The Dallas Stars had a Mighty Duck-like transformation when the 2013-2014 season began. New coaches, new uniforms, and a new roster. Quietly doing yeoman's work for the Texas Stars and earning his depth stripes was Colton Sceviour, finally getting a sincere opportunity. He exploded onto the scene with 8 goals in 26 games, replacing the shortlived hype Alex Chiasson once generated.
Since then Sceviour has become an arbitrary, if forgotten face*. The 4th round pick from Straight Outta Canada has become the MC Wren to Dallas' N.W.A. He's not talked about much, and mostly forgotten. Is it justified? That's the question we're here to answer.
As usual, fancy stats tell us quite a bit.
Despite his limited use, he's a hell of a possession player. Production wise, he's been used like you'd want. He doesn't have elite vision, but he puts the vulcanized rubber in the basket. And with a better than average shot; a talent he put on display against the Colorado Avalanche two years ago that was a memorable goal if just for Razor's typically eccentric but fun commentary.
Possession wise, however, he's quite above average. He has a Corsi For Percentage of 54 during his last two seasons with Dallas. All the more impressive given his lack of favorable zone starts, where he's averaged starts in the offensive zone 48.5 percent over the course of two season versus the 50.2 percent of the time he spends in his own zone. Most of his teammates seemed to have 'chemistry' with him possession wise when sharing the ice for the 2014-2015 season. Micah McCurdy's spider chart gives you a good look:
Just to recap for those unfamiliar with the spider charts; all numbers are taken at 5 on 5, and they include all shot types, in addition to being score adjusted. The x-axis represents Shots for Colton's team, and the y-axis represents shots against Colton's team. The better players will be further right, and towards the bottom. Colton fits the bill of a solid depth player, only breaking character when paired with Trevor Daley and Jyrki Jokipakka. He switches to beastmode with Jordie Benn and Jason Demers.
Part of that is, I'm sure, stemming from the fact that he played a lot on the Penalty Kill in Cedar Park, so he's familiar with how to play a two-way game. In addition, he's able to play multiple positions, with experience at center in addition to right wing.
On paper, Sceviour sounds like the perfect depth player. So why is he considered so expendable?
My personal opinion is that there are two perfectly good explanations: the first is the youth revolution. Right now Sceviour probably slots into Ryan Garbutt's spot beside Antoine Roussel and Cody Eakin. But someone like Brett Ritchie alters a scenario where Sceviour gets to log Garbutt's important minutes. So would the addition of other prospects. A lot of fans want to see players like Radek Faksa and Jason Dickinson get some experience. Even if neither play a position employed by Colton, it could rearrange the deck chairs enough to force him off the roster by proxy.
The other is athlete "ageism", if you will. Sceviour is 26, with 99 games of NHL experience under his belt. For a lot of fans, there is a "if you could have peaked, you would have peaked" attitude. Sceviour's age makes it seem like he's hit his ceiling. Dallas bringing in Patrick Eaves for one more year also doesn't help Sceviour's cause.
Over the years, the 'depth player' has become a somewhat derogatory term, as if to mean "someone not good enough to play on the top two lines". There's some truth to that, but it's also reductive.
There's a broad range of players that provide "depth". Some are good on the penalty kill. Others exist below the top two lines to win faceoffs. And still others provide some finish on the 3rd or 4th line so that the offense "flows like a roll of toilet paper", to quote Razor.
Sceviour is the jack of all trades stereotype. He may be the master of none, but he's not an amateur of all trades either. He's got more value than your traditional role player so I'll speak for myself for a second and say that I hope he sticks around.