Last summer, the Oilers signed Kurtis Foster to a two-year contract in an attempt to spark what was an awful powerplay. The year before, Foster had a career high 26 points on the powerplay as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, which made up half of his 42 total points. Oilers fans were disappointed with his production this season as he only had 14 points with the man advantage and Edmonton’s powerplay finished in the bottom-five with a success rate of 14.4% and dead last in terms of shots. Foster clearly did not live up to his reputation as a “power-play” specialist but when you look at his career stats, Foster has never been that deadly on the powerplay and he had such a good season in Tampa Bay because his most common PP linemates were Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. Compare that to who he played with in Edmonton and their powerplay woes, and it’s easy to see why he had such a drop-off in powerplay production. He was not the one driving the play in Tampa and Edmonton found that out the hard way.
Why is this relevant? Because the Hurricanes made a similar move by signing Tomas Kaberle to help give their powerplay (which was ranked 24th in terms of success and 26th in term of shots last year) some life. Kaberle has always had a reputation of being an “elite” offensive defenseman but that is mostly because he had a great season in 2005-06 and has been able to put up points from the blue-line for his entire career. The thing is that Kaberle has never been someone who can single-handedly rejuvenate a powerplay on his own and the Leafs powerplay numbers in recent years along with the Bruins miserable PP performance during most of the playoffs show that. Despite that, I don’t think he will have a downturn like Foster did last season because Kaberle has at least been able to put up around 20 points on the powerplay even if the team’s powerplay numbers aren’t that good.
Carolina’s powerplay has been pretty bad for the past two seasons and Toronto’s was actually worse if we’re going by shots for and Boston’s wasn’t exactly anything to write home about either so that’s another reason why I don’t think we have a situation similar to Foster’s on our hands but those expecting Kaberle to single-handily fix our PP have another thing coming, especially since Joe Corvo and Erik Cole are both gone. However, something else to wonder is if Kaberle’s production with the man advantage is superior to Corvo’s. The answer is yes but not by a lot.
PPG PPA PPP Def. Rank PPTOI/60 PPSF/60
Kaberle 0 25 25 9 3.86 48.3
Corvo 5 18 23 15 3.86 43.0
It is a given that Kaberle is going to put up points, which is all well and fine but how much of an improvement on the powerplay is he over someone like Joe Corvo? Most of the stats say he’s only a slight improvement at best. Of course, there are some other things to consider here. Maybe having a guy like Staal up front will help out a little bit? Maybe Joni Pitkanen will have a bounce-back season? Who knows? The point here is that the chances of Kaberle completely rejuvenating the team’s powerplay are slim, and guys like Pitkanen, Jokinen, Ruutu and others will need to do their share as well if we don’t want our powerplay to end up in the bottom of the league again. Kaberle will likely put up 20-25 points (was going to be optimistic and say 30 but that seems like a stretch), but all that really does is give the team similar production to Corvo’s last year if not a little better. The keyword there is “little.”