Sep 1, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
It’s Labor Day, so this seems like an appropriate time to consider hard work in hockey.
Sure, these players are all well-compensated for their efforts, but perhaps this will provide a little thematic entertainment. We took a look at the “hardest working” defensemen in this post, but now let’s consider goalies and forwards.
A few ground rules before you get too angry on your day off:
1. This is based on 2013-14 stats.
2. Quantity generally beats out quality in many cases, so players who logged 70+ games have a much better chance than someone who was injured but faced tough assignments when healthy.
3. By no means is this a comprehensive list and this isn’t meant to judge subjective things like “effort.” It’s mainly based on how a player was deployed. In other words, team styles and coaching in general made a big impact.
Got it? Let’s roll:
At this point, leaving the Los Angeles Kings’ center off any “best forward in hockey” discussion is foolish. SB Nation’s Adam Gretz does a great job summarizing his all-around brilliance:
Since the start of the 2011-12 season with Kopitar on the ice at even-strength, the Kings have attempted 60 percent of the shot attempts (the third best mark in the NHL, behind only Kopitar’s teammate Justin Williams and Bergeron) and scored more than 61 percent of the goals. He’s also averaged more than two minutes of shorthanded ice-time per game over that stretch (tops among Kings forwards) and has 53 power play points.
Much like overall shorthanded time leader Braydon Coburn, playing for the league’s most penalized team probably inflates Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier’s PK numbers … but they still tower above other forwards expected to chip in at least some offense (sorry Manny Malhotra). Couturier’s only competition in total penalty killing time among forwards was Jay McClement, but Couturier logged more than four minutes of total ice time per game than the former Toronto Maple Leafs defensive specialist, giving him more all-around duties.
(Flyers fans are justified in smiling at the fact that his cap hit will only be $1.75 million for the next two seasons.)
It’s tempting to place Patrice Bergeron here being that he’s arguably the best two-way forward in the NHL (with a handful of others making a strong argument). Just look at this chart, which is one way of showing much opposing shooters struggle to score when Bergeron’s on the ice:
So consider that a mention of sorts, but the Boston Bruins probably share the defensive burden better than most (Bergeron averaged just under two minutes of shorthanded time per game, a healthy but not outrageous average). One might look to Boston’s hated rivals in Montreal for a guy who carries a remarkable workload for a quality scorer.
Tomas Plekanec wasn’t all that great at draws, yet he won the most shorthanded faceoffs in the league for a good reason: he was on PK duty a lot. Plekanec averaged 2:57 shorthanded time per game, not all that short of Couturier’s daunting 3:25 average. On top of that, Plekanec began only 38 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, which essentially places him alongside “defensive specialists.”
His offensive output of 20 goals and 43 points looks pretty solid considering all of that heavy lifting.
While Erik Karlsson carries a staggering amount of offensive responsibilities in Ottawa, there are plenty of forwards who are expected to score on a nightly basis. Sidney Crosby was involved in 42.9 percent of the Pittsburgh Penguins 242 goals while Claude Giroux (36.9 of Philadelphia’s tallies) and Ryan Getzlaf (33 percent of Anaheim Ducks’ 263 goals) weren’t far behind. Getzlaf boasted one of the better alternate Hart arguments when you consider his 2:07 shorthanded time per game combined with his second-best scoring output.
It’s easy to see why the Colorado Avalanche’s No. 1 goalie pushed Tuukka Rask in the Vezina voting, as Varlamov was crucial to his team’s surprising season.
Varlamov easily topped all goalies in save attempts (2,013) and saves (1,867) as Kari Lehtonen came in distant second with 1,888 attempts and 1,735 saves. Varlamov’s 63 games played wasn’t short of the largest workload, finishing just two contests behind Lehtonen. All things considered, it’s really impressive that Varlamov topped all goalies with 41 wins while generating an impressive .927 save percentage.
(In case you’re wondering, Rask made 1,568 saves with an outstanding .930 save percentage.)
With a nod to Ryan Miller absorbing buckets of shots in Buffalo, it’s hard to make an argument for any goalie’s job being tougher than Varlamov’s last season. Should the Avs be worried about the goaltending equivalent of the NFL running back “Curse of 370,” then?
Maybe even more than the defensemen list, omissions are likely here in part for space reasons (Ryan Kesler‘s an honorable mention, for one). Feel free to add some names to consider in the comments, then.
May 29, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT
Appeared in just 33 games this season.
May 29, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT
“I don’t feel any tingling or soreness.”
May 29, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
NHL Central Scouting thinks slightly more of the B.C. defender.
May 29, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT
Spent the past five seasons in the KHL.
May 29, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT
That’s former NHL defenseman and current AHL Binghamton bench boss Luke Richardson.
May 29, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT
This according to his club team, Avangard Omsk.
May 29, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT
How does it compare to past promos?
May 29, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
“The last two years, we were a different team.”
May 29, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT
Well-traveled journeyman played big minutes for AHL Charlotte last season.
May 29, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT
Wes McCauley and Kevin Pollock, who have a fair bit of history working these types of games.
May 29, 2015, 10:57 AM EDT
Moving to Iserlohn after a tumultuous 2014-15 campaign.
May 29, 2015, 10:37 AM EDT
One year, two-way deal.
May 29, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT
Draft picks to hire other team’s fired employees has rapidly become the standard.
May 29, 2015, 9:14 AM EDT
Detroit wants to keep Tony Granato.
May 29, 2015, 8:25 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
May 28, 2015, 11:16 PM EDT
“They need to hear our anthem, that’s a part of losing.”
May 28, 2015, 10:02 PM EDT
Sharp says Blackhawks are ready for “whatever [the Ducks] throw at us.”
May 28, 2015, 8:58 PM EDT
Victor Hedman: “We’re prepared for this.”
May 28, 2015, 7:47 PM EDT
Retirement remains a possibility, and it might be his call.
May 28, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT
Even their first names are similar (Jordan and Jaden). Fun times ahead …
- The Ducks got Kesler for a game like Saturday’s 16
- Your Lightning-Rangers Game 7 officials are… 1
- Duchene slams Russian players for storming off after Canada’s 2015 WHC win 48
- DeBoer predicts ‘big bounce-back’ in San Jose 12
- Sabres name Bylsma head coach 45
- Lundqvist on Game 7: ‘You’re definitely nervous, but it comes down to teamwork’ 16
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue 56
- Stanley Cup Final to begin June 3 9
- Caps’ Backstrom undergoes arthroscopic hip surgery 6
- Report: Sens’ Murray to retire after next season 1
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue (56)
- On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’ (54)
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL (53)