Gus Katsaros

Hockey Analytics

print article archives RSS

Supportive Sheary

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Undrafted winger and former University of Massachusetts product, Conor Sheary stamped 2017-18 as his breakout year, after being a long shot to make it to the NHL, let alone to make an incredible impact.

 

I’ve marveled at the undersized winger’s skillset ever since he showed his potential impact to the Penguins. Less in a scoring role, he is an integral part of the tenacious Pittsburgh Penguins forecheck, converting retrieved loose pucks and forcing turnovers into passes parlayed to talented teammates creating scoring chances. Fiercely combative, he possesses a stealth capability in getting to soft areas to exploit excellent distribution capability from most common linemate, Sidney Crosby.

 

Editor's Note: Rotoworld’s Season Pass is now available for the low price of $19.99. You get plenty of extra articles including the minor league report, the junior report and much, much more. Buy it now!


This skillset meshes in today’s NHL and the ascension to earn important roles equates to a positive measurement across almost every statistical category - including microstats.

 

In fact, paying attention to the microstats amassed in the passing project would have triggered bells to show this is more than just a depth player.

 

The Penguins forward hit the scene in the 2015-16 amid multiple recalls from the AHL where he put up 36 points in 30 games (30-1-29-36). He started off in a depth role in the NHL to lining up with a couple of the world’s best centermen in Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

 

Entering Tuesday night’s action, Sheary led the Penguins in 5v5 scoring (3.1 P/60), earning a point on 82% of on-ice goals. A hot spell in January, scoring six goals in four games, that included three two-goal games, highlight career highs, playing alongside Sidney Crosby.

 

However, the 2016 playoffs really set Sheary apart, spotlighting the persistence chasing down the play and puck carrier, adapting a smaller frame for hard forechecking, pressuring opposing defensemen into hurry up plays, creating turnovers that are exploited by the Penguins support structure.

 

Sheary is often the first forechecker applying initial pressure to retrieve the puck back for his team, but also transitions well from a support role in the structure to become the forechecking torpedo as positions shift in the offensive zone. The area underneath the goal line is his office, only in a much lesser vein than that of Gretzky.

 

Using data from the passing project, we can isolate Sheary’s contributions to plays from behind the net, where most of the hard forechecking occurs.

 

Sheary was 24th in the NHL with 3.15 behind The Net shot contributions per 60 minutes. Placing among the contemporaries in this group of players is remarkable. Even when panning across a variety of different passing data, Sheary consistently listed among the best – and this is all before the playoffs began. Anyone keeping tabs here saw the available talent. Coach Mike Sullivan who took over coaching duties earlier in the season moved Sheary up the lineup.

 

Behind the Net Shot Contributions per 60, meaning being involved in passes leading to shot assists in a passing sequence originating from behind the net.

 

View post on imgur.com

 

 

Passing across the ‘Royal Road’ or ‘slot line’, an imaginary space that splits the offensive zone in half, and conceptually developed by Steve Valiquette, has correlated to having an impact in scoring. Intuitively, correct because getting a goaltender to move from one side of the net to the other is vital to creating openings that pucks can sneak through.

 

Sheary is among league leaders in passes created across the Royal Road per 60 minutes (RRC/60), trailing only passing master Henrik Sedin. Keep in mind these are stats accumulated away from playing a front line role.

 

In fact, Sheary is one of the league’s best according to the 2015-16 data. Going into the playoffs, Sheary had already developed a pedigree of contributing positive passing to teammates. William Nylander is another exceptional talent in this regard, with a small sample, but at the bottom of that list is Jannik Hansen, picked up by the San Jose Sharks at the march trade deadline.

 

View post on imgur.com

 

 

The difference where he’s placed in the lineup pre and post the spring 2016 playoffs is night and day. He was assigned and recalled from the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins five different times in 2015-16, the final coming in mid-March.

 

Ryan Stimson, the founder of the passing project and pushing the study of player position and passing impact on today’s game offered a metric to judge primary player points and predictability. Passing has an immense importance on creating goals and primary points emphasizes skill and impact. Among players ranked by expected primary points, Sheary ranks among some exceptional talent.

 

View post on imgur.com

 

 

Fast forward to a 2016-17, Sheary is a team leader, lining up alongside Sidney Crosbyputting up scoring numbers in an accelerated rate. His season was interrupted by a 13-game absence with an upper body injury that cost him the month of February, after he missed seven games early in the season due to an eye injury.

 

Topping the Penguins in 5v5 Points per 60 is accompanied by a fairly high PDO (aggregate of on-ice shooting and save percentage), while outperforming his expected goals by a 1.21 factor (21% better than his expected goals. A 10% on-ice shooting percentage is higher than team and league averages, and to sustain a 12.10% individual shooting percentage is next to impossible.

 

View post on imgur.com

 

Still, should the scoring somehow dry up, the undersized Penguins speedster has developed into one of the best torpedo impact players in the NHL. The forechecking tenacity is accompanied by a sheer will to getting to loose pucks, and soft areas of the ice to exploit a lethal one timer.

 

Flanking the best center in the world doesn’t require much to be successful, but Sheary’s impact mirrors and compliments, Crosby almost entirely. They have similar drive and the only difference being the world class hands, feet and elite skills on the captain.

 



Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey
Email :Gus Katsaros



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Dose: Zeke Smashes 49ers

    Dose: Zeke Smashes 49ers
  •  
    Dose: Raiders Win Thriller

    Dose: Raiders Win Thriller
  •  
    RotoPat: Week 7 Rankings

    RotoPat: Week 7 Rankings
  •  
    Dose: Diggs Not Practicing

    Dose: Diggs Not Practicing
  •  
    Power Rankings: Saints Rise

    Power Rankings: Saints Rise
  •  
    Waivers: Top Dallas RB?

    Waivers: Top Dallas RB?
  •  
    Dose: Mariota Wins in Return

    Dose: Mariota Wins in Return
  •  
    Dose: Vintage Peterson

    Dose: Vintage Peterson