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The Sports Daily > The Sunshine Skate
An Individual Barrage

Earlier, I discussed the surge in Panthers shooting. The big team-wide improvement no doubt comes with some individual improvement. However, leaving that statement as is would be doing a disservice to just how good the individual improvement is.

Here, we are not going to look at the usual on-ice Corsi stats. Instead, this is a look at what players are generating individually. We already know the Panthers defense is just as good as it was before, the surge in offense needs a closer look.

Prior to March, only eight players, with a minimum of 50 TOI, met or exceeded the league average of 11.03 iCF. They are:

  • Kyle Rau (16.52)
  • Brandon Pirri (15.23)
  • Greg McKegg (13.62)
  • Nick Bjugstad (12.14)
  • Vincent Trocheck (11.79)
  • Reilly Smith (11.78)
  • Aleksander Barkov (11.59)
  • Jonathan Huberdeau (11.19)

Notice something about that list? There are no defensemen on it. The best defensemen at generating iCF prior to March were Aaron Ekblad (9.79) and Erik Gudbranson (7.90). Another point of interest is the lack of so-called depth forwards. Aside from Greg McKegg, there are none. Of course, I mention both these facts for a reason, more on that in a moment.

Since March 1, 14 players with a minimum of 50 TOI have posted an iCF of 11.0 or better. The list is a rather interesting mix of players:

  • Shawn Thornton (18.21)
  • Vincent Trocheck (17.25)
  • Nick Bjugstad (16.53)
  • Kyle Rau (15.88)
  • Rocco Grimaldi (14.97)
  • Aleksander Barkov (13.93)
  • Reilly Smith (13.79)
  • Derek MacKenzie (12.78)
  • Logan Shaw (12.77)
  • Jonathan Huberdeau (11.77)
  • Steven Kampfer (11.63)
  • Jakub Kindl (11.56)
  • Jaromir Jagr (11.22)
  • Erik Gudbranson (11.07)

The name that likely jumps off that list immediately is Shawn Thornton’s. In fact, he’s got the most iCF60 of anyone on this list. I will not lie, I was not expecting that. Of course you would not suggest he is better than, say, Vincent Trocheck just because of this. The big take away from Thornton’s presence on this list, instead, is linked with that of Logan Shaw and Derek MacKenzie on this list as well. Three regular 4th line forwards appearing on this list means that, individually, even the bottom end of the forward corps is pushing the offensive pace.

Also signficiant is the presence of defensemen. All but one defenseman (Aaron Ekblad) has seen an increase in their iCF60 since March 1. Among the biggest jumps came from Erik Gudbranson, who has added 3 more attempts per 60 minutes over his previous count. Admittedly, that comes with caveat of small sample due to injury, but this is positive nonetheless. Steven Kampfer has also upped his total, adding nearly 4 more attempts per 60 minutes. There’s Jakub Kindl, who is the only deadline acquisition to appear on this list.

Speaking of deadline acquisitions, the absence of Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell from this list seems a bit odd, and disappointing. But here’s the thing about that: they may not be shooting individually, but the centers they have played with are both on this list, and high. with Nick Bjugstad and Rocco Grimaldi both appearing. Both of those centers are shooting at a very high rate, and rank Top 5 among Panthers with 50+ TOI.

The top performers should not be forgetten either. Nearly all have seen decent bumps individually, much like the rest of the team. It all feeds into what I discussed earlier with the team’s overall surge in shot generation. However, they are now what they were then: top performers. Ultimately, the biggest areas of growth for this team have come from the back end, and the forward depth.

With a better, more balanced attack being unleased by the Panthers, they should give their first round opponent quite the headache.