’s not an elite offensive player that’s going to make everyone better- and no one should have those expectations. I do think that he’s both the best center offensively and defensively on the roster until Goc, O’Reilly or Lombardi show otherwise.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect here is that it doesn’t matter who’s on the ice against Legwand and this line during this stretch. If it has still been the opponent’s top line, then it’s all the more impressive that Legwand, Wilson and Hornqvist have more than held their own. If the responsibility of facing the opposition’s best every night has been given to another line, then moving Legwand to a role that maximizes his talents has not hurt the team. It’s win/win.
The Week That Was
Nashville finished up their long six game road trip with stops in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Unfortunately they were only able to grab points in the win over Edmonton.
- Nashville really looked tired for most of the trip. Hopefully, the All-Star break will allow them to get their feet back under them.
- These past two games really saw the power play struggle for the first time since late December. Two things were very noticeable to me in those games. First, Calgary and Vancouver were aggressive with their penalty kill units- and not just on the points. They smothered the Predators at every opportunity, winning the one-on-one battles and not allowing any time for a decision to be made with the puck. I also noticed that the movement by the players frequently put them into an off-handed position on the ice. While that can be useful at times, it can also multiply the problems caused by an aggressive kill by limiting the choices a player has in moving the puck (particularly if the movements of the line mates are not synchronized). This will have to be addressed by Trotz and his staff before they see Calgary again on Tuesday.
Chris Burton (@predatweeter) from our friends at OnTheForecheck, provided a good rebuttal to the Ed Willes’ column in the Province in a post by Puck Daddy, Greg Wyshynski. Ryan Porth (@RLDHockey) also touched on the subject a couple of days later on RLDHockey.net in article discussing how Nashville might be able to retain their core.
Right now, Chris is right. It’s much ado about nothing. Of course, Willes said the same thing. What I’ve found the most intriguing was that Willes essentially confirmed that it’s entirely possible that Nashville will have to sign a one year contract with Weber or even trade him in the offseason. The quotes from Fenton illustrate that pretty well.
“Frustrating is a word you can use,” Fenton said. “Reality is the other word you can use. We all live with it. We’re not a big-market team.”
When I read that, I read that despite all the statements from ownership that Weber is going nowhere, that they know the ballpark of the salary being sought and that it’s not an issue, the truth is that re-signing Shea Weber will not be quite as easy as many fans likely thought.
Willes really hits the nail on the head regarding the reasons too. It’s not obtaining the money to re-sign Shea Weber. It’s not even about obtaining the money necessary to re-sign Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne. Ryan’s article (as have many other articles from Predators’ bloggers, including myself) does a good job of showing that Nashville can do that without crossing the perceived internal budget of the salary cap midpoint. This all comes down to convincing each of those players, in turn, that they can win consistently and compete for a Stanley Cup while playing in Nashville.
Ownership may continue to claim at every opportunity that their goal is to compete for a Stanley Cup every season. It’s fair to say that everything that they have done to this point has shown every indication of having the wherewithal and determination of seeing that through. If they fail to sign Shea Weber to a long-term contract, however, that tells me and Weber that there are limits to that wherewithal and determination.
Elite players want to have the same chance as every other elite player to compete for the Cup. If you don’t convince one that they will have that opportunity, you will not keep once they reach unrestricted status- no matter how much they love the coach, their teammates, the city, or the fans. That fact has always been in my mind when I’ve made past pushes for that one piece to put Nashville over the hump (Hossa, Semin, and most recently Iginla).
That’s another “reality” for Paul Fenton, David Poile and the owners.
Around the NHL – Headshots Continue to Dominate, Again
Mike Milbury opened his mouth again and, to no one’s surprise, showed himself to be out-of-touch about the game of hockey as it’s played today in calling Pierre McGuire a “soccer mom” (video in Stu Hackel’s SI.com article).
I don’t know about most of you, but I’ve had about enough of Milbury and his idiocy. I bet Islander fans agree with me.
The Week Ahead for Nashville
- Tuesday, 2/1 – vs. Calgary (FSN)
- Thursday, 2/3 – at Philadelphia (FSN)
- Saturday, 2/5 – vs. Detroit (FSN)
About the Author: Nashville Predators Blogger, Software Engineer (C#.NET), Novice Woodworker, Southern Cook, Husband, Father of Two. You may contact me at David.R.Singleton AT gmail.com.