Guys like LaRose are typically fan-favorites on many teams. He doesn't score a lot but he does a lot of the little things that help you win games like killing penalties and winning battles along the boards. He is a regular fixture on the Canes third line and has provided solid secondary scoring for them for the past four years or so. However, it was during the last two seasons when I began to be more impressed with LaRose as a two-way player. Him, Sutter and Cole saw the toughest competition among forwards in 2009-10, and LaRose took on tougher zone starts compared to previous years. He also did a pretty damn good job territorially in that role which made me value him more as a two-way forward instead of just a secondary scorer. In this post, we're mainly going to be focusing on LaRose's offensive production which unfortunately isn't a lot, but not bad for someone in his role. Can we expect him to build on the 31 points from last year or well he have yet another 11-goal season?
LaRose's scoring patterns are a little strange going by the basic numbers but they become a lot clearer when you look at things a little closer. First off, he was hurt for a good portion of the 2007-08 and 2009-11 seasons so that's obviously going to have an effect. LaRose also didn't begin to shoot the puck more until 2007-08, which when he finally broke that damn 10-goal mark. He then saw a significant upswing the next season when he played nearly a full season and saw his shooting percentage sky-rocket to 11.1%, way above his career and the league average. He was then hurt for a good chunk of the 2009-10 season and saw his goal total and shooting percentage go down but it raised back up the next year when he was healthy. Going by this we can determine that LaRose's production will be determined by his ice time, how much he shoots the puck and if he's able to stay healthy for a full year.
Now, that information is mostly considering his goal total. His overall points (along with his +/- which we don't really care about) were affected by some pretty bad luck at both ends of the ice.
|Season||SF/60||On-ice Sh%||On-ice Sv%||PDO||Corsi Rel|
Stats courtesy of Behind The Net
LaRose was on ice for when a good amount of shots were on net, but his teammates (I'm blaming them because LaRose's shooting percentage is pretty normal) were not burying their chances and neither Cam Ward or Justin Peters were stopping the puck in their own end when LaRose was on the ice. A PDO of 962 isn't terribly low but that on-ice shooting percentage is pretty abnormal and I have to think it had an effect on LaRose's point total. Especially when you consider that he was decent at driving possession despite fact that he started most of his draws in his own zone. Look for at least his assist and point total to come up if he's healthy/gets more ice-time.
The lockout possibly prevented LaRose from entering the league earlier, so I only looked for players with at least one year of AHL experience under their belt and either made their NHL debut at 23 or had their first full NHL season at that age. If I didn't then there wouldn't be many comparables here. LaRose is going to be 29 this season so it's kind of important to get the correct age for when these players entered the league. He was also undrafted so I kept that in mind.
|Avg. 82 Games||82||14||18||32|
It doesn't appear that LaRose will have a terribly good or bad year offensively when comparing him to similar players. When you have a player who is close to 30 years of age, has never been that much of a goal scorer and hasn't topped 35 points in his career, not much is going to change. LaRose's injury history also comes into question here (we've already had one scare of that) as his two recent "down years" were due to injuries. If we can get at least 70 games out of him then I would be satisfied.
Read the last paragraph I typed. I don't think we'll see that much change from LaRose this seaosn in terms of his offensive production, especially if he continues to get the tougher minutes. Yes, his point total was effected by some bad luck but LaRose is not that much of a goal-scorer so a drop-off from the 16 goals he scored last year could happen. He's also not utilized that much on the powerplay so that doesn't really help him here. I'll be pretty happy if he has a season similar to last year seeing how he's a third liner and getting around 15 goals from someone in that position is pretty darn good. What I really hope is that he has a better year killing penalties, but that's another story.
Being generous with assists, but that's mostly because I don't see his on-ice shooting percentage staying so low forever. All in all, this would be a pretty solid year for #59.