The Canucks Miss Ehrhoff Less Than Ehrhoff Misses The Canucks

Jonathan Willis
March 07 2012 10:59AM

When the Canucks signed Kevin Bieksa but allowed Christian Ehrhoff to become an unrestricted free agent, there were naturally concerns. Ehrhoff is a quality defenseman, and was a big part of the Canucks offense, both on the power play and at even-strength. As it turns out, however, Ehrhoff misses the Canucks’ power play more than the Canucks’ power play misses him.

Here are some select statistics for the Canucks’ top four blue-line options for this season and last season. Point totals are calculated over 82 games, regardless of how many games were actually played, for ease of comparison.

2010-11 PP TOI/G 5v4 PTS/60 PP Points* 2011-12 PP TOI/G 5v4 PTS/60 PP Points*
Ehrhoff 3:33 5.86 29 Edler 3:23 4.84 24
Edler 3:46 5.82 27 Salo 2:43 2.25 18
Hamhuis 1:34 4.22 9 Hamhuis 1:56 4.59 13
Bieksa 1:43 1.60 4 Bieksa 1:43 4.69 10

Point totals are down on the Canucks’ blue line, both overall and on a per/60 basis. The slack has been picked up somewhat by an improved performance from Bieksa and Hamhuis, but there’s no doubt that the Canucks were better off when they had Ehrhoff as an option on the power play point. The team’s overall power play conversion rate is still very good, at 20.8%, but that’s down from 24.3% last season.

On the other hand, Ehrhoff’s totals have plummeted in Buffalo. The Sabres’ power play, which operated at a 19.4% success rate last season, has dipped to 15.6% this year. Ehrhoff has just nine points in 55 games – a 13-point pace over an 82-game schedule. It’s not just an ice-time decrease either – Ehrhoff is scoring 3.08 points for every hour of 5-on-4 ice-time, roughly half the rate he scored at last season.

Ehrhoff stands as a good object lesson to the fact that individual players have less impact on a power play unit than the power play unit does on individual players. He’s still an excellent power play option, and the Canucks would be better this season if they had him. However, in a salary cap environment sacrifices need to be made, and G.M. Mike Gillis decided that Vancouver would be able to get by without paying a premium for Ehrhoff.

So far, he’s been right.

Thomas Drance looked specifically on how much the Sedins miss Ehrhoff in an epic piece at the Vancouver Sun's website last week.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Patrick Johnston
March 07 2012, 03:03PM
Trash it!
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trashes
+1
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props

Bieksa's increased production is impressively huge.

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#2 lortimer
March 07 2012, 09:32PM
Trash it!
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trashes
+1
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props

1.Sample size sample size sample size in reference to Goals for on PP. I feel one season is not a large enough

2.a) its clear the Canucks are worse of defensively (5 on 5) b) drop in Corsi Attempts For offensively (mainly the Sedins) and as you have shown on the PP.

in large part because Ehroff left.

Virtually the same team . goalies playing well, no major injuries yet The Canucks have let .5 more GA at even strength a substantial fall.

(why the drop?)

one main reason is the defensive giveaways ( a stat I track - are up 20%)

1. Erhoff was huge getting the puck out of his zone 2. He made Edler so much better . Edler has been a disaster this year defensively.

The Sedins with and without 2009-2011 (with Erhoff) better than 2008 -2012 (This year and the year before Erohoff was here) , In effect the Sedins have fallen back to level they had before his arrival.

Two year sample size is necessary.

in fairness you did point out the 6% Cors F drop in your other article.

Another key point your missing is the replacement player.Or how well you can fill the hole.

In effect The Canucks have replaced Erhoff with Rome coming in and Salo has bumped up.

Salo is not Erhoff.

Finally Synergy- often overlooked in hockey

The Sedins , and Burrows with Ehroff AND Edler

were a dynamite. (offensive, possession) And it was a critical mistake for Gillis not to replace him.

As the Canucks overall have fallen about 5%-7% as a team (from dominant to good) and the failure to replace Ehroff with equal value is the main reason.

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