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2014-15 Rink Wrap: Eric Fehr

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From Alzner to Wilson, we're taking a look at and grading the 2014-15 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2015-16. Next up, Eric Fehr.

Clyde Caplan

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version, and a glossary of terms used in this post can be found here; data via NHL.comwar-on-ice.comGeneral Fanager and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com):

Fehr Card

Fehr linemates

Fehr usage

Fehr's Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage (2007-15):

Fehr Rolling CF%

Fehr's HERO Chart (via Own The Puck):

Fehr HERO

Fehr's Past Seven Seasons (via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com; click to enlarge):

Fehr HA


Key Stat: 79. The number of games Fehr played this season (regular season and playoffs),  the highest single season amount in his career.

Interesting Stat: With a +8 rating, Eric Fehr continued his streak of nine seasons with the Caps without lodging a negative plus/minus rating.

The Good: Over the past few decades, numerous NHL forwards have switched positions and/or roles in order to extend their careers. Joe Juneau, a natural pivot, played his best years as Adam Oates' winger. Bengt Gustafsson was interchangeable, and just as effective, as a center or wing. Can't Miss Kid and former Capital 50-goal scorer Bobby Carpenter went from being a goal-scoring dynamo to a checking line center late in his career. Dale Hunter went through a similar evolution. Seeing former top-line centers migrate to winger or checking-line center roles is not unusual. What is uncommon is seeing a skater who has played winger his whole career - including in juniors - successfully convert to center after several seasons in the NHL. It's a rare and impressive feat that few skaters successfully make.

Enter Eric Fehr. The wing-to-center transformation he began in 2013 is now complete. In 2014-15, he proved that he is a bonafide third-line center, reinforced by the 19 goals, 14 assists and 33 points he put together this past season, besting last year's output by two points. Even with tougher assignments and limited offensive zone starts, he  improved his possession numbers from last year, evidenced by his increase in SF% from 48.0% in 2013-14 to 50.2% this year. He finished +8 in two key categories: plus-minus and net penalties drawn. His face-off win percentage improved from 46% to 52%, another impressive feat for a converted winger who had not taken many draws in his career before 2013. Defensively, he logged more time on the PK this year (1:23) than last year (1:00) and his shot suppression numbers on the PK ranked best on the team at 47.8 across 60 minutes, down from last year's less sightly 66.6 across 60.  Again, quite an evolution, further enhanced by the fact that he completed his two-year metamorphosis with an entirely new set of coaches.

And, if that's not enough, few need to be reminded that he is both a a Winter Classic force of nature as well as an impressive Puck Thief.

The Bad: Fehr had a strong start to the season and a not-as-strong finish, as he posted 16 goals, 24 points and a plus-13 rating in his first 47 games of the season and just three goals, nine points and a minus-5 rating in the 28 games that followed before a pointless-in-four-games playoffs (speaking of which, Fehr now has just two goals and no assists in his 30 career playoff games that weren't against Montreal in 2010). And it wasn't just the box cars that tailed off - using that same (somewhat arbitrary) February 4 separator, he posted a 51.3 Corsi-For percentage prior and a 49.0 percentage (with a markedly worse Relative CF%) after.

In reality, given the totality of the circumstances, that might be more "The Uneven" than "The Bad," and this next point might be more "The Unlucky" - Fehr's real issue was that the injury bug continued to plague him at inopportune times. No stranger to injury throughout his career, Fehr appeared to make it through the season unscathed until he missed the last three games of the season (which caused him to miss a chance at his second 20 goal season.) What hurt even more, no pun intended, was Fehr injuring his shoulder on a violent Kyle Okposo hit in Game 3 of the Islanders series, and subsequently missing the next ten playoff games. Much was made of Ranger forward Mats Zuccarello's absence in Round 2, but losing Fehr was also a big (albeit less publicized) blow to the Caps chances as it forced fourth liner Jay Beagle to play up on the third line, while simultaneously limiting the effectiveness of the fourth line. Fehr's presence on the third line could have (would have?) changed that dynamic and given the Caps a bit more of an offensive boost than Beagle did.

And while we're nitpicking, we have to acknowledge that a certain segment of the Capitals fan base has never really forgiven Fehr for something he couldn't control: being picked ahead of Ryan Getzlaf in the 2003 draft, the same Getzlaf who is captaining his Anaheim team on a deep playoff run. Some memes never die!

The GFY:

The Vote: Rate Fehr below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Discussion: Considering Fehr's injury history, what is the maximum term and payment the Caps should consider offering him as a free agent? For what role is he best-suited? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?

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