How Will The Loss Of Clarke MacArthur Affect The Leafs?

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The consensus around PPP has been that MacArthur's departure was a big loss. But to what extent?

Fans haven't had to wait long for Clarke MacArthur's return to Toronto. The new Senator will be playing against the Leafs in Toronto's home opener tonight, and there's been many a grumble around here at PPP that the Leafs shouldn't have let MacArthur go. He was cheap, he scored at a relatively good rate, and his advanced stats were great, right? Well, recently aspersions have been cast on MacArthur's tenure here in Toronto by one Jakerrr:

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Let's start with the obvious: as Jakerrr mentions, it's definitely fair to say that MacArthur's $3.25M AAV contract is a bargain, given his box score stats. A player capable of 40-60 points (depending on linemates) is a bargain in today's NHL, especially when you consider that he singed his most recent contract as a UFA. (...And if you'll look to your left everyone, you'll see David Clarkson's mountain of a contract...)

Perhaps I'll add very quickly here that MacArthur's individual Sh% over the course of his career is 13.92%. In his last three years, he's had:

2012-13: 12.90

2011-12: 13.51

2010-11: 13.64

So I think we can safely say that MacArthur wasn't shooting with any unusual puck luck through these past three seasons, and that his 40-60 point rate is probably repeatable for the next couple years - that is, the duration of his current contract - assuming he gets similar ice time and reasonable linemates. But let's delve into his performance one level deeper.

Behind The Net Stats

Shyeah we're looking at 5v5 numbers.

SEASON GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi QoC Corsi Relative Corsi On On-Ice Sh% Pens Taken/60 Pens Drawn/60 Off Zone Start % Off Zone Finish %
2012-13 40 12.96 0.141 1.961 16.2 -3.93 9.21 0.8 0.5 45.7 49.3
2011-12 73 13.61 0.72 0.729 7.2 3.74 9.46 0.8 1 52.8 51.4
2010-11 82 13.97 0.379 0.616 19.3 8.54 9.59 0.5 1.2 49.5 51.9

2013: Last season, although his Corsi numbers don't look great, he was actually second on the whole team in Corsi On and Corsi Rel. His Zone Starts looked great, as he appeared to push the puck in the right direction there, as well. His on-ice shooting percentage was high, but not so high compared to some of his teammates. Overall, a good year.

2011-12: Again, his Corsi On was 2nd best on the team, and even if his Corsi Rel was 5th, it was still great, next to his teammates. According to his zone starts, he finished slightly more often in his own zone, but it the difference wasn't alarming, either. Again, his on-ice shooting percentage was over 9%.

2010-11: Here, MacArthur's Corsi On slipped to 3rd on the team, though his Corsi Rel was also 3rd. He pushed the puck into the offensive zone more often than not, according to his Zone Starts, and he once again had an on-ice shooting percentage of over 9%. I think we're seeing a pattern, here.

So, according to Behind the Net's stats, MacArthur was one of the best Leafs in terms of possession stats in each year. Once again, however, let's delve deeper into the numbers to see if we can find some reason why the Leafs won't miss MacArthur.

WOWYs

We all know that the possession stats listed at BtN are largely influenced by who the players line up against/with, so let's take a look at how his teammates fared with and without MacArthur. For the record, I've been using numbers from Hockey Analysis at 5v5 and Even Strength:

Year Better With MacArthur Equal or Worse Without MacArthur
2012-13 23 6
2011-12 17 14
2010-11 23 12
Total 63 32

But wait! There has to be a lot of noise in those numbers. Let's take out the players that MacArthur didn't at least play 100 minutes with:

Year Better With MacArthur Equal Or Worse Without MacArthur
2012-13 11 1
2011-12 13 3
2010-11 14 2
Total 38 6

It sure looks to me like he improved far more teammates than he hindered. MacArthur's numbers may have been worse with other teams, but quite frankly, that's irrelevant. He made the Toronto Maple Leafs a better team while he was here. It seems the narrative of MacArthur being a strong possession player comes from him being a strong possession player.

I hope we can put this silly discussion about whether or not MacArthur really is a strong possession player to rest. Let's hope he doesn't burn us tonight.

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