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.