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Jack Eichel’s tale of the tape

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Stats don’t necessarily meet fans’ perception

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

One of the oddest elements of this headed-to-a-tank Buffalo Sabres season has been Jack Eichel, and what to make of his performances this season.

The star forward has come in for some criticism from the eye-test fans who say that he has looked disinterested for long stretches this season. In fact, he’s been pilloried by the fancy-stats crowd too who vehemently insist that his bumper contract has been undeserved because of his lack of 5-v-5 scoring contributions.

The stats above seem to be telling a different narrative though. However, so as to not cherry-pick data, let’s step back and take a look at the overall picture.

Eichel has played in 28 games this season, averaging 20:30 TOI/GP, up from 19:07 (2015-16) and 19:55 (2016-17). His scoring clip (all situations) is at 0.78 P/GP, from 0.69 (2015-16) and 0.93 (2016-17).

Jack has 22 points, and interestingly, 21 of those are either goals or primary assists, a ratio simply unmatched at that level. His 16 5-v-5 points are all primary points, as in, he’s either scored the goal or provided the last assist before the goal.

There is one big, big difference this season though - Eich had 24 power play points in 61 games in a sizzling power play unit last season, while he has a sum total of 1 (one, uno, un, eins, unus, odin, yksi) on the power play this season.

One can only assume that this shocking disparity on the power play will be remedied as the season goes on, but for now, there are some safe conclusions that I can draw, though I would welcome opinions from those more statistically-inclined and better-hockey-brains.

  • Eichel is simply not getting enough support from Sabres not named Evander Kane. Buffalo got its first dman goal of the season just this week. Yikes.
  • The center is 33rd on the list of P/60 at 5-v-5 with 2.33 - that jumps up to 8th on the list of P1/60 at 5-v-5 (primary points per 60 min played).
  • In 2015-16 his P/60 at 5-v-5 was at 1.48, and in 2016-17 was 1.76 - now he’s at 2.33, and has raised his game.
  • His Corsi For has improved to 49.62%, from 46.70% (2015-16) and 47.21% (2016-17), he’s learning to play possession hockey and getting better at it.
  • Eichel’s shooting percentage has dropped slightly to 9% this year, from 10.1% (2015-16) and 9.6% (2016-17). NHL average for forwards over the last 5 years is about 10.6%, so he’s well below that.
  • Once the power play improves to even average, his scoring rate will see a corresponding rise.

There are many, many problems on the Sabres this season, but from where I stand it’s pretty safe to say that Eichel is not one of them.

Poll

What’s wrong with Jack Eichel?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    He’s doing fine, just get him some help
    (534 votes)
  • 17%
    He’ll never be Connor McDavid and I hate him
    (116 votes)
650 votes total Vote Now