This is Milan Lucic showing the soft hands that have led some observers to suggest that the Bruins might have another Cam Neely on their hands, something that I’m a little less sure of.
I am unfortunately still knee deep in a trial, so I don’t have time to go on about this at length, but I don’t see Lucic shooting the puck enough to keep scoring goals at the rate he did in 2008-09 and, if he’s not scoring goals like he did in 2008-09, he’s not worth anything approaching that ticket.
The list of weird statistical things about Lucic is lengthy – six first assists and 15 second assists at evens last year, in addition to the very low shooting rate. As I assume most people reading this site will be aware, he was one of last year’s poster boys for shooting percentage on the poster team for it. It has to date, been all about shooting percentage with him. In order for him to be worth his new three year $12.25MM deal, he’s going to need to start taking shots with much more frequency – his 5ish ESS/60 is not the stuff of power forwards.
The interesting thing about all of this is that the Bruins clearly made a choice here: Lucic over Kessel. I’m pretty sure that I would have made a different choice. The unspoken question is this: how much can a player add to his shooting rates as he improves? Is 5ish ESS/60 when a player is 21 actually pretty respectable and a harbinger of future stardom? I don’t have an answer to this but I’m interested in answers.
Frequent commenter Bruce made a point at Lowetide’s arguing that Cam Neely and Rick Tocchet both had relatively few shots at 21, although we don’t know their TOI breakdowns so we don’t have rates to work with. Eyeballing the rosters, neither guys looks to me to have been getting Lucicesque minutes, which makes me think that their shot rates were probably considerably higher. I’m interested in any names of guys who were clear top sixers with low shot rates at 21 who later blossomed into guys who were taking a ton of shots. I’m somewhat skeptical that such beasts exist or that they are common. The smart money, I think, is on Lucic never living up to this deal.