Tomas Kaberle 2011-12 Projection

I’ve already analyzed Tomas Kaberle a bit this off-season and determined that he should provide a slight upgrade on the powerplay compared to what Joe Corvo brought (keyword there is “slight”) but may need to be protected if he is going to be effective in this system. Kaberle is 33 and most defensemen tend to see their play decline after the age of 30, which has sort of been the case with Kaberle in terms of counting numbers even though it isn’t anything too drastic yet. Will Kaberle continue to decline or will he be the powerplay quarterback that Carolina desperately needs this year?

Season Age GP G A Pts EV PP SH S S% TOI
1998-99 20 57 4 18 22 4 0 0 71 5.6% 1066
1999-00 21 82 7 33 40 5 2 0 82 8.5% 1879
2000-01 22 82 6 39 45 6 0 0 96 6.3% 1860
2001-02 23 69 10 29 39 5 5 0 85 11.8% 1725
2002-03 24 82 11 36 47 6 4 1 119 9.2% 2037
2003-04 25 71 3 29 32 3 0 0 88 3.4% 1647
2005-06 26 82 9 58 67 3 6 0 163 5.5% 2310
2006-07 27 74 11 47 58 9 2 0 128 8.6% 1915
2007-08 28 82 8 45 53 2 6 0 155 5.2% 2039
2008-09 29 57 4 27 31 1 3 0 93 4.3% 1337
2009-10 30 82 7 42 49 4 3 0 158 4.4% 1833
2010-11 31 82 4 43 47 4 0 0 130 3.1% 1813

Last year wasn’t too bad for Kaberle. He had a respectable season from an offensive defenseman’s standpoint and finally got his Cup after being traded to Boston. He saw his shooting percentage dip to a career low, which could explain the somewhat low goal total but most players’ shooting percentages tend to regress when they reach their 30′s. Still, I think most Carolina fans would be satisfied if he ends up with a point total like that at the end of the year. His point total is going to be heavily dependant on what kind of ice-time he receives in Carolina. I’m sure the general consensus is that he will play on the top pairing with Joni Pitkanen but after seeing how Boston utilized him in the playoffs, things could be different.

Tomas Kaberle Underlying Numbers (courtesy of Behind The Net):

Season Corsi Rel QoC On-ice Sh% Ozone%
2007-08 .442 5.2% 52.4%
2008-09 -.111 4.3% 57.5%
2009-10 -.223 4.4% 58.3%
2010-11 .234 3.07% 51.8%

In Toronto, Kaberle regularly played on the top pairing but during his last couple full seasons there, he was given much weaker competition. Kaberle began to take on tougher competition and zone starts during his final season there but the data could be skewed from his time with the Bruins. However, the playoffs were a much different story. Kaberle was sheltered HEAVILY in the playoffs and guys like Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference were given tougher minutes. He was also used on the third pairing and as a “powerplay specialist” during many games, too. I know the playoffs are a small sample size and everything but you have to wonder if Kaberle is still a “big minute” defenseman after seeing the way he was used on a team who did not have a lot of defensive depth like the Bruins. Carolina is paying over $4 mil a year for him, so I have to think that he will at least start off in the top pairing or top-four if anything. What we mostly care about with Kaberle is how effective he will be on the powerplay. The answer? He will be good but not worth $4.5 mil.

Tomas Kaberle Powerplay Stats 2007-2011

Season PPG PPA PPP SF/60 GFON Powerplay Point%
2007-08 6 24 30 45.6 45 56.6%
2008-09 3 16 19 48.6 30 61.3%
2009-10 3 22 25 42.1 29 51%
2010-11 0 25 25 48.3 31 58.1%

Kaberle is going to at least accumulate points with the man advantage if history repeats itself. When over 50% of someone’s career points come on the powerplay, you know that he’s going to get his chances. He will never be as his 2005-06 year, but I don’t think people will be complaining if we can get at least 20+ PP points out of him. However, Edmonton’s failed experiment with Kurtis Foster last year showed us that one player can not completely turn around a struggling powerplay, but Kaberle is obviously better than Foster so I’m hoping that won’t be the case here. Then again, Kaberle was the main player on a lot of awful Leafs powerplay units and Boston’s PP was terrible in the playoffs. At least his SF/60 went back to above average. 

Comparable Players:

The criteria here were defenseman who have played in at least 900 games, entered the league at 20 years old and have put up solid offensive number.s. As you could probably guess, there weren’t too many close matches.

Player Season Age GP G A Pts
Randy Carlyle 1990-91 34 52 9 19 28
Zdeno Chara 2009-10 32 80 7 37 44
Randy Carlyle 1988-89 32 78 6 38 44
Bryan McCabe 2008-09 33 69 15 24 39
Rob Blake 2002-03 33 79 17 28 45
Gary Sutter 1997-98 33 73 14 28 42
Teppo Numminen 2001-02 33 82 7 42 49
Ron Greschener 1986-87 32 61 6 34 40
Rob Blake 2001-02 32 75 16 40 56
Fredrik Olausson 1998-99 32 74 16 40 56

 

Player GP G A Pts
Best (Olausson) 74 16 40 56
Worst (Carlyle) 52 9 19 28
Average 68 9 27 35
82 Games Avg. 82 10 32 42

Doing a comparable for a player like Kaberle is really tough because there aren’t that many players in NHL history who are very similar to him. I don’t disagree with the projected point total if he plays 82 games even though I doubt he scores 10 goals. A season like Randy Carlyle’s in 1988-89 will only occur if Kaberle gets seriously injured.

Projection:

I see Kaberle’s shooting percentage go up, but only by a little bit because he’s definitely aging. Ia lso see him getting significant powerplay time and a good chunk of his points will come from there. He’s always been known to pile up assists, but I think it will drop off from it’s usual rate (.495 A/G) this season. Kaberle has produced 40+ points on bad Leafs teams when he was healthy and I see no reason why that can’t continue in Carolina. Then there’s the other side of his game which I can’t project into boxcar numbers…which would be his questionable play in the defensive zone. Let’s just say that I would prefer him to be one of the sheltered defensemen but I don’t think that will happen if he plays on one of the top pairings. Oh well.

GP G A Pts EV PP SH S S%
80 5 38 43 3 2 0 125 3.9%
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