Ryan Johansen made enormous strides last season. The 22 year old forward managed to produce 2.01 points/60 at even strength, 4.78 points/60 on the man advantage and contribute on the penalty kill as well. The elusive centerman evidently played an important role in Columbus clinching their second playoff birth in franchise history as well as being a big part of their impressive first round showing versus the highly touted Pittsburgh Penguins.
Unfortunately, the off-season hasn’t gone nearly as smoothly for neither Johansen or the Columbus Blue Jackets. We are now just weeks away from the start of the 2014-15 NHL season and the Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to strike a deal with the highly coveted restricted free agent. It has been reported that Jarmo Kekelainen and the Blue Jackets would prefer a 2-3 year bridge deal in the $3.5 million range while Johansen and his agent are seeking a deal at around the $6.5 million mark. A riled General Manager in Kekelainen has since responded to the situation.
“We like the guy a lot. He is a big part of our future. But this shouldn’t be about a setting a new standard (for a player coming out of his entry-level contract), or an agent breaking records”
With training camp looming, it is very possible that the two sides fail to reach an agreement while Johansen misses camp and potentially a portion of the regular season. If the latter result does in fact come to fruition, what would be the residual effect on Columbus’ on-ice performance? To find the answer we must delve into Ryan Johansen’s 2013-14 season on a much deeper level.
We can test Johansen’s effectiveness at even strength by analysing his possession numbers. It is imperative that we adjust for usage variables such as the quality of his teammates, competition and his zone starts since they all impact observable Corsi rates at varying degrees. One way of doing do so is through the use of a Deployment Table. In this table, we can identify Johansen’s closest equivalents (in terms of usage) by finding the average number of standard deviations each comparable player’s usage variables (QoT, QoC, Zone Starts) deviate away from his own. This will identify a select number of forwards (200+ min 5v5 TOI) who were deployed in a very similar fashion to Johansen. We can then compare Johansen’s results to theirs and develop a sense of how he performed given the difficulty of his minutes.
This is how Johansen’s Corsi For per 20 minutes last season compares to his 20 closest usage equivalents (Note: Last column indicates the average number of standard deviations each player’s usage variables deviates away from Johansen’s).
In terms of shot-attempt generation, Johansen bests all but 6 of his closest 20 comparable forwards. The median CF20 of his 20 closest usage equivalents is 17.120. This means that last season, we can loosely assume that Ryan generated about 0.907 shot-attempts more per 20 minutes than you’d expect from a forward deployed in a similar fashion.
Next, of course, is Johansen’s Corsi Against per 20 minutes and seeing how that fares among his 20 most comparable forwards.
On the defensive side of the puck, Johansen outperforms 9 out of 20 forwards used comparably. It’s safe to assume that Ryan was essentially an average shot suppressor last season. In this case, players with similar usage had a median CA20 of 17.769. Thus we can approximate that Johansen exceeded expectations by about 0.105 shot-attempts against per 20 minutes.
What does this all mean? The end result suggests that Johansen drove possession by around 1 shot-attempt per 20 minutes in 2013-14. Over the course of his 1104 minutes at even strength, his overall Corsi impact was likely in the ball park of 55 shot-attempts versus what you’d expect from the average forward given identical usage. Is Columbus’ 2014-15 season completely dependant on his presence in the lineup? No. Johansen is a decent player who is just entering the prime years of his career. A valuable asset to the Blue Jackets and he should be a key piece moving forward. However, considering the fact that he’s only been good possession wise and his production hasn’t been great prior to last season’s sudden spike in shooting percentage, it is completely understandable that Columbus has decided to proceed with caution and utilize their leverage in this prolonged stalemate.
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