Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez
Teddy Purcell is one of the better-travelled forwards in the NHL, and it appears as though another destination awaits the veteran forward based on this Elliott Friedman report.
Ted Purcell is on waivers from LA
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 3, 2016
The Los Angeles Kings hoped they’d plugged an area of need when they signed Purcell on the cheap in the dog days of summer, but that best-laid plan hasn’t come together. In 12 games with the Kings, Purcell’s amassed two assists at even strength and is their single worst player by Corsi For at 44% on the season.
Generally, when we’re looking at veterans that find themselves on the waiver wire, it’s less about them being bad as it is them not hitting organizational expectations. Purcell’s is a rare case where the players hit the mark on both fronts, though, and is teetering on the edge of losing his NHL career entirely.
Is this a situation where the Canucks can capitalize on an ugly fit and acquire a veteran scorer with a history of productivity for, well, nothing? Or would the Canucks be wise to pass up on Purcell’s tenuous status as an NHL player? Let’s delve in and find out.
Finding out what exactly the Canucks would get in Purcell can be a difficult exercise. Just one season prior he was playing alongside Taylor Hall and producing like a high-end second line forward. Now he’s a bottom of the lineup player bound for the AHL.
In life as in hockey, the answer when faced with two extremes often resides somewhere in the middle. I tend to think that’s the case with Purcell.
Though Purcell’s producing just .51 primary points per sixty minutes, his last four seasons have all hovered around the 1.5 P1/60 mark. That’s the kind of primary production one might reasonably expect from a semi-capable first line forward. Purcell’s teams have also historically enjoyed a better share of shot attempts with him on the ice than off.
Were Purcell playing anywhere near that level on the one-year $1.6-million pact he’d signed with the Kings, he wouldn’t find himself on waivers, though.
We’ve spilt enough ink on Purcell’s lost production, but perhaps equally concerning has been his inability to keep his head above water on a team that’s traditionally an elite territorial side. Purcell has a 44% CF and a 29% share of expected goals. Those marks are the worst he’s posted since his rookie season, and by a fair amount too.
Perhaps the Kings just aren’t a fit for Purcell. This wouldn’t be the first time they’ve parted with him. They dealt him at the trade deadline for Jeff Halpern of all players many moons ago. Whether it’s something in the water or what, the two sides just don’t mix.
I’m willing to wager that in the right scenario Purcell can return to producing at a third line level and pushing the river positively for whichever franchise takes the plunge. I just find it incredibly hard to believe he’s forgotten how to play hockey entirely overnight.
There’s ample reason for concern, but given the non-asset cost, it seems a worthwhile gamble all the same.
It’s not like the Canucks are in a position to be picky. They’re scoring 2.2 goals per game, 2nd worst in the entire NHL. They’ve played Michael Chaput in their top six, Jayson Megna on their top line and regularly play Jack Skille. It seems inconceivable to me that, even in a worst case scenario, Purcell isn’t an appreciable improvement on every single one of those players and perhaps a few more on the Canucks roster.
I don’t see the Canucks taking a chance on Purcell. If they felt Teemu Pulkkinen’s foot speed was an issue, I don’t imagine Purcell satisfies that itch either. He’s a big bodies winger with a history of strong production and solvent two-way play, though, and you usually can’t pick those players up for nothing. Foot speed be damned, he’s worth the trouble.