Washington Capitals Player Report Card: Eric Fehr
June 10, 2011 Leave a comment
Stats: 52 Games Played, 10 Goals, 10 Assists, 20 Points, Even, 16 PIM
Contract Info: Cap hit of $2.2 mil and signed for 2011-12 season
Scoring Chance Ranking: 11/29
Balanced Corsi Ranking: 11/29
I had high hopes for Eric Fehr going into this season. He was coming off a career year where he scored 21 goals and was one of the team’s most efficient goal scorers. I was also a big supporter of having him re-signed last off-season and he was for 2 years with a cap hit of $2.2 mil. Fehr’s 2009-10 season got me excited about his future and I thought his ability to take advantage of the ice-time he was given could make him a potential top-six forward for the Caps. Unfortunately, he did not live up to those expectations this season as his point total dipped and he found himself on the IR or in the press box for a lot of games this season.
It should be noted that while Fehr was an efficient goal scorer last season, he did it against middling competition like his player card indicates. When you are a third liner, you will likely get matched up against the opponent’s third third pairing defenseman or bottom-six forwards. That was the case with Fehr and the same thing happened this year as he couldn’t seem to make his way into the Caps top-six. What made things worse is that he couldn’t take advantage of being matched up against weaker competition so well like he did last year. To add to that, he was also given powerplay time this year and had only three powerplay goals. Also disappointing is that Fehr was given 55% of his starts in the offensive zone, the second most on the team, and he was only able to finish 49% of them there, showing that he wasn’t able to control the pace of play as well as he did last year.
A few positive things came from Fehr this season, he has always been a good forechecker and his solid corsi numbers back that up. He finished in the top half on the team in terms of generating scoring chances and his corsi relative to his quality of competition actually improved from last year. He had stretches of good play (mainly in late December-early January before he got hurt) but he couldn’t seem to put together a solid season at all. This could have been due to injuries, limited playing time or him simply not being as good of a goal scorer as he was last season. Clearly something must have been up with him because he was scratched on quite a few games towards the end of the year including games 4 & 5 against New York and 1 & 2 against Tampa Bay.
When I watch Eric Fehr, I’m not exactly sure what I see in him. Sometimes I think his ability to create chances and forecheck could make him a good “energy line” winger. Other times it looks like he has a natural scoring ability and could be a good addition to this team’s top six. I’m still torn on how I feel. His draft selection and constant reminders from pundits about his success with the Brandon Wheat Kings, show that he has goal scoring talent but has that translated into the NHL? Here’s a look at where his goals came this year and the previous season.
The red dots are all of Fehr’s goals during the regular season and playoffs. Notice how most of them are right in front of the net or in that general area? That’s how he creates his chances. Sure, sometimes he will have a nice wrister from inside the face-off circle like his two goals against Philly this year, but most of the time, his goals result from hard work and creating traffic in front of the net. His goals from last season tell a similar story.
Yep, I would say over 80% of his goals from last year were from that golden scoring chance area right in the slot or right in front of the net. Fehr wasn’t doing much of that this season (or at least not as much as he did in 2008-09) and that could have been a result of his goal drop-off.
Even more bad news struck him right after the season ended as it was announced that Fehr would have shoulder surgery and is likely to miss the beginning of training camp. That’s not good for a player who was already battling for playing time so this could mean that Fehr might have even less chances to prove that he can be a top-six winger on this team and he could end up like Tomas Fleischmann did this season and be traded away. He is in a little better position than Flash was, though. Sturm isn’t likely to return so he should find a place in the lineup once he’s healthy but is he even going to be ready for the season opener? Hopefully he is for his sake. I’m going to have to give Fehr a C- on the season. The goals against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were nice but I expected him to capitalize on a lot more of the chances he was supposedly creating this season.