Dallas Stars 2014-15 Season Grades: Shawn Horcoff
We continue our run through the Stars individual seasons with a look at the veteran center.
Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the organization) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
Regular season statistics:
|GP||G||A||Pts||PIMs||+/-||ATOI||Corsi Rel||OZ starts|
Key Stat: 11 and 25 - This is cheating a little bit, but those are the numbers of Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie, the two rookies Horcoff took under his wing in the latter part of the season. You can say what you want about his production on the ice, his ability to play decently tough minutes and his offensive spurts, or you can take the other tactic and talk about his salary relative to role, but undoubtedly the biggest long-term impact Horcoff's season will have is the one he left on those two guys, who blossomed when playing together with him.
The Good: Building upon his playoff success last spring, Horcoff put up his most total points since 2011-12 and continued to mentor some of the Stars young players on the lower lines. His traditional and more advanced statistics both show he was well-suited for a lower-line role, though he didn't take particularly difficult minutes in the defensive zone, and he was able to come through with spurts of offense as the Stars got on track in the later parts of the season. The paring with McKenzie and Ritchie was particularly fruitful for a few weeks in the spring, but he also played with guys like Colton Sceviour, Antoine Roussel and Cody Eakin in bits and spurts. He also contributed to the penalty kill with an average of 0:53 seconds per game.
The Bad: Honestly, this depends on your expectations. As his speed diminished and he moved from a top-line role with the Edmonton Oilers to a checking-line one in Dallas, he moved away from the offensive skills that initially earned him the six-year, $33 million contract that started in the summer of 2009. There was no real way he was going to live up to that salary cap hit - which was higher than Jamie Benn - given his role and ice time. That hamstrung the Stars slightly near the start of the season, though it eased off significantly as the year rolled on. And for all the veteran presence he could bring, he wasn't a particularly effective defensive player in the toughest minutes, nor was his leadership enough to get the Stars back to the playoffs.
Bottom Line: When the Stars traded for Horcoff in the summer of 2013, it was a combination of a personnel dump for some sort of asset (the defense was already too crowded for Philip Larsen to hold onto a spot) and the acquisition of a veteran presence for a relatively young team. Horcoff's production - 49 points in 153 regular season games - never came close to living up to his $5.5 million cap hit. But his ability to step up his game in the 2014 playoffs, where he led the team in scoring, and his obvious mentorship of young players on the Stars was invaluable. Unless he's ready to hang them up, and there's no sign of that, he'll almost certainly catch on with a team for next season, albeit at a significantly lower cap hit.
Vote now: Rate Horcoff on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.
How would you rate Shawn Horcoff's 2014-15 season?