This is some kind of a follow-up of Ozzy's FanPost "Is Reasoner really an upgrade over Konopka? Numbers say no". I felt challenged by Ozzy's view of Reasoner's offensive and all-around game to add some context and evidence if you like. I understand people value fighting and other intangibles differently and have varying expectations for what the ideal 4th liner should bring to the table. So, it's clear comparing Reasoner and Konopka will always yield various opinions. But I think Ozzy's been pretty harsh on Marty Reasoner, estimating his all-around game and offensive talent below the level of Zenon Konopka's abilities. As much as you may like Konokpa overall, I think that might really stretch things.
To be clear, this is not an angry response to Ozzy or something, not at all. I'm very glad he brought up the subject because I had never paid all that much attention to Reasoner's skills myself. I just felt it would be a fun exercise to take a look at some of his highlights to get a better idea of his potential and therefore decided to put a new FanPost together. So, I just cite him above here to make the connection to what we've been discussing here this week anyway. Thanks again, Ozzy, for bringing it up.
Now, normally, I don't even care much at all about how many goals 4th liners score. I'm just happy when they're doing their job. So, if Reasoner was able to hold his two-way play together, I'd not even be disappointed to see his offensive game fading. The Isles would have enough other guys who can provide goals. But yeah, in order to get a better idea of what kind of a player Reasoner is I think his offensive abilities should be noted.
I went into the archives to check the Isles' game highlights for some offensive contribution of Reasoner. While selecting the plays embeded below I tried to think about what a typical 4th line center would have been able to do in these situations and chose 7 plays I think Konopka wouldn't have been able to pull off with the same effectiveness.
No one's going to be blown away by these videos - they're all pretty typical hockey plays. Not every shot there is a great scoring chance and based on these videos you might think Reasoner hasn't done all that much damage offensively. Well, this might be true. Or he might of course have had other (deflection/rebound) opportunities, not captured by the video highlights of the NHL. Or getting opportunities is of course a function of what kind of TOI and line mates you get. So, if you think that selection looks kind of lame for a top 7 of shots, I think Reasoner could be blamed only partly for that. But that's not the point anyway.
The important thing I want to show is what Reasoner's done with the opportunities he got. Because, clearly, what you do with the opportunities, i.e. how much danger you create, is indeed a function of your ability to read the play and shoot the puck. So, if you have time to go through these videos, just try to pay attention to what Reasoner does in these situations and whether for example Konopka's shot, agility, hockey sense would be good enough to do create a similar amount of danger in these situations.
vs Rangers (10/15/2011):
vs Jets (11/3/2011):
vs Rangers (11/15/2011):
vs Canadiens (11/17/2011):
vs Wild #1 (12/17/2011):
vs Wild #2 (12/17/2011):
vs Rangers (12/26/2011):
Ability to score 10 goals
Again, some shots were not even scoring chances and not very threatening at all. I understand if you feel he should have no more than one or two goals based on this selection. But it's of course not complete and I'm not trying to imply Reasoner is a fantastic offensive talent or has been great this season anyway. But I feel his skills are underrated a little and these videos show some of that. In some I'm quite impressed with how Reasoner's reading the plays and able to get himself into open space and pretty good shooting positions. And in others you get the impression he's creating some decent rebound chances because his shots are tough to handle (although maybe the goalies were just off their game in those situations).
And yeah, I think that's things Konopka couldn't do very well at all and Reasoner should be able to do at age 34 or 35 as well as at 30. So, I'm not seeing his lack of production thus far this season as a sign of declining skills. The pucks rather have just not been going in for him. I think he still has the ability to score around 10 goals per season and I'm guessing we can look forward to the 2nd half, when the shooting luck hopefully will turn for him and we'll see his hockey sense and pretty decent shot paying off. Not that it would influence the Isles' season all that greatly, but yeah, just wanted to show another perspective on what Reasoner can do.