The success of Cody Eakin and Tomas Vincour as a duo this season has been a pleasant story in an otherwise constant beat down of hockey-related news. Their early success got me to start thinking about how sustainable it really is.
The AHL doesn't post much data (like time on ice, or differentiation between even strength and special teams production), but they at least post shots and shooting percentage. I decided to take a gander at how the Baby Stars are doing. Come to find out, Cam Barker is somehow leading the team in shots as of Wednesday 11/21. He has almost twice as many shots as any other defender on the roster. The full list is below and sorted by shots per game:
*Note* Numbers are as of 11/21, although Barker is still leading the Stars in SOG with 53 as of 11/26.
The Cam Barker thing really caught me off guard. One theory out there came from Neal Livingston of Copper And Blue. The Stars don't really have that dominant offensive force up front so someone has to take the shots. I can buy that to an extent. 44 shots is still a ridiculously large total for a defender over 13 games. This is where a breakdown of powerplay shots vs. even strength shots would come in handy.
They also don't have much offensively on the blueline. Brendan Dillon, Jamie Oleksiak, and Patrik Nemeth are all going to make it based on their defensive ability. Reports suggest that Oleksiak is joining the rush more often and aggressively pinching in, but thus far that hasn't translated to much offensively with 11 shots in 13 games.
Another aspect that comes to mind is how the Stars relied on Sheldon Souray to chuck bombs from the point early on last season. He racked up a ton of shots, but it was rare that much offense was generated when he shot. I could be wrong, but just thinking out loud here that situation seems plausible.
Some final thoughts:
* Matt Fraser is still throwing the puck at the net at a steady rate. He leads Texas skaters not named Cam Barker with 42 shots. In six games Colton Sceviour has taken 17 shots for close to three a game. Both Eakin and Vincour are right on his heels. It's interesting to me that the guys with the best defensive reputations are leading the way in shots generated. That has to be a good sign for the Stars when the lockout ends...right?
* Eakin and Reilly Smith are two interesting cases to consider. They've seen their stocks drift in opposite directions since the season began, but should much have changed? Both are generating over two shots per game. The difference thus far is in the shooting percentages. Eakin is cruising along at 18%. Reilly is sitting at 0%. Neither situation is very likely to continue. The bottom line is that both are generating shots. As long as they're generating offense optimism should remain relatively equal for both players.
* Tomas Vincour is scoring goals. He had some awful luck at times last season while playing with some mediocre offensive talent. While playing with legitimate offensive talent in the AHL (and getting minutes) he's producing. His shooting percentage is sitting a hair under ten after being around 6 last year. Another consideration is that he's probably playing against better talent this year in the AHL than he did last year in his fourth line minutes in the NHL.
He has the talent to be a valuable member of an NHL roster. He just turned 22 on November 19th.
* And, finally, Scott Glennie. Three shots in five games isn't impressive, but the simple fact is that we don't have ice time data available for AHL games. The same problem arises when trying to reflect on the start Alex Chiasson has had. Both guys have played down the lineup. It's hard to really know what they've done other than making note of the fact that they haven't been given much responsibility.