As the Rangers look to move beyond the John Tortorella era and into the Alain Vigneault era, they are going to need to lean on their puck possession monsters to ensure a smooth transition into a more creative offensive flow. This means more reliance on their top offensive guys to maintain offensive pressure and keep the puck in the offensive zone. If you are unfamiliar with Corsi, read up here.
Among the forwards, we all know that Carl Hagelin is a puck possession monster, and truly jump-started the Rangers offense with his call up last season. Hagelin’s 11.73 CorsiON (Corsi/60) and 11.5 RCorsi is second on the team, but he was tops among the forwards last season. The addition of Rick Nash bumped Hagelin to second with his 12.56 CorsiON and 13.2 RCorsi. The full list (minimum of 20 games) has a few surprises, and really illustrates the struggles of Chris Kreider.
Most of these numbers shouldn’t be all that surprising. The main offensive players had solid puck possession numbers, and the guys that were given mostly defensive assignments are down towards the bottom. It is very interesting to see Brad Richards so high on the list, which does lends credence to the theory that Richards has a bounce-back year next season.
However, at the bottom of the list should shed some light on the Chris Kreider disaster that was his 2013 season. During the regular season, Kreider not only had trouble finishing offensively, but was one of the worst puck possession forwards in the league. Considering how many offensive zone starts he received (over 62%), you can see why he was sent down in the middle of the season. Darroll Powe wasn’t much better either, but at least Powe has the excuse of being used as a defensive player (41.5% OZone starts).
On defense, the Rangers found a very pleasant surprise with Anton Stralman, who was tops in both CorsiON (14.62) and RCorsi (15.8). In fact, Stralman led the team (both forwards and defense) in puck possession, although he had relatively sheltered minutes against weaker competition. As for the rest of the blue line, only Ryan McDonagh and John Moore posted positive RCorsi’s.
|Michael Del Zotto||-1.22||-7.4|
The interesting part about the table is Michael Del Zotto, who posted a negative RCorsi despite being relied upon to be the main offensive force on the blue line. Del Zotto still put up good offensive numbers, but his struggles with decision-making are showing up on the stat sheet. The other puck possession stats for the defensemen aren’t all that surprising, but it will be interesting to see how McDonagh responds next year. He has solid possession numbers, and could feasibly make the next step in his offensive development.
As with all metric-based analysis in hockey, there’s more to it than just the numbers. Those watching Brad Richards know that despite his strong numbers, he really struggled this season. The same applies to Ryane Clowe and his 7.5 RCorsi. What we can do is use these numbers to guess who will have rebounding seasons next year. As for those who had solid numbers –like Stralman– the focus will be on them looking to repeat that effort next season.