Friday, September 15, 2017

Eggplant Emoji Analysis From Day One Of Flyers Camp

First of all, Adam, please don't tell me how emotional I'm allowed to get during training camp. If I want to cum in my own pants over a bunch of practice lines that are all going to be shuffled every day for the next two weeks, then I'm going to cum in my goddamn pants.

Plus, this is just a ton of fun. Let's break those forward line combinations down and grade them from "Yes, those are three names" to "The aforementioned cumming in the pants".

Zero Eggplants

These lines, while they are made up of players that are technically our babies (and will hopefully be Flyers one day), are probably on their way out of Vorhees soon. Some of them will head an hour north to Allentown, and some will head multiple hours north to Canadian Juniors, but we will see them all again next year.

(edited to include) AubeKubel-Varone-Bunnaman

There isn't too much to say about these, but I did want to quickly mention that Vorobyev, Leier, and NAK should hopefully see a cup of coffee apiece this season.

One Eggplant

I try to see the positives in all of the Flyers players - even the haters and losers. I don't consider these trios to be kept together for the season, and if they are I will probably get mad online about them. But still... hockey is back and the blood is flowing!


Sure, these three should probably fall more into the previous group because they're all heading back to minors and/or juniors for this season, but Rubtsov's development this season will be incredibly fun to watch. And Kosorenkov has almost certainly done enough to lock up an entry-level contract.


These three are all very 'meh', but I find it interesting that they are using Filppula as a pivot. It seems like the Flyers had five NHL-caliber centers in camp today (Giroux, Couturier, Patrick, Laughton, and Filppula) with Mike Vecchione lurking somewhere. 


If you have not already read Charlie O'Connor's piece for The Athletic about Matt Read, I would encourage you to do that immediately. I'm rooting for Read to take hold of a fourth line wing spot and a huge penalty kill responsibility. Perhaps that fourth line would also feature Laughton and Raffl, though I personally believe that Raffl's complementary attributes would work better along more highly-skilled players. 

Two Eggplants

Okay baby, now we're talking. Two eggplants is a lot - and it's supposed to be. I'm feeling the blood flow, and I'd be perfectly fine with seeing these trios during a real life NHL game. Throw them on the whiteboard right now and I'm game. I hope these guys stay together all season and each provide a hundred and fifty points over the course of the year.

I'm serious - pencil these nine in as the top three lines on opening night. G'head.


Those are three legitimate NHL-caliber top-nine lines. If you swap Weise and Raffl (which I would), then you have three lines that are arguably top-six caliber and an above-average fourth line. Maybe Filppula and/or Lehtera can win a spot away from somebody, but the realization just hit me that the Flyers should be VERY GOOD this season.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Flyers-Islanders Rookie Game Preview

Hockey is back! It's cold enough to wear pants, there is ice on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center, and players who make a shit-ton of money are practicing at the Skate Zone in Vorhees.

The rookie camp-training camp week feels like the real start of the season. Especially consider the Flyers' DEEP prospect pool, the fact that these games don't count doesn't matter in the slightest. We get to watch our boys (and some of them are actually boys) and that is a beautiful thing.

Tonight's Flyers-Islanders rookie game should be a good one, in that it features two teams whose fans believe they have among the best prospect pools in the league. For what it's worth, two of the top three comments on THIS random Reddit post mention the Flyers and Isles.

Of course, we know everyone who will be wearing orange tonight. We do not, however, know who is going to be playing with who(m) tonight. We'll reference some trios and pairs from rookie camp to try to project who might get matched up.

And then I don't know a goddamn thing about the Islanders prospect pipeline. So I wanted to do a bit of research as a primer for tonight.

Combinations Of Baby Flyers That Might Happen

Your Boy Dave Isaac tweeted out the lines from the first two days of rookie camp. Here's the forwards from day one:

  • Bunnaman-Patrick-Salinitri
  • Lindblom-Laberge-Rubtsov
  • Twarynski-Vorobyev-Kosorenkov
  • Ratcliffe-Frost-Strome/Sushko
  • AubeKubel-Vecchione-Fazleev
And then day two:
  • Kosorenkov-Vorobyev-Salinitri
  • Lindblom-Laberge-Rubtsov
  • Ratcliffe-Frost-Strome/Sushko
  • Bunnaman-Patrick-AubeKubel
  • Twarynski-Vecchione-Fazleev
And, hot off the press, day three:

  • Lindblom-Laberge-Rubtsov
  • Twarynski-Vorobyev-Kosorenkov
  • Bunnaman-Patrick-Sushko
  • Salinitri-Vecchione-Fazleev
  • Ratcliffe-Frost-Strome

My thoughts:

  • Lindblom-Laberge-Rubtsov OH MY GOD!! Over/under 9.5 points from that trio tonight?
  • Patrick being stapled to Bunnaman is a good move in my mind. Patrick can be the playmaker and Bunnaman can be the scorer. If Sushko is indeed their third tonight, he'll be half-playmaker and half-shooter. I like it. 
  • Aube-Kubel, Veccione, Fazleev is probably a Phantoms line next season.
  • Props to Anthony Salinitri, who has been deemed good enough to play alongside Patrick and AHL-caliber players. Similar props to Carsen Twarynski. 
  • I hope Ivan Kosorenkov kills it and signs an ELC next week. 
  • Ratcliffe-Frost-Strome. Babies!

Islanders Prospects That Are Going To Be Good In The Future At Some Point

I'll try to pick some brief scouting reports from around the internet, and I'll aim especially for (1) buzzwords that don't really mean anything and (2) NHL player comparables.

Mathew Barzal, center, drafted 16th overall in 2015
(Dobber Prospects"one of the purest puck handlers and passers of anyone in his age group...has the skills and the vision to be a deadly weapon on the powerplay, but he showed his range and creativity 5 on 5 as well...he will continue to round out his defensive game"

Kieffer Bellows, winger, drafted 19th overall in 2016
(Eyes On Isles) "Bellows said his plan is to play one season for Portland before joining the Islanders for the 2018-19 season. He’ll try to improve all areas of his game, with a focus on his skating."
(The Draft Analyst) "a well-built goal scorer with a low center of gravity who can play a punishing, heavy yet cerebral most certainly better suited as a shooter from the flank...He plays an aggressive, sometimes stubborn game, often too much for his own good. Getting whistled for bad penalties is a habit he’s had since high school"

Michael Dal Colle, winger drafted 5th overall in 2014
(Eyes On The Isles) "scouting report heading into the 2014 Draft was full of superlatives. It included skill, size, creativity, puck protection, battler, as well as hard working and intangibles...Islander fans shouldn’t give up on Dal Colle"

Joshua Ho-Sang, winger, drafted 28th overall in 2014
(Eliteprospects"Ho-Sang often turns heads with his ability to handle the puck with ease in the offensive zone. He has speed and great offensive instincts but needs to work on his game outside of the offensive zone."
(Sportsnet"Josh Ho-Sang forgot to set an alarm. That is why he was late for Day 1 of New York Islanders training camp"

Mitchell Vande Sompel, defenseman, drafted in the 3rd round in 2015
(Lighthouse Hockey) "What Mitchell Vande Sompel lacks in size he boasts in all-zone hockey intelligence. He has to. He's been used as both a forward and a defenseman...the allure here is how he can distribute the puck and join the rush from the blueline as an outstanding, agile skater."

Parker Wotherspoon, defenseman, drafted in the 4th round in 2015
(Lighthouse Hockey) "he became the youngest Sound Tiger ever at age 18 - his coach said "I thought he was confident. He was poised with the puck. He made really good puck decisions. He had really good battle. His hockey IQ: He was ready to play. He understood where to be on the ice."
Here are some more great Hockey Quotes from that article:
  • When you watch Parker Wotherspoon, you notice him.
  • He skates well. He jumps in the play well. Oh, and he defends well. We're excited about him.
  • Wotherspoon has the potential to be a top 4, offensive LD who is sound defensively. 
  • The kid can skate.
  • Parker Wotherspoon improved greatly this past year on a Tri-City team that wasn't very good.
And now for some players that aren't really of the caliber of the guys above, but are worth noting anyway. I'll call them honorable mentions (possibly not honorable):

Sebastian Aho - This is not the actual Sebastian Aho (the good one plays for Carolina).

Devon Toews - He is not related to Top 100 All-Time NHL Player Jonathan Toews.

Matthew Gaudreau - Johnny's younger brother. He is also from New Jersey just like his older brother; did people know that Johnny Gaudreau is from New Jersey?

John Stevens - Son of coach John Stevens, who played for (and coached) the Flyers.

David Quenneville - His brother John (Devils) is the good one. His cousin Joel (Maple Leafs) is also good. David (Islanders) and Peter (Blue Jackets) are the "shitty" ones, but in this family that means they were only seventh-round picks.

And then this guy: Mitch Gillam - He played at Cornell (it's an Ivy League school in case you were not aware), and he posted save percentages between .914 and .927 (and goals against averages of 1.99 to 2.49) over his four years. Then he made the jump to the ECHL Solar Bears for a cup of coffee last year and immediately posted a .833 save percentage and a 6.34 goals against average.

(Eamon McAdam - the other goalie for the Isles in this game - seems actually good though, so it's not going to be all fun and games and offense)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

You Need Five Top-Six-Caliber Wingers In Today's NHL

It's almost hockey season, which means it's almost the time of year where I see a random tweet and spiral downward into a place where I try to convince myself that the Flyers are actually good.

Today's entry comes from the newest member of The Athletic Philly (I think), Englishman (I think) Alexander Appleyard:
So, let's jump right the fuck in and see how close the Flyers are to this level.

Top Six Centers

I think the majority of Flyers Twitter is in agreement about the guys who are going to be anchoring our lines for the next few years. In order from oldest to youngest, it's Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, and Nolan Patrick.

Perhaps someone might make a case for German Rubtsov, Morgan Frost, or Pascal Laberge stealing one of those spots in 2-3 years, but for now I think we should just focus on Giroux, Couturier, Laughton, and Patrick.

We need one center to score 70+ points and another to score around 50. Giroux hasn't scored more than 70 since 2014-15, and he finished last season with just 58 points in a full 82-game season. In Giroux's defense (I'll keep it short, there are plenty of deep dives elsewhere), his career-low shooting percentage last season cost him about 7 goals and the team's poor shooting percentage probably cost him at least that many points.

Hot take: Claude Giroux is our best bet to score 76 points next season.

Here's another take, in case you're really looking to get hot: Sean Couturier is the guy who's going to score 49 points next year. He scored 34 in 66 games last season (a pace of 42-ish over a full season), and he's going to almost certainly get an upgrade in wingers and defensemen this season. Yes, Couturier spent quite a bit of time between Travis Konecny and Jake Voracek last year, but he also spent quite a bit with Matt Read, Nick Cousins, and Dale Weise on his flanks.

Bottom Six Centers

With decent (or even just better-than-replacement-level) wingers, I have no doubt that Patrick and Laughton can get us to the 28- and 23-point thresholds in Alexander's tweet. Moving on!


We know the names here - Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Valtteri Filppula, Jordan Weal, Jori Lehtera, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Dale Weise.

I think it's easiest to start by trying to box some guys in as fourth-liners in the 17-23 point range. That would include two of these:

  • Weise (topped out at 29 and 27 points two and three seasons ago)
  • Read (steadily declining with 40-30-26-19 points over the last four years)
  • Lehtera (44-34-22 over the past three years despite his being stapled to Vladimir Tarasenko's hip)
  • Raffl (great complimentary piece but probably maxed out at 31 points in 2015-16)
Let's just move our way up the lineup card to the third line. These two are probably the hardest to project out of the whole roster, but this is a wide enough window that I think we can get away with it. These would be players who are 40-point wingers in a good season and 29-point wingers in a bad season:
  • Lindblom (47 points in 52 games plus 14 points in 20 playoff games last year in the SHL, which is the third- or fourth-best league in the world - I think this level offers a reasonable window for him to try to reach)
  • Weal (I believe his point-per-game pace will reflect less of his 12-points-in-23-games last season and more of his 12-points-in-37-games for his career, but you never know)
And the second line-caliber guys, aiming for 52 and 44 points:
  • Filppula (sneakily scores more points that I would have thought, totaling 58-48-31-42 in his seasons since he joined Tampa Bay)
  • Konecny (28 points in his rookie season, should improve and eventually get some power play production)
And, finally, the first liners. The guys at the top of the depth chart are shooting for 64 and 57 points:
  • Voracek (scored 354 points in 445 games as a Flyer, an average of 65 points per 82 games)
  • Simmonds (his full seasons in Philly have totals of 49-60-50-60-54 points)
How Good Are We?

Well, it hard to say. 

I think we have five 40-point wingers this year - Voracek, Simmonds, Filppula, Konecny, and one of Lindblom/Weal. If the other of Lindblom/Weal can't step up to replace Filppula in that group after he leaves, then it becomes a little more hairy. There are plenty of prospects in the pipeline, but it's difficult to say with any certainty that one of them is going to be ready to score 40 points in the NHL one year from now. 

But, for now, let's just enjoy the fact that the current Flyers forward group seems like it might just meet the criteria for this one small part of being a legitimate contender. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Man, I Love The Eric Lindros Trade Fiasco

The deep dive into the fabled Lindros Trade (which has its own Wikipedia page) was wonderfully done by in 2012, and then was republished last season when Lindros was inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame. It came to mind for me this week, with the news that the Flyers are going to retire his #88 into the rafters forever. 

Part three of that four-part NHL piece focuses on the complex legal situation that was a disputed trade between the Quebec, Pennsylvania, and New York franchises of an Ontario-based league. As seems to be the case in most legal battles, each organization found supporting precedents to support the ruling that would have most benefited their individual interests. 

But first, let's set the scene:

Eric Lindros was perhaps the most heralded junior-hockey player in history -- at just 18 years old, he was 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. With a blend of dominant skill and overwhelming size and strength, many had pegged him as the next great NHL superstar, following closely in the footsteps of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Taken by the Quebec Nordiques with the first pick of the 1991 NHL Draft, Lindros resisted signing with the club. He spent the 1991-92 season playing junior hockey and skating for Canada at the 1992 World Junior Championship and the 1992 Olympics. Lindros reiterated to the Nordiques that he would play outside the NHL in 1992-93 and re-enter the draft in 1993.

Faced with the possibility of losing Lindros with no compensation, the Nordiques began entertaining offers for Lindros' rights, with the culmination of that effort set for the 1992 NHL Draft in Montreal.

June 20, 1992 marked one of the stranger days in NHL history: Just prior to the start of the draft, the Nordiques twice traded Lindros' rights -- first to the Philadelphia Flyers then to the New York Rangers.

As a Flyers fan, I tend to sympathize more with the Philadelphia contingent in the story. Here's the front office's description of the day of the 1992 NHL Draft, which is the day they (thought they) completed the trade for Lindros, and then found out that Montreal yanked the rug out from under them:

Russ Farwell, Philadelphia Flyers general manager

"We thought we made the trade. We called Eric and I got in a cab and went to the draft."
"Jay called me and said, 'Aubut is backing out, he tried to trade him somewhere else,' and that's where it was. He said, 'I'm not going over [to the draft], I'm taking a car to ...,' he was going to file a grievance. In the meantime, we pulled our guys together. We thought we had traded our pick so we pulled our guys together and said we had to pick."

Jay Snider, Philadelphia Flyers president
"I was just pretty much in shock. I didn't know how to react. This was crazy. I called my dad [Flyers owner Ed Snider] and I said, 'You're not going to believe this -- Marcel said, I traded him to the Rangers.' Just like that, happy as could be, typical Marcel Aubut. … Our first reaction was, 'You know what? Screw it, this deal is too much and to hell with it at this point, let's just let it go.' And then I don't know if it was that conversation or he called back five minutes later, but he said, 'Before we do that, go talk to Gil Stein,' League's general counsel, 'and find out what our rights are.' I went to the draft floor, sought out Gil, explained our situation, Gil said, 'Let's get John [Ziegler, NHL president].' We go into a back room, talk about the situation and he said, 'Jay, you can arbitrate this.' I said, 'OK I'm arbitrating this -- what do I do?'"

Jim Gregory, NHL vice president of hockey operations

"[Ziegler and Stein] asked me a couple questions, but nothing serious. I just told them that Larry Bertuzzi, who was doing work for the NHL, was an unbelievable lawyer, had a perception about hockey, and would be a good man. They listened."

..And so it began. Bertuzzi was to arbitrate the matter, in Montreal because the entire league was already there for the draft. Lindros was poised to be a generational talent, a player that Philadelphia and New York would both love to add to their organization for the next two decades. Montreal was going to receive a haul either way, but their 'individual interest' (as I worded it) was to bring back as much talent and assets as possible. 

Jay Snider, Philadelphia Flyers president

"It was very hostile up there, because in essence Lindros was snubbing French Canada -- I couldn't find a law firm in Quebec to work for me. Not one. I went to probably five top firms and they all refused to take it."

"[Nordiques owner Marcel] Aubut brought in a major firm, and the head of the firm had been the ambassador to the United Nations, a member of the Royal Order of Canada.

"[Chicago Blackhawks owner] Bill Wirtz lent us his attorney [Gene Gozdecki], who was there as an alternate governor for the Board of Governors meeting. He started the first day representing us in the first hearing."

This is my second-favorite part of this whole story. Lindros had refused to play in Quebec, and EVERY LAW FIRM IN QUEBEC refused to represent anything that remotely involved his interests. It's like how a small Texas town treats its football players, but it was the second-largest province in Canada with something like 8 million residents. It was something like the entire state of Virginia, and not a single big-time lawyer would support any party not named the Quebec Nordiques. 

And the guy who ended up representing the Nordiques was a UN Ambassador and had received 'The highest degree of merit, for an outstanding level of talent and service or an exceptional contribution to Canada and humanity.' Picture Charlie Kelly going toe-to-toe with Harvey Specter on any legal topic other than bird law. 

Let's jump to Larry Bertuzzi (uncle of Todd), who was a Toronto lawyer with quite a bit of NHL experience.

Larry Bertuzzi, arbitrator

"I show up in Montreal on Sunday morning, I'm introduced to all the parties. I make a few inquiries -- tell me everything that's on the books on how to deal with this matter. Tell me everything that's on the books about what makes a trade, how this dispute is to be resolved. Give me all the guidelines that are already in place. They handed me a two-line piece of paper. And it said -- I'll paraphrase it -- when there's a dispute involving whether or not a trade took place, the dispute shall be handled by the president of the League or at the consent of the parties by an arbitrator. Period. Full stop. That was it."

(Quick spoiler: whether or not the three teams consented, the NHL was always going to endorse him as arbitrator. So that little two-line piece of paper ended up meaning that he was totally FUCKED for the next week or so.)

"There are three parties, there's about 12 lawyers and I look around and we have people representing legal jurisdictions of Ontario and Quebec in Canada, New York, Philadelphia and Illinois in the States. And I realize that there is absolutely no legal procedure which governs the proceedings. So I effectively put the challenge to the counsel and, 'I need you to tell me what the question is you want me to answer and how you're framing it and I want to see if the three parties can come up with a process by which we might get to the bottom of this.'

"I get a call about 5 o'clock [Sunday] from Snider and Weinberg and I go down there and they said, 'We're going home.' I said, 'What? You're going home?' They said, 'Look at this piece of garbage that they gave us.' Sure enough Quebec and New York had written a very one-sided-looking document and Philly said, 'We're not taking this.'

"I had breakfast with the NHL [Monday morning] and I said if they don't agree to me as arbitrator consensually, what are you going to do? Ziegler said, 'I'm going to appoint you so it's out of their hands.' I said, 'Fine, that's all the jurisdictional backing I need.' I went in at 9 o'clock and I said, 'Gentlemen I've given you six, seven, eight, nine hours to come up with a process. You failed miserably. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to adjourn for two hours and I'm going to write out the process myself. And I'm going to then hand it out to you and you have two choices: You can like it and we'll proceed or you can hate it and we'll proceed nonetheless.'"

Jay Snider, Philadelphia Flyers president

"Bertuzzi said this is going to be kind of based on common sense and law and the NHL rules. It's based on an amalgam of law. Because in Quebec the law is a little different than the rest of Canada. It's like Louisiana in the U.S. -- it's more based on a French system. There's nuance. He just said it's not going to be based on one jurisdiction of law; it's going to be based on common sense in a way."

This is the single most interesting thing for me about this whole ordeal. Bertuzzi essentially had to invent a legal code for handling this situation that factored in two separate Canadian provinces (with vastly different heritages) and three separate US states. 

It must have been a complete pain in the ass to create, but this was a one-time set of guidelines that will probably quite literally never apply to any situation ever again for the rest of time. It's tough to find anything about Bertuzzi on the internet that isn't about this case or his relationship to Todd, but I would be willing to be that this was a highlight-of-the-career type of opportunity.

Larry Bertuzzi, arbitrator

"The hearing went for five or six days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. It finished at about 6 a.m. Saturday morning.

"I was making it up as I went along. And I had no one to consult. And it was highly secretive and it was both the most challenging thing I ever did and one of the loneliest legal things I ever did. I had an attaché from the League who became a good friend, Benny Eroclani. I had a security guy from the League who I spent all my off hours with. I wasn't lonely in that sense -- I had people to eat with. But from a pure running-the-case perspective, there was a room full of lawyers and a room full of executives and there was little old me at the front. I was in charge of making all the rules, but I was on my own."

"During those six days we had nothing but bumps and bruises along the way. We had objections and I'd say, 'What's your objection?' and they'd say, 'That's not the way we do it in Pennsylvania.' Someone else would say, 'That's not the way we do it in New York,' and someone else would say, 'That's the way we do it in Quebec, that's the way we do it in Illinois.' Back and forth, stuff like that.

"We had a request to subpoena the Lindroses, except I had no subpoena power. I had to get on the phone with the Lindros' lawyer and negotiate their attendance. So when they showed up they had their own lawyer. We had to navigate the press every day. We had a press blackout, but since the NHL's annual meeting was on, maybe 20 of the press stayed all week and hung outside the room.

What a fucking MESS this must have been.

Jay Snider, Philadelphia Flyers president

"It was horrendous. It was one of the most stressful periods in my life."

Jay Snider, Philadelphia Flyers president

"I remember on the last day, before final arguments, Phil [Weinberg]said, 'I need to be alone.' Phil had to figure out basic law and he came up with the basic principle that the existence of a contract is from offer to counteroffer to acceptance. If you look at the decision, it came down to the fact that Aubut's call to me and giving me permission to talk to Lindros was the indication that a contract had been reached. At the very basis of it all, that's an accepted principle in law in all jurisdictions. It indicated that a valid agreement had been reached."

Phil Weinberg, Philadelphia Flyers lawyer

"What I was trying to argue was that's what makes a contract. In the simplest terms a contract is formed when there's an offer and it's accepted. Acceptance can occur in a number of ways. It can occur in writing, it can occur through action -- in any way that the parties manifest that they have accepted the offer. That's sort of hornbook law about what makes a contract. There's a little bit of discrepancy in the law of the United States and the law of Canada as to how can that acceptance be manifested. In the United States, it has to be ... there's an objective theory of contract formation and a subjective theory of contract formation. The objective theory is, what would the outside person looking at things determine as to whether there had been an acceptance of an offer. And a subjective theory isn't so much what an outside observer would think, it's more what you think in your own mind, the accepting party, as to whether you've accepted the terms of the offer or not. The European common law that runs through Canadian jurisprudence a little bit more is this subjective theory. And the American theory is the objective theory.

"What I was able to argue is that by all outward manifestations, Marcel Aubut, who was the person accepting our offer, indicated his consent, indicated his acceptance, because there was this term ... one of the things that happened in the arbitration was that we had wanted to talk to Lindros to see if he'd sign with us. And Aubut had said somewhere along the way that if he gave us the number then we had a deal. He did in fact give Jay the number at some point for Lindros so that we could talk to him and see if he would play in Philly. We used that fact.

"What I was able to do was argue that Aubut in the Canadian way of thinking about contract formation, probably in his own mind, didn't even really know he had made a contract because it was more subjective to his own way of thinking. He, in his own head, was playing out this auction but holding back in his mind the ultimate assent to the offer, the ultimate agreement or acceptance. But that doesn't matter because the rule of law that should be applied is the objective theory. Any outsider, any third party, anybody looking at his conduct, would believe a contract would be formed because we can't go into the mind of somebody to really understand what they're thinking. Which is why we ascribe to this objective theory. Once he met the last term of our offer, which was, give us Lindros' number to see if he wants to play in Philly, then he had accepted all of the terms by an objective theory. It didn't really matter what he was thinking about anything. I think that's what I was really trying to stress."

Phil Weinberg has been General Counsel for the Comcast/Spectacor company since it was created in 1996. Knowing what we know about Ed Snider and the Comcast-Flyers family in general, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that his brilliant handling of the Lindros situation earned him that position for life. 

Larry Bertuzzi, arbitrator

"I phoned the NHL on Monday and told them I had my decision ready to go because I worked all day Sunday on it. They said, 'We don't want you to release it now; we want you to release it on national TV.' So we had this major extravaganza where at 9 o'clock I had a conference call involving all the clubs and read my decision. And then at 10 o'clock, on a conference call with more than 100 participants, I read the decision on national TV, on TSN and on the radio. And then we had this monster press conference."

"The case turned on the following: If New York and Quebec agree they made a deal on the basis of the conduct they engaged in, then applying that same test to the Quebec-Philly discussions, they must have made a deal an hour earlier."

As it turned out, the question that Bertuzzi had in mind with his 'I need you to tell me what the question is you want me to answer' quote was just simply 'Did the Nordiques trade Lindros to the Flyers?'

And, as it turned out, the answer was yes. Maybe Marcel Aubut honestly didn't realize what was happening. Maybe he was being a snake and trying to fuck over the Flyers. Maybe the legal mindsets that have developed over hundreds of years based on French, British, and American principles are just fundamentally different and shit like this happens. 

Whichever way you want to look at it, it's one of the (if not the singular) most entertaining sports law stories of recent history. 

And there's a great happy ending quote from Farwell:

Russ Farwell, Philadelphia Flyers general manager
"I remember our staff a week or two after saying we announced that signing, we sold more season tickets than they did after they won the Stanley Cup."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Top 25 Under 25 Chart

As Broad Street Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 countdown rolls on - today's entry is Robert Hagg - the conversation seems to focus more on the debate between future potential and immediate impact.

Take Hagg, for example: he'll likely play in the NHL this season, but his upside is decidedly lower than Philippe Myers (who is more of a longshot to make the big club this year). Myers will finish higher in the rankings, as he has not appeared in the countdown yet, but there is something to be said for the fact that Hagg is already NHL-ready.

In my initial Top 25 Under 25 list, I generally favored NHL-readiness over long-term potential. I think the best representation of this fact was my placement of Mike Vecchione and Taylor Leier above first-round picks German Rubtsov and Morgan Frost. The latter pair will almost certainly leave the former pair in the dust if they reach their potential, but Vecchione and Leier will likely contribute (at least sparingly) this season.

So, because I have all the time in the world to kill, I'm going to try to reconcile my less-than-concrete logic and place everyone together in a two-dimensional chart.

Basic Framework

I'm going to rank each side of the chart on a scale of 1-5. Here is how I intend those to work (but I haven't started ranking yet, so this is all subject to change).

2017-18 Contributions

  • 5 - Cornerstone player for the Flyers
  • 4 - Will make the team and play the entire season in the NHL
  • 3 - Not a lock to make the team, but probably will spend the year with the Flyers
  • 2 - Probably will only see time as an injury fill-in
  • 1 - I'll be shocked if he plays a game in the NHL
Future Potential
  • 5 - Perennial All-Star
  • 4 - Key contributor at the NHL level for a decade
  • 3 - Solid contributor for a long time
  • 2 - Journeyman
  • 1 - Might have a few good seasons
  • 0 - Zac Rinaldo
And, with that in mind, let's rank some guys. 

There is a lot of grouping, because I am just one person and my general thought process was something along the lines of "there are going to be a lot of guys who are either in juniors or on the Phantoms this season."

It's a little easier to compare when I add in diagonal gridlines:

Here's how that translates into my revised Top 25 Under 25:
  1. Ivan Provorov
  2. Sean Couturier
  3. Shayne Gostisbehere
  4. Nolan Patrick
  5. Travis Konecny
  6. Oskar Lindblom
  7. Travis Sanheim
  8. Sam Morin
  9. Robert Hagg
  10. Philippe Myers
  11. Scott Laughton
  12. Carter Hart
  13. Felix Sandstrom
  14. Taylor Leier
  15. Mike Vecchione
  16. Wade Allison
  17. Isaac Ratcliffe
  18. German Rubtsov
  19. Nicolas Aube-Kubel
  20. Anthony Stolarz
  21. Pascal Laberge
  22. Mikhail Vorobyov
  23. Morgan Frost
  24. Matt Strome
  25. Alex Lyon
And my honorable mentions would be Mark Friedman, Radel Fazleev, and Connor Bunnaman. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My Flyers Top 25 Under 25 Ballot

Two weeks ago, I tweeted that Development Camp is my favorite part of the hockey season. That might have just been an exaggeration due to the mid-July sports lull, but the ability to watch the future of the organization is always interesting and rewarding. Rookie camp in September (and then actual training camp after that) are also must-views for any Flyers fan. 

A related semi-annual must-view for Flyers fans is Broad Street Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 feature. At every offseason and midseason, the site's writers and readers rank the Flyers young talent and prospect pool. It's been an especially interesting ride over the past three years, where the organization has improved from a dready prospect pool to arguably the best in the entire NHL. They have high-end prospects and deep pools of lottery tickets across all three positions.

Here is how I ranked my T25U25 in February, about halfway through last season:
  1. Sean Couturier
  2. Ivan Provorov
  3. Travis Konecny
  4. Shayne Gostisbehere
  5. Travis Sanheim
  6. Nick Cousins
  7. Oskar Lindblom
  8. Sam Morin
  9. Phil Myers
  10. Scott Laughton
  11. Taylor Leier
  12. Jordan Weal
  13. Anthony Stolarz
  14. Robert Hagg
  15. German Rubtsov
  16. Nicolas Aube-Kubel
  17. Davis Kase
  18. Mikhail Vorobyov
  19. Pascal Laberge
  20. Wade Allison
  21. Radel Fazleev
  22. Carter Hart
  23. Alex Lyon
  24. Felix Sandstrom
  25. Tyrell Goulbourne
Cousins was traded, Weal is no longer under 25, and there were nine draftees added to the mix last month. This list will likely get shaken up quite a bit. 

Without further adieu, here's my preseason list for 2017-18.

1. Sean Couturier
2. Ivan Provorov
3. Shayne Gostisbehere
4. Travis Konecny

We all know (and love) these four, and it's never a bad thing to have a young core like this featuring a stud defensive center, a stud defenseman, an electric offensive defenseman, and an electric playmaking winger. 

5. Scott Laughton

Laughton, in the final BSH rankings, is probably going to have the widest range of any of the players who have NHL games under their belt. He was protected in the expansion draft, demonstrating the organization's opinion of him, but he's never really had a breakout at the NHL level. Personally, I think the flexibility to move between center and wing combined with his all-around type of skillset means it's going to happen at some point. 

6. Travis Sanheim
7. Sam Morin
8. Phil Myers
9. Robert Hagg

You can mix these four up any way you'd like. For me, the order at this point in time is not indicative of how likely I think they are to make the team this season. I expect Sanheim to return to the Phantoms and play top-pair minutes (plus a ton of power play minutes). I expect Myers to join him on the Phantoms and take an intermediate step between juniors and the NHL. I expect Morin and Hagg to make the Flyers, and (of course) I expect Flyers Twitter to melt down every time either one of them makes a mistake. 

10. Oskar Lindblom
11. Nolan Patrick

If both of these two contribute in any significant way this season, the Flyers will be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. If one of them does, they'll be a playoff team. If neither Lindblom nor Patrick is able to make the team or they perform at a lower level than we expect of them, then it might be another long season in Philadelphia. 

12. Mike Vecchione

I'll like Charlie O'Connor take this one, via his Development Camp Observations
Considering the fact that Mike Vecchione is six years older than the youngest players at this development camp, it’s fair to say that he should appear head-and-shoulders above his peers. But a player still has to go out there and legitimately look that good, which Vecchione did with ease this weekend. He was one of the best skaters at the camp, and also had one of the better shots. As for physicality, despite not being an especially big player, his functional strength was obvious. This is a polished hockey player who knows the tricks of the trade, from disguising his intentions pre-shot, to getting off decent chances even with a defenseman hanging all over him. I’m not sure what his ceiling truly is, but it was clear that Vecchione was too good for this camp.
13. Taylor Leier
14. Mikhail Vorobyov
15. Radel Fazleev
16. German Rubtsov
17. Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Of these five who project to probably be Phantoms (sans Rubtsov, who is too young), Leier's probably the most likely to see NHL minutes this season. But I was very impressed by the Russians at development camp, and I would not have any problem with plugging any of these five into a Flyers lineup this season. That's impressive, considering we're now at 17 players under the age of 25 who could be considered NHL-ready. 

18. Mark Friedman

I'll defer to Charlie again:
This was Mark Friedman’s fourth development camp, and the fourth time that saw him treat every drill as if it would decide the fate of his career. The 21-year old blueliner was a menace, showcasing expert pokechecking to disrupt forwards and surprising strength to separate them from the puck.Every year, Friedman dominates in these drills. It’s tough to know if it’s just because he takes them more seriously than anyone else at camp, or if he’s simply that good. My guess is that he approaches these camps with a major chip on his shoulder, trying to ward off the “he’s too small!” tag and to make a name for himself in an organization that has at least six defensemen under the age of 25 above him on the depth chart. All I know is that his compete level always stands out, and yet again, he looked the part of a blue chip prospect in the on-ice portion of development camp. I’m excited that now I will finally be able to watch him play meaningful hockey this year with the Phantoms and determine how much of his dominance in drills translates to games.
He's finished at Bowling Green now, and it will be interesting to see how he compares to Sanheim, Myers, TJ Brennan, and the rest of the Phantoms defensemen. 

19. Wade Allison
20. Pascal Laberge
21. Isaac Ratcliffe
These three will almost certainly not see NHL time until next year (at the very earliest) or the following (more likely, for Laberge in particular). However, you know what they've done at the college/junior level and we can project ranges for them to turn into NHL players. I rank them in this order because I think Allison's shooting ability is more valuable to the team than Laberge's balanced skill set (without any single dominant trait) and Ratcliffe's obvious need for improvement. 

22. Anthony Stolarz
23. Alex Lyon

I would have liked to see more faith in Stolarz from the front office this summer, for three reasons. First, committing 25-30 NHL games to him would have been a good way to ease him into a full-time workload. Second, I think I'm going to really hate the Elliot-Neuvirth tandem. And third, by keeping Stolarz in the AHL, it's also taking away from Alex Lyon's workload. For an organization that always seems ultra concerned with prospect development, paying a 32 year old and The Worst Goalie In The NHL Last Season to stand in the way of a 23-year-old kid just seems like bad asset management. 

24. Carter Hart
25. Felix Sandstrom

Many people are saying that Sandstrom has overtaken Hart as a prospect. But I've had Hart ranked higher since the beginning of time, and I'm certainly not going to flip-flop them now. They're at least two years away from contributing to the NHL club, so we can cross that bridge when we get to it. 

26. David Kase

He's hurt by the fact that he didn't attend development camp, and by the fact that he plays in Europe, and by the fact that he's Czech so his international teams always kind of stink. But I think he's going to be a fine player, similar to the 13-17 group, who will probably be an NHL-AHL tweener. 

27. Kirill Ustimenko

He's the Rinaldo pick. He's probably ranked too low at 27, I should have put him in the top ten. 

28. Morgan Frost

Brayden Schenn is going to score 80 points on his way to a Stanley Cup run this season, and Morgan Frost is going to turn into a bust. #ShouldOfKept

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sean Couturier Is Very Good

If you haven't been following Charlie O'Connor's season reviews on Broad Street Hockey this Spring, you absolutely should be. Today's edition was probably the most interesting yet:
In case you have never interacted with me in person or online before, I am of the belief that Sean Couturier is severely underrated by the Flyers, their fans, and the NHL community as a whole. I believe he should already be in the annual conversation for the Selke  Trophy, and it's laughable that his two highest finishes were 8th and 9th.

Charlie's post from this morning provided the underlying reason for the discrepancy between the wrong opinion (that he's overrated) and the correct opinion (underrated): Couturier excels at even strength and on the penalty kill, but lacks the raw scoring numbers that come with success on the power play.

My counter to that would be about 80-85% of hockey is played at even strength, and another 5-10% is on the penalty kill. Couturier, at worst, is an incredibly useful player for the vast majority of a hockey game.

And at best? He's among the best even-strength players in the entire NHL. Please allow me to do the professorial thing and direct you to my own work as a source:
Those numbers come from Corsica (of course). The guys ahead of Couturier in terms of xGF% are exactly who you'd expect: Hornqvist, Bergeron, Niederreiter, Marchand, Hertl, Koivu, Toffoli, Thornton, Pominville, McDavid, Hagelin, Malkin.

If we just accept that Bergeron, Marchand, Thornton, McDavid, and Malkin are five of the twenty best forwards in the league, there are two Penguins, three Wild, a Shark, and a King that are maybe scoring a bit higher than we'd expect here. Let's take a look at the HockeyViz forward networks:

  • Hornqvist plays almost all of his time with either and/or both of Crosby and Malkin
  • Hagelin either plays with Bonino and Kessel or one of Crosby/Malkin
  • Niederreiter, Koivu, and Pominville are part of Minnesota's stacked top nine, which cycles forwards around but almost always has two good-if-not-great players per line
  • Hertl plays with Thornton or Pavelski
  • Toffoli plays with Carter or Kopitar
Which leads me to where I went next after that basic tweet about Couturier's Corsica-generated stats. As good as 13th/233 in terms of Expected Goals For Percentage makes him look, I'm sure he'll look even better when we account for his usual linemates. And when we also factor in the fact that he almost always gets stuck defending the opponent's top line, he'll look like maybe the best center in the entire NHL. 

But first, here's how I accounted for teammates and competition. Corsica actually has three metrics for these already - based on ice time, Corsi, and xG. I threw out Corsi because I think it stinks, and I took averages of each player's quality of teammates and competition relative to the league averages for QoT/QoC based on ice time and expected goals. 

High Quality of Teammates

Here's the top of the list of players with the highest jQoT (or, in English, the best on-ice linemates):

Player Team  jQOT 
1 ZACH.PARISE MIN      2.696
3 PHIL.KESSEL PIT      2.536
4 ANZE.KOPITAR L.A      2.381
5 CHRIS.KUNITZ PIT      2.356
6 SIDNEY.CROSBY PIT      2.311
7 CHARLIE.COYLE MIN      2.221
8 JEFF.CARTER L.A      2.216
9 JOE.PAVELSKI S.J      2.206
10 JASON.ZUCKER MIN      2.191
11 DUSTIN.BROWN L.A      2.111
12 T.J..OSHIE WSH      2.076
13 TYLER.TOFFOLI L.A      2.076
14 DWIGHT.KING L.A/MTL      2.071
15 DAVID.PASTRNAK BOS      2.001
17 TANNER.PEARSON L.A      1.886
19 MIKE.RIBEIRO NSH      1.851
20 ALEX.STEEN STL      1.786
21 FILIP.FORSBERG NSH      1.776
23 MILAN.LUCIC L.A/EDM      1.761
24 MIKKO.KOIVU MIN      1.691
25 DAVID.KREJCI BOS      1.681
26 JAMES.NEAL NSH      1.656
27 COREY.PERRY ANA      1.631
28 NIKOLAJ.EHLERS WPG      1.626
29 TOMAS.PLEKANEC MTL      1.606
30 LEO.KOMAROV TOR      1.591

Low Quality of Teammates

And, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the guys who get stuck playing with the shittiest teammates:
Player Team  jQOT 
1 SHANE.DOAN ARI     (3.479)
2 BO.HORVAT VAN     (3.384)
3 HENRIK.SEDIN VAN     (3.354)
4 JOHN.MITCHELL COL     (3.324)
7 BLAKE.COMEAU COL     (2.839)
8 SVEN.BAERTSCHI VAN     (2.834)
9 DANIEL.SEDIN VAN     (2.764)
13 RADIM.VRBATA VAN/ARI     (2.519)
14 MATT.DUCHENE COL     (2.414)
15 TOBIAS.RIEDER ARI     (2.319)
16 MAX.DOMI ARI     (2.309)
18 TAYLOR.HALL EDM/N.J     (2.139)
19 ALEX.BURROWS VAN/OTT     (2.139)
20 CARL.SODERBERG COL     (2.119)
21 MATT.STAJAN CGY     (2.094)
23 MARK.LETESTU EDM     (2.044)
25 JOHNNY.GAUDREAU CGY     (2.039)
26 MARTIN.HANZAL ARI/MIN     (1.954)
28 JAROMIR.JAGR FLA     (1.839)
29 MICHAEL.FROLIK CGY     (1.804)
30 JAROME.IGINLA COL/L.A     (1.739)
31 JOHN.TAVARES NYI     (1.699)
It's very hard not to feel bad for Tavares and Gaudreau. At least they'll be in Toronto and Philadelphia (respectively) soon enough. 

High Quality of Competition

And now, we shift our focus to competition. Here's who has to face the toughest opponents:
Player Team jQOC
2 LEO.KOMAROV TOR      0.538
3 NAZEM.KADRI TOR      0.503
8 RYAN.KESLER ANA      0.433
10 PAUL.STASTNY STL      0.418
11 BLAKE.WHEELER WPG      0.413
12 DEREK.STEPAN NYR      0.408
14 PATRICK.KANE CHI      0.403
15 BRAD.MARCHAND BOS      0.403
16 MATT.DUCHENE COL      0.398
17 ARTEMI.PANARIN CHI      0.398
18 RYAN.O'REILLY BUF      0.393
19 JOHN.TAVARES NYI      0.378
20 SEAN.COUTURIER PHI      0.368
21 TRAVIS.ZAJAC N.J      0.363
23 DANIEL.SEDIN VAN      0.358
24 KYLE.PALMIERI N.J      0.353
26 MAX.PACIORETTY MTL      0.348
27 CLAUDE.GIROUX PHI      0.348
28 T.J..OSHIE WSH      0.338
29 ALEX.OVECHKIN WSH      0.338
30 ALEX.STEEN STL      0.328
31 HENRIK.SEDIN VAN      0.328
32 JAROMIR.JAGR FLA      0.328
33 CONNOR.MCDAVID EDM      0.323
34 JORDAN.STAAL CAR      0.318
35 MIKKO.KOIVU MIN      0.308
36 JOE.THORNTON S.J      0.303
38 RICK.NASH NYR      0.298
39 JAMIE.BENN DAL      0.288
41 SIDNEY.CROSBY PIT      0.283
Is it self-serving of me to include "Upcoming Annual Selke Finalist Sasha Barkov" and Crosby at the bottom of this list? Probably. But Couturier, if you'll notice, faces tougher competition than either of them. 

However, this certainly cements Toews, Bergeron, Backstrom, and Kesler as the guys in the "Yearly Selke Favorites Until Further Notice" group. 

Low Quality of Competition

Is anyone noteworthy going to pop up in the list of most sheltered players?

Player Team jQOC
1 CHRIS.TIERNEY S.J     (0.752)
2 MARK.LETESTU EDM     (0.702)
4 TOM.WILSON WSH     (0.672)
5 MATT.STAJAN CGY     (0.667)
7 RILEY.NASH CAR/BOS     (0.582)
8 MATT.CULLEN PIT     (0.552)
11 TREVOR.LEWIS L.A     (0.522)
12 RYAN.SPOONER BOS     (0.517)
14 NICK.BONINO PIT     (0.512)
15 BRIAN.BOYLE T.B/TOR     (0.507)
16 TORREY.MITCHELL MTL     (0.507)
18 LARS.ELLER MTL/WSH     (0.482)
21 SCOTT.HARTNELL CBJ     (0.457)
22 ERIK.HAULA MIN     (0.437)
23 DANIEL.WINNIK TOR/WSH     (0.432)
24 RILEY.SHEAHAN DET     (0.372)
25 MIKE.RIBEIRO NSH     (0.372)
26 DALE.WEISE CHI/MTL/PHI     (0.367)
27 DWIGHT.KING L.A/MTL     (0.367)
28 MATT.MOULSON BUF     (0.367)
29 JOHN.MITCHELL COL     (0.357)
NHL coaching these days seems like it's primarily just making sure your shitty players only get to play against other shitty players. 

Largest Difference Between Teammates and Competition

But what if we compare teammates and competition? Who gets stuck with easy matchups, or good teammates and bad opponents?

Player Team  jQOT  jQOC /\Qual
1 PHIL.KESSEL PIT      2.536     (0.117)      2.654
2 ZACH.PARISE MIN      2.696      0.153      2.544
3 DWIGHT.KING L.A/MTL      2.071     (0.367)      2.439
4 DUSTIN.BROWN L.A      2.111     (0.252)      2.364
5 CHRIS.KUNITZ PIT      2.356      0.043      2.314
6 CHARLIE.COYLE MIN      2.221     (0.052)      2.274
7 ANZE.KOPITAR L.A      2.381      0.128      2.254
8 MIKE.RIBEIRO NSH      1.851     (0.372)      2.224
9 NICKLAS.BACKSTROM WSH      2.631      0.448      2.184
10 JASON.ZUCKER MIN      2.191      0.028      2.164
11 JEFF.CARTER L.A      2.216      0.128      2.089
12 VIKTOR.ARVIDSSON NSH      1.926     (0.117)      2.044
13 SIDNEY.CROSBY PIT      2.311      0.283      2.029
14 NICK.BONINO PIT      1.451     (0.512)      1.964
15 TYLER.TOFFOLI L.A      2.076      0.118      1.959
16 JOE.PAVELSKI S.J      2.206      0.263      1.944
17 DAVID.PASTRNAK BOS      2.001      0.083      1.919
18 TANNER.PEARSON L.A      1.886     (0.007)      1.894
19 CALLE.JARNKROK NSH      1.521     (0.337)      1.859
20 COREY.PERRY ANA      1.631     (0.162)      1.794
21 T.J..OSHIE WSH      2.076      0.338      1.739
22 COLIN.WILSON NSH      1.426     (0.287)      1.714
23 FILIP.FORSBERG NSH      1.776      0.078      1.699
24 MILAN.LUCIC L.A/EDM      1.761      0.068      1.694
25 ANDRE.BURAKOVSKY WSH      1.151     (0.512)      1.664
26 TREVOR.LEWIS L.A      1.121     (0.522)      1.644
27 ALEX.GALCHENYUK MTL      1.446     (0.192)      1.639
28 ALEX.WENNBERG CBJ      1.566     (0.037)      1.604
29 JAMES.NEAL NSH      1.656      0.068      1.589
30 DAVID.KREJCI BOS      1.681      0.103      1.579
I have a few thoughts:
  • Good hockey players, as a function of coaching, play with good players more than they play against good players. The league averages for jQOT and jQOC are similar, even though they seem skewed in this table. Good coaches - and bad ones, I guess - play their best players in situations that will benefit the team. This chart does not mean that all of these players are actually bad. Just, you know, maybe some of them are a bit inflated by the situations in which they are placed. Like, for example...
  • Phil Kessel is probably overpaid and overrated but you are out of your goddamn mind if you think I'm ever going to go to war to defend that take.
  • Chris Kunitz is absolutely overrated and I will very happily preach that from the mountaintop. 
  • TJ Oshie is about to get paid like a man who plays with Backstrom and Ovechkin, and then he is not going to be playing with Backstrom and Ovechkin. 
  • Not a good look for David Krejci - he should be outperforming Bergeron comparatively, and I think it's safe to say that he rarely does. 
Largest Difference Between Competition and Teammates

Okay, here's the big payoff. We've worked all afternoon for this. Who gets boned the most overall?

Player Team  jQOT  jQOC /\Qual
1 HENRIK.SEDIN VAN     (3.354)      0.328     (3.681)
2 SHANE.DOAN ARI     (3.479)     (0.077)     (3.401)
3 BO.HORVAT VAN     (3.384)     (0.157)     (3.226)
4 DANIEL.SEDIN VAN     (2.764)      0.358     (3.121)
5 ANTHONY.DUCLAIR ARI     (3.189)     (0.142)     (3.046)
6 NATHAN.MACKINNON COL     (2.524)      0.473     (2.996)
7 JOHN.MITCHELL COL     (3.324)     (0.357)     (2.966)
8 JORDAN.MARTINOOK ARI     (2.999)     (0.032)     (2.966)
9 MATT.DUCHENE COL     (2.414)      0.398     (2.811)
10 BLAKE.COMEAU COL     (2.839)     (0.067)     (2.771)
11 RADIM.VRBATA VAN/ARI     (2.519)      0.078     (2.596)
12 SVEN.BAERTSCHI VAN     (2.834)     (0.252)     (2.581)
13 TOBIAS.RIEDER ARI     (2.319)      0.238     (2.556)
14 MIKHAIL.GRIGORENKO COL     (2.649)     (0.127)     (2.521)
15 GABRIEL.LANDESKOG COL     (2.044)      0.428     (2.471)
16 TAYLOR.HALL EDM/N.J     (2.139)      0.268     (2.406)
17 MAX.DOMI ARI     (2.309)      0.088     (2.396)
18 JAROMIR.JAGR FLA     (1.839)      0.328     (2.166)
19 JOHNNY.GAUDREAU CGY     (2.039)      0.108     (2.146)
20 JAMIE.MCGINN ANA/BUF/ARI     (2.209)     (0.092)     (2.116)
21 MARTIN.HANZAL ARI/MIN     (1.954)      0.153     (2.106)
22 JOHN.TAVARES NYI     (1.699)      0.378     (2.076)
23 CARL.SODERBERG COL     (2.119)     (0.062)     (2.056)
24 VIKTOR.STALBERG NYR/CAR/OTT     (2.519)     (0.472)     (2.046)
25 ALEX.BURROWS VAN/OTT     (2.139)     (0.192)     (1.946)
26 MICHAEL.FROLIK CGY     (1.804)     (0.022)     (1.781)
27 JAROME.IGINLA COL/L.A     (1.739)     (0.057)     (1.681)
28 LOUI.ERIKSSON BOS/VAN     (1.599)     (0.012)     (1.586)
29 ARTEMI.PANARIN CHI     (1.084)      0.398     (1.481)
30 SAM.REINHART BUF     (1.384)      0.083     (1.466)
31 SEAN.COUTURIER PHI     (1.079)      0.368     (1.446)
32 MATT.STAJAN CGY     (2.094)     (0.667)     (1.426)
33 CHRIS.VANDEVELDE PHI     (2.069)     (0.672)     (1.396)
34 JEAN-GABRIEL.PAGEAU OTT     (1.164)      0.228     (1.391)
35 CONNOR.MCDAVID EDM     (1.049)      0.323     (1.371)
36 PIERRE-E.BELLEMARE PHI     (1.894)     (0.527)     (1.366)
37 JESPER.FAST NYR     (1.549)     (0.192)     (1.356)
38 MARK.LETESTU EDM     (2.044)     (0.702)     (1.341)
39 HENRIK.ZETTERBERG DET     (1.054)      0.283     (1.336)
40 JORDAN.STAAL CAR     (1.004)      0.318     (1.321)
You almost have to discount the Canucks, Coyotes, and Avalanche. They are all so bad that they're stacking the list. So let's cut them, and we'll go from 40 players down to 18 (and then bump it out to 25 just because):

Player Team  jQOT  jQOC /\Qual
1 TAYLOR.HALL EDM/N.J     (2.407)      0.272     (2.680)
2 JAROMIR.JAGR FLA     (2.107)      0.332     (2.440)
3 JOHNNY.GAUDREAU CGY     (2.307)      0.112     (2.420)
4 JOHN.TAVARES NYI     (1.967)      0.382     (2.350)
5 VIKTOR.STALBERG NYR/CAR/OTT     (2.787)     (0.468)     (2.320)
6 MICHAEL.FROLIK CGY     (2.072)     (0.018)     (2.055)
7 ARTEMI.PANARIN CHI     (1.352)      0.402     (1.755)
8 SAM.REINHART BUF     (1.652)      0.087     (1.740)
9 SEAN.COUTURIER PHI     (1.347)      0.372     (1.720)
10 MATT.STAJAN CGY     (2.362)     (0.663)     (1.700)
11 CHRIS.VANDEVELDE PHI     (2.337)     (0.668)     (1.670)
12 JEAN-GABRIEL.PAGEAU OTT     (1.432)      0.232     (1.665)
13 CONNOR.MCDAVID EDM     (1.317)      0.327     (1.645)
14 PIERRE-E.BELLEMARE PHI     (2.162)     (0.523)     (1.640)
15 JESPER.FAST NYR     (1.817)     (0.188)     (1.630)
16 MARK.LETESTU EDM     (2.312)     (0.698)     (1.615)
17 HENRIK.ZETTERBERG DET     (1.322)      0.287     (1.610)
18 JORDAN.STAAL CAR     (1.272)      0.322     (1.595)
19 FRANS.NIELSEN NYI/DET     (1.527)      0.057     (1.585)
20 ALEX.CHIASSON OTT/CGY     (1.867)     (0.288)     (1.580)
21 SEAN.MONAHAN CGY     (1.387)      0.192     (1.580)
22 MATT.MOULSON BUF     (1.932)     (0.363)     (1.570)
23 ANDERS.LEE NYI     (1.522)      0.037     (1.560)
24 VINCENT.TROCHECK FLA     (1.362)      0.197     (1.560)
25 RYAN.O'REILLY BUF     (1.142)      0.397     (1.540)
These are the guys that you want on your team. Please ignore the inclusion of Vandevelde and Bellemare, as that's just a product of Dave Hakstol being a fucking goddamn idiot. 

(deep breath)

They are getting stuck with competition that is better than their teammates, which is a tough position to be put in considering they often play on the same team as guys in the previous category that are sheltered so much that their coaches basically feed them grapes on the bench. 

These are the workhorses, the grinders, the guys who make life easier for the Brayden Schenns and Alex Ovechkins and Jack Eichels of the world. (The Flames, Islanders, and Sabres are also all kind of bad.)

Players With jQOC > jQOT Who Produce The Most

Here's your money shot for the day. Of the 233 forwards that qualify (with 1500+ minutes at 5v5 in the past two seasons), 106 players face competition who are stronger via TOI and xG than their teammates. I'll include Brad Marchand to make 107 because his difference is just 0.004 on the positive side and I want to see where he stacks up. 

Of those 107 players, here are the top of the list in Expected Goals For Percentage:
Player Team xGF% GF%  jQOT   jQOC  /\Qual
1 PATRICE.BERGERON BOS 58.77 55.15      0.311      0.438     (0.126)
2 BRAD.MARCHAND BOS 57.76 57.59      0.406      0.403      0.004
3 CONNOR.MCDAVID EDM 56.39 57.58     (1.049)      0.323     (1.371)
4 SEAN.COUTURIER PHI 56.14 55.78     (1.079)      0.368     (1.446)
5 NIKITA.KUCHEROV T.B 55.56 59.88     (0.564)      0.108     (0.671)
6 JORDAN.STAAL CAR 55.5 51.92     (1.004)      0.318     (1.321)
7 BLAKE.WHEELER WPG 55.05 53.69     (0.224)      0.413     (0.636)
8 TAYLOR.HALL EDM/N.J 54.78 52.49     (2.139)      0.268     (2.406)
9 BRANDON.SAAD CBJ 54.53 59.43     (0.149)     (0.002)     (0.146)
10 RYAN.KESLER ANA 54.08 51.92      0.391      0.433     (0.041)

Especially impressive are McDavid, Couturier, Staal, and Hall - they're all buried in a really significant way, and they STILL manage to come out with a positive Expected Goals differential. 

In Conclusion

Sean Couturier is very good. Thank you for your time.