Friday, May 30, 2008

2007-08 Rink Wrap: David Steckel

From Backstrom to Steckel, we're taking a quick look at and grading the 2007-08 season for every player* who laced 'em up for the Caps during the campaign (and is still with the team) with an eye towards 2008-09. Next up, David Steckel.

[Ed. Note: "From Backstrom to Steckel"... and here we are at Steckel. Thanks for sticking it out with me through 29 (I think) players and making the discussion on each worthwhile... your reward is coming next week.]

Contract Status: 2008-09 salary of $500,000 (cap hit of $512,500); RFA after 2008-09 season
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 26
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 1+
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 67 games played, 5 goals, 7 assists, +1, 34 PIMs
Key Stat: Steckel lead all rookies in faceoff percentage and was seventh among all players with a 56.3 winning percentage.
"How 'Bout That?" Fact: Steckel, as Peerless reminds us, was drafted by the Kings with the last pick in the first round of the 2001 Entry Draft... 184 picks before L.A. selected Cristobal Huet.

The Good: Steckel (who sure does look a lot like Matt Bradley) registered his first NHL points and goals in 2007-08 as he came more or less out of nowhere to become a key contributor on a team not lacking in third- and fourth-line forwards (were it not for a broken finger suffered in early March, Steckel likely would have played 81 games). His faceoff numbers (see above) were fantastic (and he took a ton), he had the second-best takeaway-to-giveaway ratio on the team (behind only Boyd Gordon), got the second most shorthanded minutes per game of any forward (again, behind only Gordon) and kept his shifts short (with one notable exception). Like many Caps, Steckel's numbers improved once his former coach (twice) Bruce Boudreau took over behind the bench, and he registered four goals and seven assists in 46 games the rest of the way. Finally, he positively owned Tampa Bay, to the tune of four goals, two assists and a plus-four rating in six games. If he got to play the Bolts 82 times in a season, that would project to 54 goals, 27 assists and a plus-54 rating (Steckel, we assume, doesn't mind the unbalanced schedule one bit). And all of this for $525,000 and a $512,500 cap hit.

The Bad: While it isn't his job to put up points, after a 30-goal/31-assist season in Hershey in 2006-07, you would have hoped for a little more offense (even though both numbers were far and away the single-season highs at any level). Steckel had goal-less droughts of 24- and 16-games, didn't have a single assist in 21 games before the coaching change and had only one goal and five assists in 61 games against teams that didn't finish D.F.L. in the League standings. And while Steckel ended up on the right side of zero in terms of plus/minus, he only had one month - October - in which he played more than three game and was a plus player. Surprisingly, Steckel's goals against when on the ice per sixty minutes was 22.5% higher than Gordon's and only 3% lower than Viktor Kozlov's.

The Vote: Rate Steckel on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Questions: What role do you see Steckel playing on the 2008-09 Caps? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?

If you've missed any of the previous 2007-08 Rink Wraps, click here, get caught up, and vote - polls will stay open for a while.

* And by "every," we mean every one who played more than just a handful of games.

36 comments:

NS said...

a 5er, but i think that might be a little generous (that is if 5 is MEETING our expectations).

he played well for a defensive minded for a PKer, but was lousy for someone who was touted for having pretty decent offensive skills.

Rage said...

My eyes tell me he played better than expected, but those numbers are pretty compellingly worse than expected...

JP said...

I agree with Rage. On one hand, I had no expectation that he'd even make the team, so the fact that he did and filled that fourth line center role deserves a big number. But at some point, you need to contribute something at the offensive end, even as a rookie and even in limited minutes.

And while it's an out-of-the-box idea, I'd love to see him in front on the power play some next year. With that big body he'd be sure to cause some commotion, and you don't score 30 in the AHL entirely by accident.

Bottom line: He exceeded my expectations, but is firmly on notice that he needs to chip in more offense next year.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Being that he wasn't expected to even crack the NHL team gave him an 8. He was an effective PK/face off guy. True he didn't show much scoring touch on the big level.
2) To get a 10 next season: The expectations will be significantly higher so we'd have to not only see a continuation of his PK and faceoff work, but also see a nice increase in production. Nothing huge, but 10-20-30 would be nice from your 4th line center.

NS said...

random: opinion on the Blake Wheeler news? maybe he wants a new(better) team/location?

i heard the nation's capital is pretty sweet.

JP said...

@ NS: My thought on Wheeler is that crappy teams don't let guys with real potential go. I'm sure he'll catch on somewhere and do some major AHL time, but it's pretty clear that he wasn't worth the pick Phoenix used on him, and frankly I'd be much happier with guys who actually want to play hockey than guys who want to get rich.

JP said...

Another interesting point on Wheeler - he could sign as a free agent with Phoenix, in which case the 'Yotes would get the 35th pick in this deep draft AND keep Wheeler. But you'd think the League would have to look REAL close at that shadiness.

NS said...

shady, it is. Bettman should skewer those shitheads if that happens.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see the Rink Wraps end ... and they didn't even get us to June. Gonna be a long summer!

Tyler said...

So when do the Caps announce the rookie camp dates?

JP said...

Development Camp is July 7-12 @ K-Plex.

Kim said...

What a pleasant surprise David Steckel was. Did not expect him to be a "regular" on the team this year. Really like that he is developing into a steady face-off guy. Boy are we looking good at Center. (That was not meant to be a puck bunny kind of comment).

If he can improve on the scoring front, he is in for one heck of season.

b.orr4 said...

Really JP, you didn't expect Steckel to make the team last season? To me, it would have been a surprise if he hadn't. Remember, prior to last season, the Caps had been one of the worst faceoff teams in the league as well as one of the worst penalty-killing teams; two areas that Steckel excelled in. And it was pretty much a concensus that Dave had proved everything he needed to at the AHL level. I gave him an 8 because while I thought he'd be good on the PK and faceoffs, he far exceeded my expectations. Unlike others, I never expected much offensively from him given his role and realistically when you're playing with guys like Brashear, Bradley and Gordon, how many great chances are you going to get? Steckel is the kind of guy that every Cup-winning team needs, a grinder who can shut down the opposition's best player and win you a key faceoff in the last minute of play. I think that with a full season under Boudreau, Steckel's role is going to expand next season.

JP said...

Really JP, you didn't expect Steckel to make the team last season?

Recall that the Caps at that point still had Brian Sutherby, a healthy Nylander and Laich at center (as well as Hanlon coaching) and that Steckel was one of the only guys with a shot at making the team who could be sent down to Hershey without having to go through waivers (52 and 55 being others).

So no, I didn't expect him to make the team, but mostly because of the number crunch and not what he had or hadn't done.

breed16 said...

Dave Steckel = Boyd Gordon + size.

It's too bad neither of them has shown enough offense to center the third line, because these are two elite face-off guys who could eat into each other's draws next year(if Fedorov re-signs).

I will be interested to see the term Gordon gets. If it's one year, that's a clear message from management that he and Steckel could be fighting for a spot on the '09-'10 Caps. If it's two years for Gordon, Steckel is on the hot seat. Maybe I exaggerate, but soon we're going to be giving looks at other guys in the system. Steckel and Gordon are a redundancy (and a luxury for the time-being).

I gave him an 8 because I didn't know what to expect. Next year I wanna see GOALS.

JP said...

@ Breed: I'm not sure they're completely redundant, and even if they are, on a team as bad on the PK as the Caps, that might not be a bad thing.

If the 2009-10 Caps had a fourth line of Bradley-Steckel-Gordon, it wouldn't be the end of the world, would it (especially considering that the line would probably cost less than $2.5m total)?

Anonymous said...

Since he got so much ice time in the playoffs, he really hurt the Cappies due to his lack of offensive ability.

Either he steps up the o-game, or Steckel is a 4th line center/AHLer next season.

breed16 said...

@ jp: I was waiting for someone to point out that the Caps are bad at the PK. Well, Steckel and Gordon together haven't exactly helped that now, have they?

I will wait until a full year with Huet to judge the PK, (a unit whose troubles, IMHO, are strongly tied to goalie play). But with Steckel and Gordon logging PK duties last year we were below average as a unit. I know, correlation not causation...but still.

JP said...

@ Breed: Good points, for sure, but by the same token we have no idea how much worse the PK would've been without these two guys, right?

I wish I knew where to find individual PK stats. Of course, those stats would be tricky in that the better you kill penalties the more SH time you get and the more SH time you get, the more goals you're going to be on ice for, but it still would be worthwhile, I'd think.

breed16 said...

Doesn't behindthenet.ca have these stats?

http://www.behindthenet.ca/2007/4_on_5.php?sort=15&mingp=&mintoi=&team=WSH&pos=

Some surprises at the top of the +/- per 60 minutes on the PK. This stat would also suggest Steckel is a better PKer than Gordon.

JP said...

Yeah, but that also suggests that Chris Clark is the worst PKer on the team and that Mike Green should get more SH minutes than Shaone Morrisonn.

I'd like to see PK% per guy. That btn link, though, is good info nonetheless.

tg said...

I gave him a 7, because I really didn't expect much of him. Offensively, he lived up (down?) to my (lack of) expectations. And what is it with these guys that show offensive flair in the AHL that can't do squat in the NHL? It's great if Gordon, Steckel, etc. can keep the other guys of the board, but if they can't score themselves, then it's only a half-won battle. Is he going to turn into another Sutherby/Pettinger? Will he become a true shut-down guy? Can he become like Laich and find a bit of scoring in there as well? I can think of a half-dozen guys on the team about whom I have the same questions (unfortunately). If most of them turn into Laich/Clark/etc., then the team will be doing OK. But if they don't provide any offense, it's all going to fall on Ovechkin/Semin again.

breed16 said...

@ jp: PK% per guy is an intriguing idea.

Just fiddling around with those PK stats on BTN, it's very interesting to see Shultz's name atop most of the Caps lists. No fluke either; he logged the 5th most PK minutes of all of the Caps, 3rd most amongst defensemen. Hmmmm.....

JP said...

The numbers don't lie - Schultz is rock-solid, and so early in his career (caveat: being one of the Caps' top PKers may be akin to being one of the most honest men in the Bush Administration).

Rage said...

ZING!

bigonetimer said...

I thought 7--he filled his role better than I had hoped, and to see a 4th line rookie in plus numbers is very positive. At .5M, he's at the right price too.

08-09 could be make or break for him though...we have too much in the pipeline for him to tread water or regress next year. Nonetheless, I see no reason he can't rack up 20-25 pts and stay in the plus

usiel said...

I believe I gave Stecks a 6. He is essentially a taller Gordon and with a better reach but not quite the speed. He's a lanky guy it apparently its hard for him to keep on mass but if he can gain a little bit and continue to work on his footspeed he'll help the caps this next year. He's good in the faceoffs and a decent PKer but I do recall some mistakes he made on some power plays that lead to goals which were ones veteran PKers would not have done.

He's a late bloomer prospect wise and I 'hope' that combined with a first NHL season under his belt and a good off season training that we'll see a little more offensive output this next season.

breed16 said...

@ JP: Not so fast with the Bush Administration analogies for the Shultz Man.

In the entire NHL, of PKers who logged more than 3 PK minutes per 60 on ice, Jeff Shultz ranked tenth (10th!) in +/- per 60 minutes. Brent Sopel, Andy Sutton, Steve Staios, Mike Grier, Dan Hamuis, Mike Sillinger, and Barret Jackman were the only players ahead of him in that regard. That's some pretty decent company league-wide.

I think I found a new work toy. Friday productivity, meet Behind the Net, your new archnemesis.

JP said...

Awesome. And how many of those guys are as young or inexperienced as Sarge? We don't need BtN to help out on that one.

Jeff Schultz: From whipping boy to hero in two days.

breed16 said...

I should clarify: the above statistic is amongst players with a minimum 40 games played.

breed16 said...

A Jeff Shultz jersey: it's on the shopping list.

JP said...

Make sure when you order it that you spell his name correctly. ;)

breed16 said...

Nah, I want to be that special guy who lives in ignorant bliss.

Schultz...I have to get used to that.

JP said...

Then I've got just the girl for you.

RandyD said...

Steckel was a solid player all season, and his real value appeared when he went out with a broken finger and left a big hole in the line combinations. He's a face-off monster, and he's key on the PK. While I would like to see more goals or points (but then who wouldn't?), I thought he deserved in the 7-8 range.

usually frustrated caps fan said...

Gave him an 8 since I had no expectations and I felt he exceeded any I would have had. Next year he needs to continue the goodness on faceoffs and PK and needs some offensive production. Perhaps with a healthy Fehr on his right side he can get some more points....