Kyle Wellwood, pictured above, scored his first goal of the season the other night. Much has been made of Wellwood’s scoring slump this season, and with good reason: when Wellwood isn’t scoring, he’s not doing much else either. He doesn’t provide reliable defensive play, he doesn’t bring size, and he doesn’t bring any kind of physical presence either. The interesting thing is that his points scoring at even-strength this season actually fits nicely with his historic numbers. Here are his even-strength point totals, projected over 82 games, for this season and the past two:

  • 2007-08: 13 points
  • 2008-09: 16 points
  • 2009-10: 12 points

Wellwood was significantly better in an injury-shortened 2006-07; he hasn’t been the same player since having surgery for a sports hernia. In 2005-06, he was a marginally better player but even at his best he was never more than a middling player at even-strength. Where he’s compensated for it has been on the power play. Here are Wellwood’s projected power play numbers over the last couple of seasons:

  • 2007-08: 17 points
  • 2008-09: 14 points
  • 2009-10: 4 points

It’s pretty clear where Wellwood’s offence has dropped off this season: he hasn’t been nearly as effective on the power play this year as he has in seasons past. But the fact of the matter is that even in years past he hasn’t been bringing enough power play offence to compensate for his lack of even-strength scoring. Consider last season. Wellwood put up 1.09 PTS/60 at five-on-five last year, which ranks him 372nd in the NHL among players with more than 10 games played. To put that in perspective, that means 78% of NHL players in 2008-09 were more likely to record ap oint on any given shift. He only improved marginally on the power play – his 3.07 PTS/60 five-on-four ranked him 195th in the NHL among forwards with more than 10 games played and an average of more than 1:00 per game on the power play. That means that 72% of players in the league who were used on the powerplay were more likely to record a point on any given shift.

When the Canucks snagged Wellwood off waivers in the summer of 2008, I was a fan of the move:

I really like this pickup from a Canucks perspective- Wellwood may not rebound, but if he does, he can help out on the powerplay a lot, and score against the softies at even strength, something that the Canucks could not do last season.

At the time, it was very low risk gambling with a potentially high reward. That isn’t the case any more – now, the Canucks are gambling a roster spot and a fair amount of ice-time on a guy who may or may not rebound to the level of ‘mediocre’. The Canucks had all of last season to watch Wellwood, and they’ve had a quarter of this year where he’s gotten even worse. He’s now had better than two seasons to prove he can be the player he was before the surgery in 2007. He isn’t. He’s a liability at even-strength, and he doesn’t bring enough to offset it with the man advantage.

The Canucks should replace him.

Comments (22)

  1. …….Because he always picks up the tab at the all you can eat buffets? :)

  2. JW-first off, I agree. Wellwood is entirely unimpressive from a statistical perspective (and an athletic perspective too) and the Canucks could probably use the ice time to develop someone who would be better than KW.
    Why is he on the team?
    1-theoretical offense (ie potential)-he sure looks like he might be awesome with the puck. The stats don’t back it up but still,he looks slick.

    2-faceoffs-he is very good at those

    3-chemistry-nobody has ever said that Kyle Wellwood is an a$$hole. Look at that smile. His random production serves as inspiration to any no skill hack out there (hey! if Kyle can score a goal,maybe I can too?). Coaches love the guy cause he can be benched or sat without repercussion (ie-he is a motivational tool).

    4-shootouts-they don’t use him often but he is a weapon in this facet of the game.

    5-contract. He’s getting paid peanuts to fill space competently. Look at the Leafs if you think that is such an easy task.

  3. Remember when Kyle Wellwood was going to lead the Canucks in scoring and win them a cup? Same with Demitra, and Sundin, and…………..

  4. re: Kyle Wellwood: Why Is He Still in the NHL?

    Because he is a good hard player and a fast one at that plus he is good on the power play and is a good killer when Vancouver is down a man

  5. If he stuck around with Toronto, this conversation might not be going on right now. I loved this kid when he played for the Leafs, his speed was great, but in Vancouver he’s getting less attention… I wouldn’t mind seeing him come back to play for the Leafs, but I wouldn’t be paying premium for him and he shouldn’t consider himself a huge asset if he joined them.

    But hey, he’d be better than Wallin.

  6. Hagman1234:

    Actually, the numbers show that last year he wasn’t all that good on the power play.

    As for being a penalty killer, he’s had 29 seconds on the penalty kill this yer. That isn’t per game, either – that’s the entirety of his PK ice-time this season.

  7. …^^ LOL ^^ …. ya take that JW! he sure taught you a lesson! :) very insightful and well thought out, how does one come back from such a devastating blow to the Ol’ Ego like that?!…. :)

  8. Kyle Wellwood is garbage. He is out of shape, lazy and has no work ethic. He is a defensive liability, and IMO not worth it for the extra 12 points he might get your team. I’d rather have one of the dinosaurs of the league that can fill minutes without being a liability, and at the same time be helpful in the dressing room. While he may be making “peanuts” as far as the nhl goes, he is still getting six figures a year to be less than mediocre.

  9. donkeypunch:

    But first, can you tell me why you’re hitting yourself? ;)

  10. Wellwood isn’t great but he’s hardly the worst in the NHL

  11. Are you kidding? Kyle Wellwood is a star! He might be the only NHL player ever to have inspired a trending topic on Twitter.

  12. Doesn’t bring size? The man’s blood type is Ragu, he’d better be bringing size.

  13. I love that so far the best defense of Kyle Wellwood is “theoretical offense” and “shootouts, but they don’t use him often”. Jason Blake has awesome theoretical offense too.

  14. Thanks JW….. now my comment makes NO sense! ( as usual) ……. :)

  15. Wellwood is still in the NHL cause he can score and put up points. He’s just extremely streaky. case and point last year he came in on fire then did nothing the rest of the year till the post season. This year he’s still not scoring but now has to goals in his last few games.

  16. Come on JW… from the picture, everyone can Obviously tell what he’s thinking….. ” man, I”m gonna get me a double quarter pounder with cheese AND bacon after the game…… maybe 2!”

  17. He’s still in the lineup because he’s a responsible center who wins faceoffs and makes smart decisions with the puck. He’s +6 for the season, showing that he’s not the defensive liability he’s made out to be, and he has the tendency to score in streaks. I’m willing to bet that 10 games from now no one will be asking why he’s playing because he’ll go on a point-scoring streak.

    Anyone who questions why Wellwood is still in the lineup hasn’t been watching him play. No, he hasn’t put up points this season, but he’s become a well-rounded two-way player. No one’s going to mistake him for Ryan Kesler, but he’s a capable third-line center playing at a decently-low cap hit.

  18. Skeeter:

    He’s a plus-6 because when he’s on the ice the Canucks’ goalies have a .963 even-strength save percentage. He’s not magically making the goalies better; he’s getting lucky.

    I’ve seen the Canucks plenty over the past two years and Wellwood’s third on the batting order when it comes to playing tough minutes (behind a pair of very good centres in Sedin and Kesler) and he doesn’t carry the play even though he is third in the batting order.

    He’s a marginal player offensively, and nothing to write home about defensively.

  19. I completely agree that he’s not getting tough assignments, largely because he does have two excellent centres in front of him. As for him being marginal offensively, I would prefer the term streaky: he has 5 points in the last 5 games, 4 in the last 3.

    As for him getting lucky, he was also +2 for all of last season. All I’m trying to say is that he’s not a liability defensively as many people are fond of saying.

  20. [...] in scoring on Mytishchi Atlant with defenceman Jaroslav Obsut who did it in 11 fewer games.Wellwood struggled to score last season with the Vancouver Canucks.  He’s not an especially capable defensive forward, either – he [...]

  21. [...] Willis under Analysis, Opinion on May 15, 2011 It is perhaps understating things to say that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Kyle Wellwood. However, given my previous criticism of his play, I think it’s only fair that I acknowledge how [...]

  22. whoever wrote this article doesn’t know anything about hcokey

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