March 11 2014 01:31PM
You can hardly go into a comments section nowadays without seeing some mention of TJ Galiardi - and most of them are, uh, not what one would call "positive".
Sure, he only has 2 goals and 12 assists in 49 games. At first glance, that isn't good enough for a typical third liner. But - there may be underlying reasons there, so we'll take a look at them. We'll also consider if the Calgary product is providing plus play in any of the areas that help you win games.
What's Up With His Scoring Rate?
Galiardi is scoring about 1.13 points per 60 minutes played. Of the 12 "regular" forwards (i.e. everyone who's played in more than ~45% of the games), he sits 10th - only Bouma (1.00) and McGrattan (0.91) are behind him. That doesn't seem to be the fault of where he is starting his shifts (49.5%, 6/12), who he is playing with (7/12), or who he is playing against (7/12).
However, it probably is the fault of one thing: his PP time, or lack thereof. If we shift from overall to 5v5, Galiardi's scoring rate improves considerably - 1.19 points per 60 minutes played, which ranks him 7/12. Intuitively, this suggests that a big reason that he doesn't have the point totals a player like Joe Colborne has is because he doesn't get the PP time other players are getting; even though Galliardi is probably a better player than Colborne.
It turns out that that is exactly what is happening. Galiardi averages about 40 seconds of PP time per 10 Flames power plays. The only forward with less PP time than Galiardi is McGrattan. Based on the team's percentage this year, that means that Galiardi is essentially being excluded from two goals per period of 5v4 action. That doesn't sound like a lot until you realize that there's been almost 30 goals that have been scored on the PP, meaning that Galiardi doesn't get a share in about 20% of the team's goals right off the hop.
His PDO is also awfully low: his 956 means he has been substantially unlucky this year. League average EVSH% this year is about 8.1%, his percentage is 7.3% (equivalent to about 4 goals for this season). League average goaltending at EV is about .919%, his is .884% (equivalent to about 9 goals for this season). If Galiardi has 5 goals, 17 assists and is only minus-1, I doubt we're having this conversation at all.
I think that if Galiardi saw more PP time (like he did in Colorado and San Jose), his scoring pace would increase by a substantial amount. Previous to this season, his PPG was about .41. Including this season, it's about .38. That's a big drop off after only 50ish games, so I think that a.) Galiardi does have more scoring ability than we've seen (albeit to the tune of less than .1 PPG) and that b.) it is not the result of decline that he is scoring less.
Is He Providing Any Value, Then?
The reason I think the second thing? Galiardi leads the Flames forwards in shot attempt differential. He doesn't face the difficult circumstances Backlund does (2/12), but you can only play with and against who you are playing with and against - and on this team (~44%), anything breaking even (TJ is at 51.4%) is miraculous. You can only get wins through goals, goals through scoring chances, scoring chances through shots, and shots through shot attempts - so Galiardi leading the team is very positive. We know that shot attempt differential correlates highly with winning over the long run, so that's one of the areas Galliardi is providing plus value.
A little more on Galiardi's luck here - his shot attempt ratio is higher than his goals for ratio. That suggests, once again, that he is getting unlucky. A player with no luck - good or bad - would probably have a shot attempt percentage and a goal percentage that would be roughly equivalent (probably within a standard deviation).
There's another way Galiardi is providing value, but it isn't just "plus" - it's "best in the entire damn league". Galiardi's 1.4/60 Penalty differential is the best in the league this year when it's adjusted and 2nd overall when it's not at +17 (Duchene is 1st with a +20 ratio). What does this mean for the Flames and how does it provide value? Well, Galiardi has essentially created 3 goals for the Flames simply by playing hockey. If we take the Flames conversion rate on the PP this year and multiply it with his ratio, we get goals. Fun fact: I'm pretty sure the photo above resulted in a Flames PP.
Lastly - and I have zero numbers or evidence to back this up - but he is Fast. The capital "f" was intended. I can't recall the last time I saw him lose a race to a puck, simply because he moves so quickly and is so agile. I don't think his stride looks efficient (it probably isn't), but who cares when you're able to get where you need to go as quickly as he does.
TJ Galiardi might not score a ton of points, but he can't be completely at fault for that due to his lack of prime ice time. He has provided good value in penalty differential and shot attempt differential, and is fast as all hell.
I'll admit - I wasn't the biggest fan of Galiardi over the first 15 or so games but that was likely due to the function of small sample size in both numbers and game watching. Now? I think he's a fine player (still only 25!) and thus should be offered another contract.