Photo Credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images

Canucks Army Year in Review: Darren Archibald

It’s often said that sorting by most hits on a team should find you the worst possession players. After all, you have to be chasing the puck to actually make a hit in the first place.

Darren Archibald proved that theory true for the Canucks; leading the club’s eligible forwards with three hits per game whilst also owning the worst Corsi for percentage on the team.

Such a performance may have been acceptable last season because of the missing grit and toughness in the lineup following the retirement of Derek Dorsett, but with the likes of Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle and Tim Schaller joining the fold, Archibald is surely on the outside looking in on a roster spot for the 2018-19 campaign.

Player GP G A P CF%
Darren Archibald 27 4 5 9 43.1

It’s probably for the best if he is squeezed out because if the underlying numbers are any sign, he doesn’t offer much in the way of tangible on-ice contributions.

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Vancouver was buried by shot attempt, scoring chance and expected goal shares alike with the journeyman forward deployed.

Archibald finished last or second to last among Canucks’ forwards by each of the metrics seen above.

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The caveat in all this was that he faced atypical deployment for a fourth-line forward — seeing a higher proportion of his ice-time against the other team’s best players as part of his shutdown duties alongside Brandon Sutter.

Visualization by Micah McCurdy

By this virtue, it’s fair to wonder if it was the difficult role rather than lacking individual play that conspired to undermine Archibald’s performance. In all likelihood, it’s a combination of both, although his numbers away from Sutter tell us that he struggled irrespective of deployment.

Perhaps most concerning is that he had a notably adverse effect on his teammates’ ability to control shot attempts.

Archibald dragged Canucks’ skaters down by almost 6% with respect to managing the shot clock — a mark that was by far the worst among the team’s forwards.

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn then that Archibald was labelled as a below replacement level forward.

Data based assessment from the chart above reveals that the 28-year-old’s foundational tools are a notch below par for the NHL. In other words, Archibald’s lacking two-way profile negates the value gained from his physical presence and transition contributions.

More specifically, the team failed to create offence with Archibald deployed.

Viz by Micah McCurdy

Among forwards that played at least 300 five-on-five minutes, only five in the league had lower expected on-ice goals for rates.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to discern exactly how much of that ineffectiveness was Archibald’s own doing. On the surface, it appears he did his part; registering nine points in just 27 games, though a deeper look into the contextual factors leaves you asking questions.

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For starters, three of his five assists were secondary contributions — secondary assists, of course, being an unrepeatable skill due to its random nature. It also doesn’t bode well for Archibald that his four goals came on the back of a shooting percentage north of 14%.

I’m sure many of you expected some degree of luck to be involved given his limited scoring resume dating back to junior, but it’s imperative that we present the facts anyway.

Moving forward, I can’t imagine Archibald factoring into the main roster barring a string of injuries. In players like Roussel, Beagle and Schaller, the organization has similarly physical players with superior two-way skillsets.

  • Daniel posted a very interesting piece about Quality of Competition on Pass it to Bulis this week – seems relevant here. His thesis was that QoC is often overstated, and Quality of Teammates is much more important.

    Archibald seems to bear that out – sure he got difficult assignments, but he made everyone around him worse.

    It’s too bad, as Archibald is a fun player to watch and a good story.

  • Hockey Bunker

    He is what he is. Tough guy plays hard. Ups the grit component. If Roussel or Schaller are good enough to move up Archie could fit 4th line. Not a good 13th fwd because not versatile enough. I’m pulling for him because he’s never given up

  • Marvin101

    I think you’re being too tough on Archibald. Considering that Beagle will be paid 4.5 times the salary of Archibald, of course he should be a better player. And what were Archibald’s instructions from Green? probably, go out and hit someone. I think Archibald at 650K is better value than Beagle at 3 million.

    • Sandpaper

      Not sure why yòu are getting trashed, for stating what transpired last season.
      I like what Archibald brings, I just don’t think his skating is nhl calibre.

      • Fred-65

        It’s not difficult fans become emotionally attached to players rather than the reality of how they perform. eg Virtanen the dreams surrounding this player were way out of reality, hence the low ball contract he signed ( agreed by player, agent and management ) He is now down in the 3rd line spot if compared with others at that salary, but fans refused to acknowledge this, ditto Archibald

    • Cageyvet

      I agree, and let’s face it, consistency is the hallmark of an extended NHL career. At his age and skill level he doesn’t have the luxury of bringing anything but his best every night. Without the signings I think we needed him, but now he will be hard pressed to be anything but depth.

  • Rodeobill

    Of all the players that probably cursed the gods when we signed the FAs this summer, poor Archi probably cursed the loudest. A lot on the grit depth chart will need to get injured this year to get another chance. I’m sure he wont get picked up on waivers and he will be a great part of Utica just like 2 seasons ago.

  • Archi fan here.

    He somehow turned himself into the invisible man. I don’t know if Green wanted him to play a role foreign to him or what, but for Archibald to be successful, he needs to play to his strength, which I see as a physical, hard to play against dude.

  • Jabs

    I like Archibald but the bottom line is that he doesn’t seem to play as if every shift is his last and understand that there are a lot of other guys trying harder to get his roster spot. IMO he should be around 20th on the forward depth chart this year and not really in the discussion to make this team.

  • Doodly Doot

    Roussel and Archi came up at the same time. Van gave Roussel a tryout I believe at the same time Archi was starting out. The longevity of each of their careers indicate luck is not a factor. Roussel has BEEN what the Canucks wishes Archi was. He’s a good guy, team guy, can fill in on the 4th line in a pinch. Way better than some random PTO guy.