I posted an article yesterday about Jean-Francois Jacques and his effect on Shawn Horcoff and Patrick O'Sullivan. The final conclusion was that Jacques' game is not suited to NHL play at this point. He's getting overwhelmed and he's dragging his teammates down with him. There weren't many comments on the article, but I did get a handful of emails, all in defense of Jacques' play. Most of them were of the "stats don't tell the whole story" mindset, Only one particular reader that e-mailed me made a thought-out argument against the numbers. He asked if Jacques was really playing that poorly because he really likes what Jacques brings to the team with his physical play. "No other Oilers make the other team look over their shoulder and you can't quantify that," he wrote. His viewpoint is that the big hits create fear in the opponent and the effects of those hits change the entire game. That may be true, but the rest of Jacques' game is so thoroughly lacking, that it's JFJ that should be looking over his shoulder -- to see if his pink slip is coming. If opponents were afraid of Jacques, or perhaps changing their game because of Jacques, then their on-ice performance should slip and it would show in the numbers. That's not the case. In fact, it's the opposite in an extreme manner.
I used Vic Ferrari's timeonice tool (an excellent resource to explore the impact of shot data on the game) to find Jacques' effect on every single player on the roster this year. The table below shows each player and their even strength shots ratio without Jacques compared to their even strength ratio with Jacques. At the right is their even strength GF-GA on without and with Jacques. The data leaves little to the imagination concerning Jacques' on-ice effectiveness or lack thereof -- he's not getting it done, and he's bringing his linemates down a level or two.
||Shots Ratio||ES +/- ON
||ES +/- ON|
||w/ Jacques ||w/o Jacques
Note: I've left Cogliano, Potulny, Moreau, Penner, Stone and Comrie off of the list as Jacques has spent little to no time on the ice with that group.
Every single player on the team gets outshot while on the ice with Jacques. Players that normally outshoot their opponents (Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagner, Souray, Visnovsky) see their ratios fall off, sometimes to a drastic measure, while on the ice with Jacques. Players that are already being outshot (Stortini, Staios, Grebeshkov, Chorney) see their numbers plummet to downright misery when on the ice with Jacques.
Jacques is 24 year old now and healthy for the first time in years. Perhaps his development has been stunted so badly that he's going to need a year or two more to "get it". But the guy has 8 points in 94 games and by the above chart and other advanced stats is the worst player on the team, both traditional stats and advanced stats agree.
He should be in Springfield right now learning the game again. I'm sure that the Oilers don't want to waive him because they feel that someone will scoop him up and give him another chance. They're probably right. He's a big guy with great feet -- he'll keep getting chances until he's 30. However, given the numbers that Jacques is leaving behind, the Oilers should be looking for a replacement-level player to replace Jacques this summer. We can clearly "see what we have" and it's time to get rid of it.