Zac Dalpe in the top-six

Yesterday it was announced that Zac Dalpe will be called up from Charlotte and that he could be playing on the second line in Alexei Ponikarovsky’s spot. This has gotten many fans excited because Dalpe is known as the type of player “who needs top-six minutes to be effective” and a big reason why his point total in the NHL is so underwhelming is because he’s usually plugged in on the fourth line for most of his call-ups. What prevents me from being advocate for giving Dalpe top-six minutes is that his possession numbers have been horrible at the NHL level and he hasn’t exactly been scoring either. Players like Drayson Bowman and Zach Boychuk were at least making the most of his ice time and creating scoring chances during his time here but I can’t say the same for Dalpe. My thought is that he should be in Charlotte to work on his all-around game and have the team call him up when he is ready.

The argument against that is that Dalpe hasn’t really been given a chance in Carolina because former head coach Paul Maurice regularly gave him only 4-9 minutes of ice-time. Over his 28 game NHL career, Dalpe has only played more than 10 minutes in eight games, so I consider that argument to be valid. Eight games is an incredibly small sample size, but to play Devil’s advocate, I went through those games and looked how Dalpe performed to see if he does play better with top-six minutes. The results were pretty disappointing.

CF CA % CF/15 CA/15
>10 mins. 21 29 0.42 3.245 4.482
<10 mins. 17 35 0.33 1.88 3.871

CF/15 = Carolina chances per 15 mins., CA/15 = Chances allowed per 15 mins.

This is Zac Dalpe’s scoring chance data over his short career in Carolina and it isn’t very promising. It is true that he plays better when given more ice-time but he is still underwater in scoring chances, which isn’t good. Although, that is covering only eight games worth of data so making conclusions based off this would be silly. One thing we can say from the 28 total games worth of data is that fourth line minutes haven’t done Dalpe much good in terms of development. Putting someone like him in a checking role is pretty much useless and he would likely be better off in Charlotte. It is also worth remembering that Dalpe was playing through an injury at the start of the year and that could have been one of the reasons why his ice-time was cut back earlier in the season. It seems that we won’t have to worry about that this time because he’s healthy and there aren’t that many better options in the top-six. Ponikarovsky is controlling possession but not scoring, Tlusty has been on a huge decline for the past two months, LaRose is injuried and so is Samson. There is definitely room for Dalpe now.

I know that Dalpe is at the age where most high-ceiling players break into the league but it’s not like this HAS to be the year for him or he’ll be a bust. There is still plenty of time for him and I am excited to see how he performs during this next call-up. Bowman and Samson have all gotten their chances under Muller, now I guess it’s time for Dalpe to get a “non-emergency call-up” audition.

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