Usually when people hear the phrase ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, they think of that schmaltzy INXS ballad that was released in the late ‘80s.
Here in Ottawa, Kyle Turris should be employing the words as part of his recruiting pitch to encourage Alfie to play another season.
For years, the organization has tried to cultivate and develop an effective two-way center whose offensive skills lived up to the position. They had hoped that Mike Fisher would be that guy. He wasn’t. He was an exceptional third line center who never elevated the play of his skilled linemates. The Antoine Vermette experiment was short-lived, maybe too short-lived.. He was eventually dealt to the Blue Jackets for Pascal Leclaire and a second round pick that became Robin Lehner.
In the eight seasons that Jason Spezza has tallied more than 50 points, only once has he had another center tally 50-plus points in the same season. In fact, in the Senators’ 20 season existence, there have only been six seasons in which the team had two centers put up 50-plus points.
- 1993/94: Yashin (79) and Daigle (51)
- 1999/00: Bonk (60) and Prospal (55)
- 2000/01: Yashin (88) and Bonk (59)
- 2001/02: Bonk (70) and White (50)
- 2002/03: Bonk (54) and White (60)
- 2009/10: Fisher (53) and Spezza (57)
Coming off a season in which he tallied 12 goals and 29 points in the 49 games that he played for the Senators last season, there is some palpable optimism that Kyle Turris can be the productive second line center that the organization has lacked since Radek Bonk left. Case in point, NHL.com’s John Kreiser lists Turris as one of seven young candidates who are poised for a breakout season.
With Turris, it has never been a question of pedigree. Drafted third overall by Phoenix in 2007, the gifted center’s talent and tools were recognized at an early age. Unfortunately for Turris, his personal development as a player took a backseat to the success of the team.
Phoenix GM Don Maloney defended this position at the beginning of training camp by stating:
“Well I think Kyle believes in himself. He believes he’s a good player in this league and we’d certainly like more opportunity for him to show it.
But we’re not a developing team, we’re here to win, we’re here to win now. He showed a step forward in the playoffs last year. That’s why we’d like to get him back. We’d like to show that process and that step forward and the production we need out of Kyle Turris to be a good offensive player. But it’s not there yet… You have to perform before you get paid.”
After posting an impressive 5v5 production rate that was proportionate to his ice-time in the 2010/11 season, the move to Ottawa gave Turris the opportunity and supporting cast to thrive. Together with Daniel Alfredsson, the duo thrived in the puck possession game and permitted head coach Paul MacLean to match their line against the opposition’s best players.
For a player who missed training camp and the early stages of 2011/12 season while posturing for a trade, Sens fans are eagerly anticipating next season to see what an acclimated Turris can do. And in turn, Turris should be eagerly anticipating Alfie’s decision not to retire.Looking at the 5v5 numbers at HockeyAnalysis.com, here's what Turris did at 5v5 with and without Alfie.
|Turris + Alfie||524:12||21||.801||12||.458||.636|
|Turris - Alfie||260:02||8||.615||12||.923||.400|
|Alfie - Turris||514:44||24||.933||22||.855||.559|
From the numbers, it's apparent that Turris' production dropped slightly when Alfie was removed from his line. As expected, when you replace a player of Alfie's calibre with a Colin Greening or a Bobby Butler, production will inevitably diminish.
Conversely, you can explain Alfie's jump in production in the same manner. Usually, when he'd be removed from Turris' line, it was because Jason Spezza's line needed a spark. Alfie's possession skill brought a dimension to Spezza's wing that was otherwise lacking. Furthermore, Paul MacLean also had a tendency of using Karlsson and Kuba with the first line as five-man unit.
Despite a slight drop in offensive production, in looking at his corsi metrics, whenever he is apart from Alfie, his line still outchances the opposition. (Note: CF/20 stands for Corsi Events For per 20 minutes of ice-time. CA/20 represents Corsi Events Against per 20 minutes of ice-time. For those who aren't familiar with corsi, it is a proxy for puck possession that works like the conventional +/- but measures shot attempts - on net, blocked shots, missed shots.)
|Turris + Alfie||524:12||561||21.4||450||17.2||.555|
|Turris - Alfie||260:02||292||22.5||264||20.3||.525|
|Alfie - Turris||514:44||524||20.4||413||16.0||.559|
Albeit, Turris' line isn't as dominating as it is with Alfie on the right, it does give hope, despite the spike in goals against when apart from Alfie, Turris has the makings of a competent and productive two-way player going forward.
For the organization to take that next step towards eventual Cup contention, they'll need Turris to take the next step too (something something importance of depth down the middle). Fortunately for Ottawa, Turris is still very young and developing. Remaining in Ottawa to work out and prepare himself physically under the tutelage of Chris Schwartz is a great first step. Getting Alfredsson back to flank him, will be even better.
@RodneyDeweyBerg GF = Goals For; GA = Goals against. GF or GA/20 = goals for/against per 20 minutes of ice-time.
It's a small sample size over which Turris' development was more important than his production. He looked stronger on the puck and more confident with puck decisions deeper into the season.
I haven't looked at any sabermetrics for Fisher while in Ottawa, but his intangibles and physical game were a much bigger part of the Sens than his offensive production. Would think Latendresse was signed to be the physical element of the second unit.
Will be following HP's top 10 prospect series to see if Tarasenko projects to be a more important player than Turris.
@mparisi79 Believe I wrote something about that afterwards: http://www.the6thsens.com/2010-articles/september/mikefishersecondliner4141.html
@mparisi79 Second line player, for sure. But Second line Center? I personally don't think so.
@RyanH Well, don't take this the wrong way, but I'm more inclined to accept Mendes' statistically-supported argument over your personal opinion.
@RyanH Honestly, I'd like that too. But the numbers prove that's just not the way the league is any more. Even a cursory glance through this year's playoff teams tells that tale. I'd consider Vancouver a contending team, and Kesler only put up 49 points this season. Same number for Briere on the Flyers. Expectations of more than that just aren't realistic unless you've got All-Stars down the middle.
And if THAT'S your expectation, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment, you know?
@mparisi79 He makes good points, but if I'm a contending team, I'd fully expect more than an average of 45 points out of my second line center.
Wait, Stephane Da Costa is still relevant? ;)
Our problem whether Alfie retires or not is wingers not centers. Truth is we cannot keep moving Alfie between two lines and Michalek isn't enough. As much as I like Greening and sorta like Butler, these two aren't top 2 material or at least not first line material especially Butler. Spezza and Turris need more help to continue success especially young Turris
@SensDew19 All of Ottawa's best prospects are wingers. They may not be ready yet, but they're close to being top nine guys soon.
@Nichols6thSens I see big things from Silfver but that's too much pressure on him and Stone.... needless to say, best part of being in a "rebuild" is not having to worry too much about immediate results.
Sidenote: What are your thoughts on Mika's future?
@SensDew19 Mika's interesting b/c he could wind up playing the wing instead of center. Obviously Ottawa has a glut of talent on the wings in their system, so may be he's a piece that could be used to land a better or more established/promising player.
@jmikelittle Steven of Costa will get signed. He has no leverage.
Wouldn't it be Steven of the Coast?
I'm sure he would have liked to secure one of the patented Brian Murray 2 year, one way deals, but with the O'Brien signing that's probably out. The NHL centre jobs are more than spoken for.
His best move is likely to sign his QO, play his heart out in camp and in Bingo, and hope a call up is in the cards.
@Nichols6thSens Certainly when there are only what, 1 or 2 spots left under the contract limit?