Why Did Chicago Trade For Tomas Jurco?

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.

General Info

  • 2011, 2nd round pick, 35th overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
  • Age-24
  • Shoots left
  • Winger
  • $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.

Story 1.png
Viz Source: Own The Puck

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.

Source: Ziggy’s Tableau

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.

Source: Ziggy’s Tableau

Below, I added Jurco’s shot breakdown from the 2015-16 season.

Source: Ziggy’s Tableau

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.

More Trades?

I think the Blackhawks are fine on defense, but could use a middle-6 to second line quality forward.

  1. Schmaltz – Toews – Panik
  2. Panarin – Anisimov – Kane
  3. Hartman – Guy – Hossa
  4. 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.


  1. Your “guy” that you want would be replacing my nephew, Tanner Kero, who has played very well for the Hawks. Quality likes him because he’s a very smart and responsible player. And he’s developing nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Few follow ups. Do you really see the hawks going after a guy like Boyle? I like the idea, but I feel his price will be just as high as Hanzal’s if not higher. Secondly why do you think they acquired a winger like Jurco? I agree with you I think center depth is the blackhawks problem specifically face-offs. Do you believe acquiring a guy like Cody Eakin or John mitchel, both guys are good in the dot(52%<), would be reasonable? Neither are point producers but Junco isn't either. Anyway just wanted to hear your thoughts. P.S. Who would we have to give up to make a Tjohnson trade even remotely feasible?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1) I don’t know if they would go after a guy like Boyle. I was mostly mentioning how small the crop of available centers are by naming the few that are on the trade block.

      2) I think he can fill in on a 4th line defensive role. He seems like the type of guy that needs a change of scenery and has the potential to be a 30-point a season, 3rd line guy. I think they go at him because they realized Tootoo and Desjardins shouldn’t play in the playoffs. This guy is pretty good at playing low event hockey and prevent the opponent from taking shots.

      I guess he’s better than Desjardins/Tootoo and maybe more reliable than Hinostroza who has been bleeding shots and playing a poor puck possession game recently. This team lacked adequate forward depth, and they beefed that up with this move.

      3) Eakin and Mitchell are 4th liners that won’t improve the team much. It would be somewhat like trading for Andrew Desjardins just so Desjardins can win a 53 faceoffs to the opponents 47 for every 100 faceoffs.

      Desjardins is a career 53.3% faceoff winner. Players don’t have enough advantage on faceoffs skill to merit acquiring a subpar player. If a guy can win 75-90% of faceoffs, then they would matter more. And the faceoff itaelf is important, but the impact of a better faceoff player doesn’t make up for the negatives that Eakin and Mitchell have as players.

      Jurco at least suppresses or limits opponents shots well. Eakin and Mitchell have poor shot generation and poor shot suppression numbers. When they are on the ice, they are constantly int hr defensive zone with the opponent on the attack.

      4) Tyler Johnson trade. Too much for one to fathom. 1st, 3rd, Gustav Forsling, and a B level prospect.

      However, Johnson is an impending RFA. In the summer, CHI can trade his right for a 1st and some prospects just like they did with RFA Brandon Saad to Columbus. So they will gain back some of what they lose, while also making them a bonafide cup contender in my book.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the input. Wanted to now the real worth of a player who can win face-offs but who can’t really produce. Also didn’t know how bad Eakin and Mitchel really were. Great feed back thanks


Comments are closed.