by PuckStopsHere on 08/11/10 at 03:36 PM ET
One thing that adjusted Corsi ratings are good for is to identify players who are failing to provide value to their team at even strength. These are the players with limited ice time who have the worst adjusted Corsi ratings in the NHL nonetheless. At the top of this list is Jason Strudwick of the Edmonton Oilers. This past season, Strudwick played 72 games on the Edmonton Oiler defence. He had no goals and six assists and put up the worst team and zone adjusted Corsi rating in the NHL, which shows he was a horrid player at puck possession. He isn’t a strong player without the puck either. Strudwick won’t top any defensive lists. For those efforts, the Edmonton Oilers re-signed Strudwick with a small raise.
Jason Strudwick is the kind of player who is given a lot of chances to play in the NHL despite his failures. He is a very hard working player and a very good teammate off the ice. This puts him in coaches’ good books. He is cheap. With his raise, he is still making $725,000 this year and in a salary capped environment that can be important. The problem is he is not an NHL calibre hockey player.
Jason Strudwick achieved a historical oddity last year. He took the fewest shots per minute in NHL history (at least since the NHL started publishing ice time on the web in 1998). It is really hard to look at Strudwick’s game and see why he is in the NHL. Without a salary cap, i am sure he wouldn’t be. Countless players who have been forced out of the NHL for salary reasons are better than he is.
If we look at his career, Strudwick has never been a top NHL player. He has been in the league since 1997/98 (with one year spent in Switzerland and a bit of early AHL time). In that time Strudwick has played 631 games and scored 53 points. His career bests are nine points in the same season and three goals. He has been a utility player who has seen shifts at forward and defence. Each season in his career has been filled with healthy scratches. In fact, last year at age 34 he set a career high with 72 NHL games played.
If you want a quick reason for why the Edmonton Oilers finished last in the NHL this is as good as any. Their defensive depth was so poor that an aging utility player who has proven himself to be of questionable quality in the past and was arguably the worst defenceman in the league last year managed to set a career high in games played with them. One number to watch if the Oilers are to improve is Strudwick’s games played and total ice time. Both will need to drop. Somebody with more talent will need to take his spot.
Jason Strudwick is becoming a more common style of player who survives in the NHL. He is a good guy to have around who will work cheaply. He isn’t very good, but in a salary capped world you need some cheap players for the bottom of your roster. It is a shame that in the NHL next year we will get to see more Jason Strudwick, given his failures and somebody like former Oiler defenceman Denis Grebeshkov, who is a significantly better player, having put up 21 points in 51 games last year, will be toiling in the KHL because nobody would pay his bill. This is not good for the NHL overall. The creation of a role for an otherwise AHL or other minor pro league player to hang around the NHL working cheap to stay under the salary cap, while more talented players cannot stay in the league is a disturbing trend of the current CBA.
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