The Leafs' offseason thus far has seen quite a bit of turnover in the team's projected bottom six. The return of Matt Frattin and Leo Komarov, the Santorelli signing, and the possibility of promoting certain Marlies players means the bottom six in 2014-2015 should look and play nothing like last season's.
Should be battle for jobs in Leafs bottom-6 with likes of Komarov, Holland, Frattin, Santorelli, Bodie, Kontiola, Orr, Ashton, Leivo.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) July 3, 2014
However...are the Leafs third and fourth lines actually IMPROVED from recent history? To answer this, I collected data from the Leafs' bottom six forwards from the 2011-2012 season and the 2013-2014 season. I chose to ignore the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season due to small sample sizes and the fact that far too many actually gifted scorers were relegated to bottom six minutes (see: Grabovski, Mikhail; MacArthur, Clarke).
|2011-2012 Bottom Six||GP||TOI/60||5v5 Points/60||5v5 Shots/60||CF%||CF% Rel||ZS%||PDO||QoC TOI%||QoT TOI%|
|2013-2014 Bottom Six||GP||TOI/60||5v5 Points/60||5v5 Shots/60||CF%||CF% Rel||ZS%||PDO||QoC TOI%||QoT TOI%|
In the last two full seasons, the Leafs have gotten less than satisfactory production from their bottom six forwards. To their credit, however, if Orr/McLaren are removed from the lineup in 2013-2014, that collective Points/60 rises dramatically. Also, the production from the 2011-2012 group was held back by the fact that too many forwards suffered from a low PDO.
Given this information, the next step is to examine the probable bottom six forwards for 2014-2015 and the production we can expect based on their averages over the past three years. As you can see, the numbers are promising:
|2014-2015 Bottom Six||GP||TOI/60||5v5 Points/60||5v5 Shots/60||CF%||CF% Rel||PDO|
There are some things to keep in mind here. First, Matt Frattin is a very tough player to predict, as numbers over his 125 career GP have been all over the place due to a wildly fluctuating PDO. In that sense, his 1.39 Points/60 might be inflated by that torrid scoring pace from 2012-2013. We also have only one season of data to work with for each of Bodie and Komarov, so there is a chance that their positive numbers could change wildly at any time. As for Santorelli, his possession numbers have been (positively) stagnant over the past three seasons, but his usage has not. We also need to wait and see on players on which we have too little or no data (Josh Leivo, Carter Ashton, and Petri Kontiola to be precise).
If these players are indeed "locks" for the projected bottom six, the Leafs have a foundation in place for very productive third and fourth lines. Hell, it might even be a major improvement upon anything Leaf fans have seen in a while. We just need to hope and pray that Colton Orr and his non-existent production will not slip into this lineup and drag the figures down.
Pfft, who am I kidding?