Okay, as Oilers fans, there’s a few nagging questions as we start off this upcoming season. Not the least of which are the looming questions surrounding our ability to win faceoffs. Last season, it’s no secret that we were 25th in the league in faceoffs (with Kyle Brodziak). Further, it’s not a stretch to imagine what impact losing faceoffs had on both our penalty kill as well as our power play.
Without having to delve into much analysis, it’s abundantly clear that Shawn Horcoff is not only the best faceoff man on the Edmonton Oilers, but from the looks of it, the only faceoff man (except for perhaps Pouliot who is on IR). It’s not surprising to note that he also just happens to be our tallest and heaviest centerman on the team. As such, the question of how much do height and weight factor into winning faceoffs? As for the seemingly elusive art of winning faceoffs, speaking from absolutely no personal experience, I would surmise that a number of factors would come into play including: experience, technique, innate reflexes, cheats, and likely height as well as weight. So far, Shawn Horcoff has seemingly been unable to teach some of our younger centers the art of winning the draw. Perhaps, the lack of size down the Oilers middle might be partly to blame. From Gagner, Comrie, Brule, O’Sullivan, to Coglinao–all of these players top out at 5’11″ with weights ranging from around 180-190 lbs.
Here’s a list of our faceoff men last season by FO% and size:
- Shawn Horcoff (53.9%) 6’1″ / 208lbs
- Marc Pouliot (48.3%) 6’1″ / 195 lbs
- Sam Gagner (42%) 5’11″ / 191lbs
- Patrick O’Sullivan (38.3%) 5’11 / 190lbs
- Andrew Cogliano (37.2%) 5’10″ / 184lbs
It’s interesting that it’s plain to see that when these players are stratified by FO%, they’re also listed from biggest to smallest…
Here’s a list of the NHL’s top 20 faceoff men ranked by the total number of faceoffs taken during last year’s regular season:
Looking at the impact of Height vs. Faceoff %, here’s the chart:
Okay, here’s the Player Weight vs. Faceoff %:
Okay, so I concede that the data used in these graphs is of a limited sample size (n=20). After all, I had to manually input the data to an Excell file. However, in both the graphs, the trend lines suggest that height and weight both contribute to faceoff %. Further, there was a small correlation (0.26) between faceoff % and height along with a medium correlation for faceoff % and weight (0.38).
Bottom line: It’s pretty likely that the Oilers difficulties in the faceoff zone are largely a result of our lack of player size in terms of height and weight excluding Shawn Horcoff. Of note, among the 20 NHL players who took the most draws last season, the average FO% was 52.1%. Additionally, the average size of these players was 6’1″ and 205lbs. Though our team is fairly young, the vets don’t offer much in terms of grit either.