There has been more than a lot of discussion on this site regarding Coach Barry Trotz and his ability, or lack there of, to coach offense as a head coach in the NHL. There seem to be two main complaints being levied against the head coach. The boring nature of watching his teams continue to play dump and chase hockey while the rest of the league has moved on post lock-out, and that his style of coaching hinders offensive production from offensive talent. It is this second aspect that I want to look into in this post.
Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions
So let's first look at some of the Free Agent acquisitions and trades that the Predators have made. I have pulled data on young talent leaving the organization and we will look at it in a second post I promise. This one just got really long.
While there haven't been any huge deals in the last few years, if Trotz's coaching style is hindering players ability to produce offensively we should begin to see it here. These players have been in multiple systems and played for several coaches. If Trotz is squeezing the life out of players, as is claimed, it should be fairly obvious by looking at their offensive numbers while here, and then comparing those numbers to the rest of their career.
Jason Arnott - Arnott was a .75 point per game player for his career in the NHL. I think it is safe to say that qualifies as an offensive player. There is only one other player to have played significant time here that has better career offensive numbers, but we will get to him in a second. Let's get back to looking what Trotz did to hinder Arnott's offensive production.
Arnott amassed 229 points in 275 games as a Predator. His second highest point total of his career was here during the 07-08 season. The very next season he tied his season high for goals in a season with 33. He spent 4 years here and was a 0.83 point per game player. Somewhat above his career numbers. If Trotz was hindering his ability by his coaching style, or his system, it sure didn't show up in the stats.
Mike Fisher - Fisher is currently a .54 point per game player for his career in the NHL. Not an offensive dynamo, but a respectable forward that plays a good 2 way game and is valuable because of his ability to play in all situations.
Since joining the Preds, Fisher has scored 126 points in 171 games. the second highest point total of his career game during 11-12 season. This same season he also posted his second highest season goal total as he scored 24. Only one goal behind his career high for goals scored in a season. Again, is Trotz hurting Fisher's play? For his career he is a .54 point per game player. While with the Predators he is currently sitting at .74 point per game. That is a pretty large jump. a 16.5 points per season jump. Well let's keep looking because Trotz's style isn't hurting Fisher's play either.
Steve Sullivan - The fan favorite of trade moves, Sully was a career .74 point per game player. If he could have stayed healthy he may have aproached the 900 point mark. A pretty good player especially for his size.
While as a member of the Predators Sullivan scored 263 points in 317 games. He had the second highest point total of his career in the 05-06 season when he scored 68 points. 05-06 was also his second highest goal total in his career. 0.83 points per game as a Predator is again an increase over his career numbers. I am not seeing anything here that would point to Trotz stifling his productivity.
Paul Kariya - The best offensive player to ever put on a Predators jersey was a 1.0 point per game player over his career. A real offensive threat that came excruciating close to the 1000 point plateau.
While a member of the Predators he scored 161 points in 164 games. He had the 4th highest point total of his career while here in 05-06 with 85 points. 4th might not sound real impressive but this is a former 100 point scorer and was his highest point total since the 99-00 seasons when he had 86. He was only here for 2 seasons but his performace of above a point per game in 05-06 says that Trotz's system had absolutely no impact on Kariya.
J.P. Dumont - Dumont was a .64 point per game player over his career.
While a member of the Predators Dumont scored 267 points in 388 games. He had both his career high for points in a season, assists, and goals as a member of the Predators. His last 2 years in Nashville we're marked with some dificulty as he saw his ice time cut more and more. All of this after suffering a concussion. It should be noted that he never played with any other team after seeing his minutes cut here. Dumont saw his production increase from .64 career to .69 while a member of the Preds. Since we may never know how much of an impact the concussion had on JP i think this is another case of a player having his best years as a Predator under Trotz.
Sergei Kostitsyn - a .50 point per game player for his career, He was in no way considered a real offensive talent before arriving here.
SK scored 108 points in 197 games while a member of the Predators. Setting career highs for goals, points, assists, and games played in the 2010/2011 season in which he scored 50 points. Almost doubling his previous season high for points. He followed the next season with another solid campaign posting 43 points on the season. Here is another player that had his best career years under Trotz.
Paul Gaustad - Goose should in no way be considered an offensive threat over his career, a .35 point per game player for his career, it is worth looking at his production while a member of this team.
Gaustad is the first player we have looked at that has seen a real reduction in his productivity on offense while a member of the team. His 16 points this season is right at half his production while a member of the Sabres. He is being used in quite different situation here and has seen his scoring fall off as a direct result. He has 25 points in 107 games as a Pred and his 16 points this season is considerably below his output prior.
Matt Cullen - Cullen is a .52 point per game player for his career. A decent 2nd line center he was brought in this year to shore up the forward lines and to add more #grit to this team.
Cullens offense has fallen slightly this year as he has 32 points in 71 games. His current 0.45 points per game, is below his career average, but is not the worst season he has seen, and at 37 years old it should be expected to see a fall off in his play. Trotz may have some impact on his numbers this year, but they are not significantly less considering his age.
Viktor Stalberg - a young .40 career point per game player Stalberg was viewed by some as being the big offseason acquisition this last summer.
Stalberg has certainly struggled this season with the Predators. He has fallen from 43 points in 79 games in the 11-12 season, and 23 points in 43 games in the shortened strike season last year. How much of that is inflated expectations for a young forward? It is hard to tell. He was injured to start the season and has never really found his groove. Trotz's style may be having a drmatic impact on a young fast forward, but his numbers this season echo some of what the Chicago faithful have said about him. He lacks a finishing touch and when coupled with reduced minutes it is showing. His shooting percentage is right there at his career average, but the way he is being used has to have some impact on his performance. He currently has 18 points in 64 games for a .28 point per game average.
Eric Nystrom - Here is another player that is in no way an offensive minded forward. Career wise Nystrom is only a .22 point per game player.
This season with the Preds has been a productive one for a Nystrom. He is currently tied for his career point total, and is one goal short of his career high for goals in a season. his scoring has increased to a .29 point per game level. Not a difference maker on offense, getting points from Nystrom would be money in the bank on most teams. This is the type of player that convential wisdom would say would benefit the most. So take this as you may.
Is it coaching?
So out of the 10 players that I presented in this post, only 2 of those players can really be pointed to as seeing their production drop while being coached by Trotz. Stalberg and Goose both have seen production fall while here, although the window on Stalberg is quite small it is something to consider. Based on players coming from other systems I would say that Trotz has either increased their productivity, or at least maintained it, as a whole.
Could the problem be that there have not been enough of players like Arnott, Sully, and Kariya? For sure there are more. We could look at Joel Ward, but as he only played in 11 NHL games prior to coming here, I think it is better suited for the next post when we look at the productivity of players that have left Nashville for greener pastures.
When I look at these numbers I see a problem with free agent acquisition, as in not enough talent being brought in. The 2 players that have not produced are a .40 and .35 point per game players. There are issues with Trotz's coaching style for sure. It is hard to watch and is dependent on a solid blue-line and goal keeper, but when he has been given talent he has been able to coach that talent. The numbers above show that to be the case. I think it is time for Trotz to move on for a number of reason's (Playoff success, missing the playoffs for two seasons, reluctance to look outside the organization for coaching help) but I just don't see evidence on the whole of him stifling offensive talent when given it. The problem seems to be more that he hasn't been given it.
No poll on this one. I want to wait until after post 2 to get a feel for what you think. Feel free to fire away below though.