Troy Terry, the Gunslinger
Troy Terry is a young player that many Anaheim Ducks fans have tremendously high hopes for. After an excellent college career, he went on to beat up the amateur players in the last Olympics. Looking lost and out of place in his first NHL stint, he was sent back to the AHL to work on his game and the skills he learned in the big show allowed him to put together an excellent showing. This buoyed play continued somewhat once he returned to the NHL. Coming into this season, it was reported by Elliott Teaford, that the current coaching staff would place Terry alongside Ryan Getzlaf upon top line.
Most fans would have been extremely optimistic at this news, however, the question also remained as to who would score the goals on that line? Who would retrieve the puck? Those who may have read previous articles of mine would note that I have a certain idea’s regarding line constructing: a) that each player complements the others and b) that each player is given a role that they can make their own.
For much of his career to date, Terry has been primarily used in a playmakers role. From way back in 2011-2012 and bantam hockey, Terry has had only the single season in which he has exceeded the 20 goal plateau (22 goals in 2016-2017, Univ. of Denver), yet multiple where he has eclipsed 20 assists per season. Thus, how would a pass-first player fair on a line on which the pivot is one of the best passers in the game? Would their skill sets complement each other, allowing the line to become heavy on puck movement and opening up the ice, or would the players get in each other’s way and prevent genuine scoring chances.
From the games played thus far, it appears the answer is both. Firstly, and perhaps most notably, Terry has been the primary shooter on a number of plays. This seems to be the coaching staff’s answer to a lack of high-end goal scorers on the team, and particularly given the fact that Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg appear to be set riding shotgun to the other high profile youngster on the team, Sam Steel.
A shooting Terry may have some benefits to it, in that with another threat on the ice, teams won’t simply be able to hone in on Getzlaf and shut him out of the game. This may even carry over to the power play, in that if teams are aware that Terry will shoot, then perhaps Getzlaf gets a little more time and space to let off his own underrated shot. A shot we saw score against the LA Kings the other night.
Specifically, Terry attempted 3.27 shots per 60, and 7.33 individual Corsi attempts per game last season in the NHL. So far this preseason we’ve seen those totals climb to 6.09 shots per 60, and 12.18 individual Corsi attempts. These increases in individual shooting metrics predictably correlate to increases in some related statistics.
Namely the massive increases in Terry’s individual scoring chance % (8.12 from 4.99 per 60 minutes of play), high-danger chances for (4.06 from 2.34 per 60 minutes of play) and expected goals for (0.76 from 0.38 per 60 minutes of play). A near doubling of his shooting metrics is a clear change in usage from one season to the last, and while #Terryisverygood may be the hashtag making the rounds in certain circles, do these stats tell the entire story?
Terry’s shot in itself isn’t a particularly threatening shot, as evident by his lack of career goal-scoring at any level, it is certainly effective enough to net him 10-15 in an NHL season. Yet, the Kings found it easy to deal with the other night. During one particular sequence of play, Terry fired off two separate shots. The first was slow enough to get off that the Kings defenceman was able to make the decision to block the shot.
The second was perhaps even slower to get off, and the Kings defencemen actively chose to move out of the way and give his netminder a clean look at stopping it. These shots all came on his off-wing side. With that said, Terry did rip a wonderful shot off his natural wing, as Getzlaf took the puck around behind the net and fed him the puck at the circle. This would likely be the shot that gains him the most tallies, and it really was a dangerous looking opportunity.
It’s also worth noting that a 10-15 goal scorer isn’t much of a threat on a top line. It allows the defense two options: a) they shut down Getzlaf, and see if the rest of the line can do enough damage to hurt them, or b) they shut down everyone else and see if the aging Getzlaf can beat them all by himself. Either option has it’s merits and either option puts the Ducks in a tough spot if their other lines cannot come through with the goods for whatever reason.
Perhaps more pertinent is that while Terry has individually increased his shooting metrics, the on-ice product of the Ducks while he’s out there has taken a significant dip. Thus far in the preseason, Terry has been largely paired with Captain Ryan Getzlaf, although the left-wing slot has changed somewhat game to game.
Getzlaf, of course, has a solid history of having positive shooting metrics of the course of his long career, and despite aging seemingly has some left in the tank. Thus, it’s worth noting that while Terry has individually improved his outputs by nearly double, so too has the on-ice product been nearly halved. The Ducks, while Terry is on the ice, have dipped their on-ice scoring chances to 30% from last season’s 48.2%, and their high-danger chances to 27.3% from 46% last season.
Without looking too deeply, it’s worth mention that Terry himself, is currently ranked as the worst of the Ducks forwards in terms of shot metrics (Corsi for % = 32.1%), the fourth-worst with expected goals against (3.48 per 60) and 3rd worst for expected goal total. Only Sam Carrick and Chase De Leo rated lesser results than he has thus far. For those interested in some of the newer metrics, Terry’s average gamescore thus far this preseason is 0.10 which is pretty uninspiring for someone so wildly hyped.
Getzlaf, the Anaheim Ducks best forward and Terry’s present linemate are also currently sitting below 50% for Corsi For % and expected goals. So too are all of the other players Terry has been paired with. However, each of them all has positive metrics when away from Terry himself. That is to say that Terry, at least up until the most recent pre-season game (vs the Kings), has been somewhat detrimental to his line-mates ability to score despite the positive changes presented at face value.
One important caveat is the most recent game against the Kings. In this game, Terry had no individual attempts at the net until the third period and very few overall. In this game, his lines output was far superior to what it had presented over the past preseason games. While almost certainly a product of convenient coincidence and score effect, it is also worth noting that when Terry did start to shoot the puck in the 3rd frame (and he had a wonderful chance at one point) his lines dominance began to wane.
Thus, these data points, with the underlying knowledge that this is only preseason, may suggest that playing Terry as a shooting option is a net negative for the Ducks as a whole. While I certainly don’t think that two pass-first players are an optimal choice on a line without a genuine scoring threat, attempting to manufacture a goal scorer doesn’t appear to be working thus far and they may be better rewarded by allowing Terry to be a passing option and exploring a trade option for a scorer.
I think it would be interesting to see if having two strong passing players on a line would work with a dynamic goal scorer and would certainly be a consideration if the price on Patrick Laine came down enough for Bob Murray to consider placing a bid. However, given the current construction of the Anaheim Ducks and the pieces they have to work with, I can’t help but wonder if Terry’s greatest value is as trade bait for a big fish. That, of course, is a debate for another day.