Things I Shouldn't Have To Say



Shawn Horcoff is a legitimate number one centre in the National Hockey League. Those who say otherwise are either uninformed or willfully ignorant. There is simply no basis for claiming anything else. To demonstrate this, let's compare Horcoff statistically with some of the big guns in the Western Conference - the forward widely considered best on his team. Here is my completely subjective list:

Anaheim - Ryan Getzlaf
Calgary - Jarome Iginla
Chicago - Jonathan Toews
Colorado - Joe Sakic
Columbus - Rick Nash
Dallas - Brendan Morrow
Detroit - Henrik Zetterberg
Los Angeles - Anze Kopitar
Minnesota - Marian Gaborik
Nashville - Jason Arnott
Phoenix - Shane Doan
St. Louis - Paul Kariya
San Jose - Joe Thornton
Vancouver - Henrik Sedin

There are a few names that could be quibbled with there by some - Sakic, Morrow and Kariya come to mind - but I don't think there is any doubt that each of those players is a first line forward without qualification, and in my mind they represent the best talent on their particular teams. So, if Horcoff can fit somewhere near the middle of this group, there should be no reason for anyone to claim he's anything other than a first-line forward. Without further ado, let's look at a few of our measuring sticks from this past season:

Even-strength Points/60

Jarome Iginla - 2.85
Joe Thornton - 2.84
Henrik Zetterberg - 2.83
Marian Gaborik - 2.77
Jason Arnott - 2.65
Shawn Horcoff - 2.59
Ryan Getzlaf - 2.26
Brendan Morrow - 2.24
Paul Kariya - 2.18
Jonathan Toews - 2.17
Henrik Sedin - 2.16
Rick Nash - 2.01
Joe Sakic - 1.99
Shane Doan - 1.99
Anze Kopitar - 1.86

Quality of Competition - Rank on Team

Henrik Zetterberg - 1st
Shane Doan - 2nd
Rick Nash - 2nd
Joe Sakic - 2nd
Jason Arnott - 3rd
Jarome Iginla - 3rd
Marian Gaborik - 4th
Jonathan Toews - 4th
Shawn Horcoff - 5th
Anze Kopitar - 5th
Paul Kariya - 6th
Henrik Sedin - 6th
Ryan Getzlaf - 9th
Brendan Morrow - 11th
Joe Thornton - 12th

Goal Differential at Even Strength/60

Henrik Zetterberg - 3.77GFON - 1.89GAON = +1.88
Ryan Getzlaf - 3.59GFON - 1.99GAON = +1.60
Jarome Iginla - 3.68GFON - 2.21GAON = +1.47
Jason Arnott - 3.86GFON - 2.42GAON = +1.44
Joe Thornton - 3.18GFON - 1.83GAON = +1.35
Brendan Morrow - 3.27GFON - 2.08GAON = +1.19
Marian Gaborik - 3.47GFON - 2.39 GAON = +1.08
Jonathan Toews - 3.69GFON - 2.75GAON = +0.94
Shawn Horcoff - 3.14GFON - 2.67GAON = +0.47
Henrik Sedin - 2.80GFON - 2.53 GAON = +0.27
Paul Kariya - 2.88GFON - 2.88GAON = 0.00
Rick Nash - 2.34GFON - 2.40GAON = -0.06
Shane Doan - 2.72GFON - 2.99GAON = -0.27
Joe Sakic - 3.18GFON - 3.48GAON = -0.30
Anze Kopitar - 2.59GFON - 3.23GAON = -0.64

Powerplay Points/60

Anze Kopitar - 5.87
Ryan Getzlaf - 5.83
Marian Gaborik - 5.46
Jarome Iginla - 5.37
Henrik Zetterberg - 5.20
Joe Sakic - 4.88
Brendan Morrow - 4.77
Shane Doan - 4.72
Henrik Sedin - 4.68
Rick Nash - 4.55
Jonathan Toews - 4.29
Joe Thornton - 4.13
Shawn Horcoff - 4.00
Paul Kariya - 3.55
Jason Arnott - 3.46

Goal Differential Short-handed/60*

Joe Thornton - 0.00GFON - 2.59GAON = -2.59
Jonathan Toews - 1.91GFON - 5.09GAON = -3.18
Shane Doan - 3.83GFON - 7.23GAON = -3.40
Rick Nash - 0.92GFON - 4.90GAON = -3.98
Brendan Morrow - 1.15GFON - 5.18GAON = -4.03
Shawn Horcoff - 0.00GFON - 5.79GAON = -5.79
Henrik Zetterberg - 0.39GFON - 6.60GAON = -6.60
Marian Gaborik - 1.12GFON - 7.84GAON = -6.72
Anze Kopitar - 2.52GFON - 9.45GAON = -6.93
Ryan Getzlaf - 1.33GFON - 9.29GAON = -7.96

*Players not included due to insufficient TOI - Jason Arnott, Jarome Iginla, Paul Kariya, Joe Sakic and Henrik Sedin.

If we treat those four categories that all of the players qualify for (EV PTS/60, QUAL. COMP., EV GDIFF, PP PTS/60) as equal in importance, how are the players ranked? Like this:

1. Henrik Zetterberg
2. Jarome Iginla
3. Marian Gaborik
4. Ryan Getzlaf
5. Jason Arnott
6. Joe Thornton
7. Brendan Morrow
7. Joe Sakic
9. Rick Nash
9. Jonathan Toews
11. Shane Doan
11.Shawn Horcoff
13. Anze Kopitar
14. Henrik Sedin
15. Paul Kariya

So, to recap: Shawn Horcoff, when put in context with the best forwards of the other 14 Western Conference teams, finishes 11th. This isn't against the other teams best centres - Horcoff would be higher on that list - but against the best forwards. If we were to remove powerplay point production (where Horcoff, quite frankly, isn't on the same level as the best in the WC), his average ranking would be 8th- right in the middle.

Horcoff may not be an elite forward, the kind of guy who deserves consideration for the Hart Trophy almost every season, but he is one of the thirty-best centres in the NHL. I'd argue that if this were the original-six era, Horcoff would still have himself a career. He's that good.

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