The curious case of Rob Klinkhammer.
With 36 days remaining until the Phoenix Coyotes preseason opener, we look at number 36 and see if he can repeat the successes of last season.
"The Colonel" appears to be a late bloomer. He got progressively better in his WHL career, progressively better in his AHL career and now, progressively better in the NHL. In each he slowly transformed his output from underwhelming to good as the years went by.
When the Coyotes signed Klinkhammer on July 3, 2012, few expected him to make any meaningful NHL impact. He had played just 16 NHL games, recording two points, both assists. But, after three sub par years in the AHL, Klinkhammer put up back-to-back strong AHL seasons scoring 46 points in 76 games in 2010-2011 and 41 points in 53 games in 11-12.
The 26-year-old (who turns 27 on Monday) immediately went to Portland to play with the Coyotes' AHL affiliate Pirates. He proceeded to score 44 points in 53 games, which earned him a call-up.
After having only two career points on his resume, Klinkhammer scored five goals and six assists over the final 22 games of the season. This performance earned himself a two-year, $625,000 per contract in May.
The question remains: can he repeat his performance from last season? Let's see what the advanced metrics tell us. Understanding that while 22 games is a small sample size, Klinkhammer's metrics were impressive (all metrics represent 5-on-5 play).
His Corsi Rel QoC*, which measures quality of competition, was the seventh highest in the NHL (minimum 20 games played) at 1.739, and third on the Coyotes (only behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zbynek Michalek). Therefore, easy competition was not inflating his numbers as he faced the toughest competition of any Coyotes forward.
He was not aided by favorable zone starts either, as he started only 33.3 percent of the time in the offensive zone; second worst of any Yotes player, only behind Boyd Gordon.
The last stat we will look at is PDO**, which will help determine how much luck was involved in Klinkhammer's 2013 season. Klink was tied for the 25th highest PDO in the NHL (minimum 20 games played), and had the highest on the Coyotes at 104.8. A deeper look shows that his offensive numbers may not decline as his on-ice shooting percentage was 7.8 percent, middle of the pack for the Desert Dogs. His defensive numbers seem primed to fall as his on-ice save percentage was a whopping 97 percent, fifth highest in the NHL.
Translation: Klinkhammer could very well repeat his offensive success of last season; however a few more pucks will enter the net for the other team this season than did last season.
*Puck Prospectus defines Corsi Rel QoC as: "A measure of competition quality using Relative Corsi as its basis."
*Relative Corsi is defined by Puck Prospectus as: "A player's Corsi value in comparison to his teammates. Relative Corsi is expressed as the player's Corsi minus the team Corsi rate. A positive value indicates a player who is better than the team average and a negative number is a player who is worse than the team average."
**Puck Prospectus defines PDO as: "PDO is the sum of a player's on-ice save percentage and on-ice shooting percentage. PDO is an excellent way to measure 'puck luck' or good fortune as it regresses heavily to the mean of 100 (sometimes shown as 1000). For example, a player with a PDO of 103.4 is likely to see his luck drop next year, affecting his plus-minus or point totals. A player with a PDO of 97.1 will likely have a 'bounceback' year purely by getting a few more bounces go his way."