Spurred by this conversation at M&G, I decided to take a deeper look at one of the clubs more uninteresting acquisitions this summer: tough guy Tim Jackman. The 29 year old has scored all of 28 points in 191 career games and is known far more as a tough guy than a capable NHL player as a result. The assumption is that he was acquired to skate around for 5 minutes a night with a scowl on his face and little else.
A cursory look at his underlying numbers suggests that Jackman is indeed little more than a below replacement level enforcer type. Last year, his corsi/60 rate for the Islanders was absolutely ghastly: -20.16. That’s one of the worst rates in the league, so it would be defensible to write Jackman off as a musclehead.
A deeper look reveals some pretty harsh circumstances for the big guy though. Jackman also had one of the most merciless zone start ratios in the league at 33.8%. That was the toughest row to hoe in New York last year, with Richard Park being the only other guy below the 40% mark. And while Franz Nielsen was mostly taking on the big guns, Jackman wasn’t just facing the dregs: the various quality of competition metrics at behindthenet suggest at least middling opposition.
I decided to normalize Jackman’s 2009-10 corsi rate in order to get a better feeling for the player. It’s something I’ve done for Langkow in the past. For those unfamiliar, it’s correcting for the skewing effect of zone starts on possession. Here’s what I found for Jackman:
corsi rate/60: -20.16
raw corsi: -170.35
zone start differential (o-zone – d-zone): -93
normalized corsi (raw): -95.95
normalized corsi (rate/60): -11.36
Correcting for zone starts doesn’t bump Jackman into positive territory, but it does up his rate by 8.8 per 60 minutes of ice. That’s a fairly sizable jump and it speaks to the sheer difficulty of his circumstances. I went back three years to see how Jackman had fared for the Islanders previously and found that he’s only been fighting up hill for the last two. In 2007-08, Jackman only played 36 games, but his possession stats were much more palatable: +8.2/60 (fifth best amongst NYI forwards that season). What was the difference? A much saner zone start ratio (50%) and level of competition (bottom of the barrel).
It’s entirely probable that Jackman’s role with the Flames will be much closer to this latter situation than the ones he’s faced in NY recently. As such, I think he just might be able to hold his own (assuming the Brent doesn’t bury him to the same degree, of course).