Jeff Skinner vs. Adam Henrique

by Rick Roos on November 4, 2015 | (0 Comments)

Overachiever vs. Band-Aid Boy - who is the better fantasy hockey own, Adam Henrique or Jeff Skinner?

This week’s battle is between wingers Jeff Skinner and Adam Henrique. Is Skinner likely to taste fantasy success again, and is Henrique’s strong start for real? Let’s see what the numbers tell us - Cage Match starts now!

 

Career Path and Contract Status

 

It’s hard to believe Skinner’s breakout rookie campaign was five seasons ago, especially since only once has he subsequently managed to finish within 18 points of the 63 he posted as an 18 year old fantasy darling. But in that one other season (2013-14) he posted 54 points in 71 games on Hurricanes team that had already fallen to the NHL’s bottom third in goals scored. Unfortunately, poolies who jumped back on Skinner’s bandwagon were majorly disappointed, as in 2014-15 Skinner had by far his poorest season from a production standpoint – just 31 points in 77 games, leaving them to wonder if Skinner’s best days are behind him at the not so ripe age of 23.

Henrique, now 25, was drafted 83rd overall in 2008; but after posting point per game numbers in his next two WHL campaigns and a solid output in his one full AHL season, he landed in the NHL to stay by 2011-12. Like Skinner, Henrique made an immediate splash, posting 51 points in just 74 games for 0.69 points per game (tops among all rookies who played 70+ games that season), only to fall from fantasy grace with only 16 points in 42 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. And although he didn’t rebound as strongly as Skinner did in 2013-14, Henrique’s 86 points in 152 games over the past two seasons is actually neck-and-neck with Skinner’s 85 in 148, making this an intriguing match.

According to Cap Friendly, both players are signed through the 2018-19 campaign, with Skinner’s deal counting $5.725M per season against the cap versus $4M per season for Henrique.

 

Ice Time

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

2014-15

16:02 (J.S.) – 8th

17:44 (A.H.) – 3rd

2:06 (J.S.) – 5th

1:43 (A.H.) – 8th

0:00 (J.S.)

1:51 (A.H.) – 3rd (tied)

2013-14

17:11 (J.S.) – 4th

18:03 (A.H.) – 3rd

3:05 (J.S.) – 3rd

2:06 (A.H.) – 6th

0:01 (J.S.) – 14th (tied)

2:12 (A.H.) – 1st

2012-13

18:27 (J.S.) – 4th

18:19 (A.H.) – 4th

2:47 (J.S.) – 3rd

2:39 (A.H.) – 6th

0:05 (J.S.) – 12th

1:45 (A.H.) – 3rd (tied)

2011-12

18:37 (J.S.) – 2nd

18:09 (A.H.) – 5th

3:21 (J.S.) – 2nd

1:38 (A.H.) – 7th

0:13 (J.S.) – 10th

1:47 (A.H.) – 3rd

 

What jumps out for both players are their Ice Time rankings with respect to the other forwards on their teams. For Henrique, his Total Ice Time ranking has gone from fifth in 2011-12 to third last season; and through October he ranked first in Total and PP Ice Time among Devils forwards. Conversely, Skinner’s rankings among Carolina’s forwards had decreased or stayed the same with each passing season since 2011-12, with the result being a drop from second to eighth in Total Ice Time and from second to fifth in PP Ice Time. And things are still bad this season- through October he was stuck in seventh for Total Ice Time and sixth for PP Ice Time.

 

One key in knowing how sustainable Henrique’s start might be, is seeing whether his SH Ice Time falls below 2:00 per game and/or his PP Ice Time stays above 2:30, since as I’ve touched upon previously (including last week) no matter how talented a forward might be, if he’s saddled with more than 2:00 of SH Ice Time per game and less than 2:30 of PP Ice Time per game, he’s all but assured to finish with 45 points or less. How can I back up that statement? Only one in 59 forwards (i.e., just 1.69%) who fit both criteria in either 2013-14 or 2014-15 scored more than 43 points. Needless to say, watch Henrique’s Ice Time carefully, as the last time he met both criteria was 2013-14, on his way to posting………43 points.

 

In dissecting Skinner’s numbers, the key will be to focus on what went wrong last season, since he was able to post very good numbers in 2013-14 despite not enjoying that much more Total Ice Time than he had in 2014-15. Interestingly, Skinner received more Total Ice Time than his year-end average (of 16:07) in 23 of his first 28 games of 2014-15, on his way to posting 16 points (for a decent 47 point full season scoring pace). Then over the course of the next 19 games, Skinner tallied only three points while also having received more than 16:07 per game in only five of those 19 contests.

 

Maybe the explanation was in the team deemphasizing him while tanking? Yet if that was the case, why would Skinner’s Ice Time still be down now? The magic question is whether Skinner could produce if things were restored to how they were in 2013-14 – that is, if he was again given productive Ice Time with favorable linemates. And of course if those things can’t (or won’t) happen, then what?

 

Secondary Categories

 

Season

PIMs

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2014-15

0.23 (J.S.)

0.45 (A.H.)

0.61 (J.S.)

0.78 (A.H.)

0.15 (J.S.)

0.58 (A.H.)

3.05 (J.S.)

1.69 (A.H.)

0.09 (J.S.)

0.21 (A.H.)

2013-14

0.31 (J.S.)

0.26 (A.H.)

0.31 (J.S.)

0.95 (A.H.)

0.11 (J.S.)

0.65 (A.H.)

3.86 (J.S.)

1.78 (A.H.)

0.28 (J.S.)

0.15 (A.H.)

2012-13

0.62 (J.S.)

0.38 (A.H.)

0.50 (J.S.)

0.64 (A.H.)

0.26 (J.S.)

0.50 (A.H.)

3.78 (J.S.)

1.85 (A.H.)

0.21 (J.S.)

0.09 (A.H.)

2011-12

0.87 (J.S.)

0.09 (A.H.)

0.68 (J.S.)

1.12 (A.H.)

0.23 (J.S.)

0.77 (A.H.)

3.28 (J.S.)

1.75 (A.H.)

0.20 (J.S.)

0.11 (A.H.)

 

Each of the past three seasons has seen Skinner’s PIM drop considerably, with the result being a per game rate in 2014-15 barely a quarter of what he’d averaged just three seasons earlier. And although his Hits rebounded last season, they'd previously dropped each season since his rookie campaign. But the downward trend in these metrics might have deeper meaning, suggesting Skinner is playing with less fire in his belly, maybe due to concussion concerns or a prolonged atmosphere of losing surrounding the team. Whatever the reason, if, on top of not scoring, he’s no longer as physically engaged, that likely wouldn’t endear him to the team’s brass, with the end result being disadvantageous lower Ice Time, which in turn makes it even harder for him to score – a vicious cycle of sorts.

 

To make matters worse, in 2014-15 Skinner’s SOG per game also dropped considerably, to be even lower than his previous subpar seasons of season of 2011-12 and 2012-13. And things are even worse for 2015-16 thus far. Long story short, he’s not playing like someone who’s on the cusp of breaking out of a prolonged slump and isn’t giving the coaching staff an impetus to restore his favorable Ice Time and linemates, so the vicious cycle is likely to continue.

 

Henrique’s numbers have been pretty consistent year to year, which has meant a higher Hits output than Skinner each season along with much higher Blocked Shots; and he’s even managed to overtake Skinner in PIM, which is amazing considering that in 2011-12 Skinner had a nearly 10 times higher PIM per game rate as Henrique. Also, as Henrique’s PP output has increased in each of the past two seasons, Skinner’s fell off a cliff in 2014-15, although in Skinner’s defense his PP Ice Time was cut by a third and he was no longer a PP1 staple.

 

One area of concern for Henrique is SOG, as he failed to average two per game in any season and was barely above that threshold through October. The issue is among 60+ point forwards, there were only two wingers (Ondrej Palat, Mark Stone) who didn’t average 2+ SOG per game last season, and only one (T.J. Oshie) who didn’t in 2013-14. Clearly Henrique’s SOG rate bears just as much watching as his PP and SH Ice Times.

 

Luck-Based Metrics

 

Season

Personal Shooting Percentage

PDO/SPSV (5x5)

IPP (5x5)

IPP (5x4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5x5)

2014-15

7.7% (J.S.)

12.6% (A.H.)

949 (J.S.)

1011 (A.H.)

82.1% (J.S.)

67.6% (A.H.)

46.2% (J.S.)

75.0% (A.H.)

59.0% (J.S.)

47.0% (A.H.)

2013-14

12.0% (J.S.)

18.2% (A.H.)

983 (J.S.)

989 (A.H.)

77.5% (J.S.)

66.7% (A.H.)

63.6% (J.S.)

66.7% (A.H.)

66.7% (J.S.)

52.2% (A.H.)

2012-13

8.2% (J.S.)

14.1% (A.H.)

940 (J.S.)

972 (A.H.)

72.2% (J.S.)

50.0% (A.H.)

46.2% (J.S.)

50.0% (A.H.)

51.7% (J.S.)

47.9% (A.H.)

2011-12

9.0% (J.S.)

12.3% (A.H.)

993 (J.S.)

993 (A.H.)

72.5% (J.S.)

71.1% (A.H.)

76.5% (J.S.)

88.9% (A.H.)

55.1% (J.S.)

47.4% (A.H.)

 

This shines a light on Skinner’s 2013-14 rebound, as not only did he start a jaw dropping two out of every three even strength shifts in the offensive zone (third highest percentage among the 227 forwards who played 70+ games in 2013-14), but he also shot 12.0%, which is the only instance other than his rookie season when he eclipsed 9.5%. However, that’s not to say he benefitted from unsustainable luck across the board, as his IPPs were comparable to what he had in 2011-12 and 2014-15 and his PDO/SPSV was on the low end of normal, although in that case it was impacted by the lousy Hurricanes team around him. Overall, what this reinforces is Skinner seemingly could still be a 50 point player on Carolina if at least some luck was back on his side.

 

The only troubling number for Henrique is his OZ%, which has been in the 47% range three of the past four seasons. Although 47% isn’t terrible, it’s low enough to stand in the way of top production. Take last season for example – there were 105 forwards who played 60+ games and had an OZ% of 47.0% or lower, and none posted more than 60 points for the season. The good news is although it’s still very early, Henrique’s OZ% is way up; but if it slips below 50%, that could spell trouble.

 

Who Wins?

 

Henrique wins. Simply put, his time has come in New Jersey, as many players formerly ahead of him in EV and/or PP depth charts (Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Danius Zubrus, Jaromir Jagr, Damien Brunner, Ryan Clowe, Michael Ryder) are now out of the picture, allowing Henrique to seize his opportunity and show talent he apparently always had yet was unable to showcase back when he was receiving lower Ice Time. However, that’s not to say Henrique can keep up his current pace, or even post 60+ points this season. After all, there are potential red flags in Ice Time, SOG, and OZ%, and if any of those turn sour, his scoring could drop.

 

Meanwhile, Skinner is in a terrible chicken and egg situation where during last season he lost his Ice Time and favorable line placement and hasn’t been able to climb out of that hole. If Carolina – which needs all the offensive help it can get and seemingly no longer has motivation to tank– is content not playing Skinner in favorable situations, then there’s little hope for him rebounding again like he did in 2013-14. The wild card is a trade, as on one hand Skinner’s $5.75M cap hit through 2018-19 is not cheap, but on the other he’s still only 23 years old. If he can find his way onto a new team, that could be enough to rattle his cage and get him back to at least a semblance of the player he once was.

 

For that reason, I think now might be the time to try and land Skinner in a keeper league, especially if your squad is rebuilding. Henrique also might be a decent grab for keepers, but not until/unless he comes back to earth a bit this season, since once that happens, GMs could be quick to discount his excellent start as a fluke, when in truth Henrique is seemingly poised to be a solid producer for years to come if his metrics continue to cooperate like they have so far this season.

 

 

 

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