by Forechecker on 09/19/08 at 11:59 AM ET
Nashville Predators fans were horrified last season when Shea Weber injured his knee during the first shift of the first game; it was a kick in the gut to a fan base that had taken quite a licking over the previous summer. When young Ville Koistinen stepped into the breach and started playing regularly, nobody knew what to expect initially. For that first month, very little happened. Koistinen’s Plus/Minus figure was 0 for every game in October, and he failed to score a single point; it was like the guy was destined to stay away from the highlight reel, either as a hero or victim. As the calendar turned over to November, however, the trends all turned solidly positive, and by the end of the year, the results were astounding; he finished second on the team in Plus/Minus to Jason Arnott with +13 in 48 games played, and put up 17 points along the way.
Put another way, his impact on Nashville’s Plus/Minus, particularly in 5-on-5 action, was stellar. As described in the On-Ice/Off-Ice Plus/Minus Rating (the difference between a team’s +/- when he’s on the ice, and when he’s on the bench), Koistinen posted the 9th-best result among NHL defensemen in 2007-8, using a minimum of 40 games played and 5 minutes of ice time per game. On the power play, his performance in that same metric was 13th-best. That speaks volumes about why GM David Poile was willing to trade Marek Zidlicky and make room for a larger role for Koistinen this fall. It’s also worth noting that he should be mature enough as a hockey player to step up to the challenge; after the two Gregs (de Vries and Zanon), Koistinen is actually the next oldest Nashville blueliner. He spent a number of years in Finland’s top circuit before coming over to North America in 2006.
Ville Koistinen should be a key PP performer in 2008-9
Photo Courtesy mark6mauno
If we take a look at his game-by-game breakdown, we see that Koistinen’s role on the team changed a few times during the 2007-8 season. Basically, while Weber was out of the lineup, and Koistinen played a major role, his production was quite good. When Shea returned and the numbers game restricted his playing time, however, Koistinen’s offense dropped off; just see the table below to see how he was affected by heavy vs. light duty. There’s decent reason to believe that with regular action playing a key offensive role (meaning that Barry Trotz saves the tough matchups for Hamhuis, de Vries and Weber), Koistinen’s scoring rates should improve overall from last year. That, along with the opportunity that greater ice time provides (something like 17:00 at even strength and 4:00 on the power play), should mean a significant jump in his offensive stats, making him an up-and-coming contributor to what is already a deep and talented defense corps in Nashville. For fantasy hockey GM’s, this is one of those lesser-known players to consider snagging with a late-round selection.
|Ville Koistinen’s Production, Heavy vs. Light Ice Time|
So, for the official Forechecker’s Forecast…
|Forechecker’s Forecast, 2008-9 NHL Regular Season|
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