Tomas Jurco. That name probably meant nothing to you before the Blackhawks acquired him from the Red Wings today for the 3rd round pick. Who is he? What’s he good at? What type of role can he play? I will try to find some answers.
- 2011, 2nd round pick, 35th overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
- Shoots left
- $900,000 expiring contract
- Impending restricted free agent
- Slovakia native
To analyze Jurco’s numbers, I will look at various hockey visuals.
First is his hero chart created by @MimicoHero
This chart examines the players past three seasons and illustrates that players talent level in various stats.
We see a player who doesn’t score much. He’s in the 8th percentile in the NHL in terms of goal scoring and in the 21st percentile in point scoring. That’s well below average. It DOES NOT look like Chicago acquired a scoring winger here.
He has played fourth line minutes for Detroit and a low event hockey style. Low event means that when he is on the ice, no teams are shooting. His team isn’t getting many shots, but he also isn’t allowing the opponents to shoot either. Coaches find this ideal for fourth liners in today’s game. Basically, go on the ice and make sure literally nothing happens. Kill 5v5 minutes.
He doesn’t generate much offense, but his shot suppression numbers (shot attempts against) are in the 94th percentile. This means he has been one of the better forwards in the league in terms of limiting the amount of shots the opponent takes. Overall, he has been an above average puck possession winger.
We know about his point production and puck possession, but I want to dive deeper. To do that, we will analyze data from Ryan Stimson’s passing project. This data is visualized by @Ziggy_14
Sidenote. All the visuals below are interactive on the Tableau website. You can therefore look up the Blackhawks if you click on the link below that viz.
The first graph looks at events that occur in the danger zone, near the front of the net. The vertical axis is high danger shots taken. The horizontal axis is passes that setup high danger shots for others. Tomas Jurco is in the top left corner. He is on the extreme low end in terms of set up passes that lead to high danger shots. On the other hand, he takes many shots in the high danger zones. This suggests he isn’t much of a playmaker, but he can get to the net.
The below chart will only look at playmaking. The vertical axis is passes that lead to scoring chances. The horizontal axis is passes that directly led to shot attempts. We find Tomas Jurco nestled in the low left hand corner. This is bad. This means he is on the low end in both categories. He does’t set up many scoring chances or shots at all.
Below, I added Jurco’s shot breakdown from the 2015-16 season.
Draft Pick Value
Chicago traded away a third round pick. Let’s examine the value of that asset.
Scott Cullen of TSN looked at draft pick values in the summer of 2015. Let’s say the Blackhawks 3rd round pick falls around 81-90 overall, here is what one could expect.
- Average Rating: Minor Leaguer, under 50 NHL games
- Best: Sergei Zubov, Milan Hejduk, Alexei Zhitnik
- Top Six Forward, Top Four D or better: 6.2%
- NHL Regular, 350+ NHL games or worse: 89.5%
- At least 100 NHL games (or extremely likely): 23.8%
It’s hard to find quality players later in the draft. This is why it is important to stock pile draft picks. The more chances (draft picks) a team has, the more likely they are to select a good player or two in the later rounds.
The Blackhawks would only have a 23.8% chance of drafting a player that would play at least 100 NHL games. With this trade, Chicago acquired a player who has already been in 158 career NHL games. So while they most likely threw away a 6% chance of drafting an impact player with this pick, they instead received a NHL player, which doesn’t happen as often as one would think in the third round.
This is a bottom-6 forward that probably won’t improve the Blackhawks that much. However, I can confidently say that he is an upgrade over Tootoo and Desjardins.
This is an interesting move as Jurco is only 24-years-old. He could be with the Blackhawks for a few more seasons, as he will be a restricted free agent. This means Chicago owns his rights.
Many of the people I followed mentioned today that they always thought Jurco was going to be something special. They mention how much skill and great hands he has, but for some odd reason, he didn’t develop well in Detroit. I kind of look at this somewhat similar to the Richard Panik trade in that the Blackhawks believe they can get more out of this kid. Everyone who watches him believes he should be a better player.
Now don’t get too excited thinking this guy can blossom into a star. He’s 24 and a low end bottom-6 forward at the moment. If the Blackhawks can somehow develop him better than the Red Wings organization, he might turn into a high end bottom-sixer.
I think the Blackhawks are fine on defense, but could use a middle-6 to second line quality forward.
- Schmaltz – Toews – Panik
- Panarin – Anisimov – Kane
- Hartman – Guy – Hossa
- Rasmussen – Kruger – Jurco
Obviously, “Guy” is a player they have yet to trade for. There aren’t many centers on the trade block right now. Martin Hanzal and Brian Boyle are a couple that are out there. Chicago acquiring Tyler Johnson from Tampa Bay is the perfect dream. Either way, I see the bottom-6 scoring line center as a problem area for the Blackhawks come playoff time.