What to Expect in 2010-11: Clarke MacArthur


The speculation after the Matt Lashoff trade a few days back was that it was a precursor to another move for the Leafs. Sure enough, Clarke MacArthur was announced as the newest Maple Leaf. At a cap friendly $1.1 million, MacArthur is being paid like a 3rd liner. Burke has other things in mind, recently stating to the Toronto Star that MacArthur will spend “significant time” on the top two lines this coming season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the kind of role we can expect from MacArthur. All stats not specifically referenced are borrowed from BehindtheNet.ca.

Clarke MacArthur spent the 2009-10 season on two teams, the Buffalo Sabres and the Atlanta Thrashers. With the Sabres, MacArthur racked up 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points in 60 games. After the trade to Atlanta, MacArthur had a bit of a cold spell, scoring only 3 times and getting 9 points in 21 games for the Thrashers. In the interest of using an accurate summation of the entire season, I will compare MacArthur to his linemates in both Buffalo and Atlanta. His frequent linemates in Buffalo and Atlanta were as follows (courtesy of DobberHockey.com):

18.94%            Tim Connolly – Clarke MacArthur – Jason Pominville

32.39%            Bryan Little – Clarke MacArthur – Rich Peverley

Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville are two of Buffalo’s biggest producers. Connolly finished with 17 goals and 65 points, while Pominville amassed 24 goals and 62 points. MacArthur’s 16 goals and 35 points don’t stack up against his frequent linemates in Buffalo. For Atlanta, Bryan Little produced similarly to MacArthur, getting 13 goals and 34 points in a bit of a down year after a fantastic 31 goal campaign in 08-09. Peverley, on the other hand, produced somewhat like Connolly and Pominville, getting 22 goals and 55 points. MacArthur was on the lower end of the spectrum amongst his linemates when it came to points, so it now becomes time to see some advanced metrics and how MacArthur measures up.

+/-ON/60 and +/-OFF/60 measure the +/- stats of players when they are on the ice per 60 minutes and when they’re off ice per 60 minutes, respectively. MacArthur’s +/-ON/60 is a poor -0.74, meaning that for every 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play that MacArthur participates in, his team is scored on almost a goal more than they score. This rating is only better than Peverley (-0.75) among his frequent linemates, with Little (-0.12), Connolly (0.66) and Pominville (0.69) all much better. His +/-OFF/60 is much the same at 0.30, meaning his team scores 0.3 goals more than they are scored on for every 60 minutes MacArthur is not on the ice. This time all four of Peverley (0.15), Pominville (-0.04), Connolly (-0.05) and Little (-0.16) were better.

Corsi ratings are stats that are used in conjunction with advanced +/- to present the full picture of a player’s puck possession ability. In simple terms, Corsi tracks the amount of shots directed at the opposition net while subtracting shots directed at the player’s own net. Clarke MacArthur’s on ice Corsi rating comes out to a horrid -2.66, which looks worse when compared to Connolly (-2.17), Little (1.66), Pominville (3.91) and Peverley (4.34). The last three mentioned were able to generate more offensive possession than they gave up, which is of course incredibly important when teams want to win games. His off ice Corsi rating is -1.54, which is indicative of the inconsistent offense in Buffalo and the downright bad offense in Atlanta after Kovalchuk left. His off ice Corsi is actually above Connolly (0.53) and Pominville (-1.16), but is worse than Little (-3.28) and Peverley (-4.90).

One thing that Corsi ratings don’t take into account is the quality of shots directed at the net. Shots from the outside, missed shots and blocked shots are counted against you. Corsi is a possession stat, with these three scenarios still indicating that the other team has control of the puck. Clarke MacArthur finished the season with 29 blocked shots, which was nearly par with Connolly (34) and Pominville (30) and way ahead of Peverley (19) and Little (18). So there should be some kind of effort on defense expected from MacArthur.

With the +/-, Corsi and blocked shots stuff out of the way, I’d like to talk a bit about Zone Starts before we finish off. Zone Starts track the zone (Offensive, Neutral, Defensive) that a player begins their shift in. This is commonly tracked in Offensive Zone Start Percentage (OPCT). If a player starts the majority of their shifts in the offensive end but has poor +/- stats, it is indicative of bad defensive play. MacArthur’s OPCT is 49.5%, 9th highest among players that played 25 games or more on Atlanta’s roster and 5th lowest on Buffalo’s roster. He was definitely not being sheltered and his stats reflect that fact.

So what does it all add up to? He had a bad season. It was his second full season in the NHL and like so many before him, he suffered that sophomore slump. In 08-09, his blocked shots were the same (29), but all of his other stats, including his +/-ON/60 (-0.22), +/-OFF/60 (-0.30), on ice Corsi (0.74) and off ice Corsi (-3.35) were much better. Burke and his staff are betting that MacArthur is following the path of a lot of NHL players, with a strong rookie season, poor sophomore season and showing an elevated level of play in the third year. He’ll see an increase in ice time from the 14:39 he averaged per game in 09-10, so the ball is in his court now. He has his one year contract, now he has to prove that there’s more to Clarke MacArthur than meets the eye.