The past couple of years we have struggled in 5 on 5 hockey. We have had a pretty good power play and not bad on the PK. We have been in the desired 110+ when you combine the 2 %'s together. But in 5 on 5 we haven't been very good.
Using the advanced metrics (I am not the biggest fan of such things, but they do help rank things) here are our forwards and how they rank amoung all F with 750 mins of 5 on 5 time:
Cole 46-injured and UFA
Now the question is why? Then the follow up is, how do we improve? The why of course is opinion. Mine is we don't have anyone with super skills. IE No one with the speed that scares and burns, or no one with the power and strength to scare. Both work.
Now Cole is gone. That is why I added Sheahan as the 6th. One of the ways to improve is to not have him as a top 6 forward. Same with Helm. Both have played in the top 6 at times this year. Heck I still don't think Abby should be in our top 6.
We also don't get enough out of our D. Using the same standards, here is how our Dmen rank for 1000 mins played of 5 on 5 time:
Now in simple math there should be 180 top 6 forwards and 120 top 4 Dmen. Of course many teams don't really have 6 real top 6 forwards or 4 true top 4 Dmen. A few teams have more than 6 F's and/or 4 top 4 D's.
Just using these numbers one could say we have no #1 Dman, a #2 in Dekeyser, a #3 in Kronwall, and a #4 in Ericsson. That isn't horrible. Of course finding a true #1 is very hard to do.
The F group is in some ways worse. Only Datsyuk is a clear top line F, when healthy. Tatar is a second line guy. Nyquist, Z, and Abby are more borderline guys for a second line. Sheahan really is a 3rd line guy.
The plus side is these guys are very good on the PP. Datsyuk was 2nd in the NHL on the PP. Z was 16, Nyquist 22, Tatar 35, Abby 88th, and Sheahan was 133. This tells me that at best we have 4 guys that are legit top 6 forwards on the team. Not a real surprise. many of us have wondered why Abby is playing in the top 6. This then means we need 2 top 6 forwards. Either prospects that step up or UFA/trades.
This means we need 3 primetime players that are very costly to pick up. Yikes. The good news is, we don't have to do it all at once. We do have to do it by the time the 2017/18 season starts. That is the season after Datsyuk's contract expires. Of course by then Z and Kronwall will be about done as well. That makes 6 big time players needed over the next 3 off summers. 2 Dmen and 4 forwards.
Had to edit for a math error. Need 4 F, not 3.