Is Okposo That Important?

I was tooling around earlier on Behind The Net and looking at some of the advanced stats for last years Islanders team. I guess EJ and LaGreca on NHL Live got me interested when they asked James Wisniewski which players he felt needed to step up and pick up their play in the absence of Mark Streit. There were a bunch of names tossed out, but I wasn't really all that interested in what he said.

What I was interested in though, was Kyle Okposo (A player that - even though what will follow will seem to contradict - I like). I remember watching a couple of games last year - the Colorado game in Denver stands out - and thinking that we were beginning to see something new from him. So I wandered over to Behind the Net to take a quick look at how much Okposo's absence is going to cost the Islanders. And the results surprised me. 

I used the advanced 5v5 stats available on the site and  whittled it down by restricting the time on ice to at least 10 minutes/game and for players who then skated in at least 40 games. What I found, was that Kyle was one of the worst players we had last year. Now don't get all mad, I don't think he's one of the worst players, and do like him, but based on what the advanced stats we have tell us, Kyle was actually one of the worst performers of the team.

For the year, Kyle was ranked 6th on in terms of time on ice % (TOI/60) at 13.61, but was actually the highest ranked forward. So Scott Gordon was putting him on the ice more than any other forward. He was also ranked # 1 on the team in terms of the quality of competition he was playing against, although at 0.041, he was fairly evenly matched when placed on the ice. Interestingly, he was only 3rd when considering the quality of his teammates. Both Trent Hunter and Rob Schremp  played with better linemates.


Where it gets interesting though is when we look at Okposo's total output. If he were to have played a full 60 minutes (somewhat similar to the runs created stat in baseball), Okposo would have only managed 1.49 pts/game. That was the 2nd lowest forward total on the team. John Tavares was the lowest (although JT wasn't as bad as Kyle on any of the other metrics.) Interestingly enough, Blake Comeau was first on the team, with a pts/60 of 1.99. Rob Schremp and Matt Moulson were #'s 2&3 respectively.

Finally, keeping in mind that we're averaging these numbers across a full 60 minutes, we see some shocking numbers - especially for those of us who felt that the Okposo injury was another significant blow. In particular, they come when looking at the goals for/goals against numbers. In terms of goals for/60, Kyle was 3rd lowest on the team and the 2nd lowest forward, just ahead of offensive stalwart Jon Sim. If averaged over 60 minutes, Kyle Okposo would only create 2.15 goals/game. When it comes to goals against, it got worse as Okposo was even with Blake Comeau, having been on ice for 3.42 goals/60 minutes.

At the end of it all, in nearly all of the advanced statistical categories, Kyle Okposo placed in the bottom tier of the team and almost always as one of the lowest performing forwards. This doesn't mean he's a bad player. I'm not looking at power play or short handed stats, nor am I looking at figuring out who he's been playing against. What I was curious about, and essentially noting here, is that the loss of Kyle Okposo is by no means the catastrophe the fans think it may be. Is he better than a call up from Bridgeport? Probably. But is the loss - for two or three months - going to be felt as much as the loss of Mark Streit, if at all? Probably not.

If Matt Moulson doesn't significantly regress, John Tavares moves forward as we think he can, and players like Rob Schremp (who I've always liked), Blake Comeau, and Josh Bailey develop/continue to develop, if and when Kyle Okposo is ready to return to action, he may be doing so with a team more equipped to challenge for a playoff spot.

<em>Submitted FanPosts do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or SB Nation. If you're reading this statement, you pass the fine print legalese test. Four stars for you.</em>

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