Considering Conacher

Day 1 of training camp and reports have Cory Conacher on the right side of Turris and MacArthur. Is it foolish to read too much into this? Yes, of course. But, let's consider what Cory brings to the table (the kids table).

Conacher doesn't really appear (at least not yet) to be a great possession asset, but he also isn't a detriment. He's not going to drag anyone down, and among players that can drive play – he can keep up just fine. See his time alongside Zibanejad and Silfverberg through the last 12 games of the season, they were dominant together. Mika and Silf were already a good pairing, but Conacher was a fantastic compliment.

In the playoffs Conacher fell out of favour, careless turnovers and and somehow managing to take 31 minutes of penalties (when his job was drawing them) wasn't helping his case. He did score three goals vs. Montreal, one of the absolutely massive variety, but went pointless against Pittsburgh. The sense was that management was expecting him to play a more "Brendan Gallagher" all-out style, and his 9 shots in 8 games just wasn't cutting it. Among Sens forwards he finished 13th in average TOI per game.

But this was still a rookie last year, albeit an old one (he'll be 24 in December). So there should still be upside here, and looking at his history gives reason for optimism.

League GP G A PTS SH SH% PTS/gm SH/gm
NCAA 129 62 85 147 414 15.0 1.14 3.21
AHL 118 55 59 114 305 18.0 0.97 2.58
NHL 47 11 18 29 67 16.4 0.62 1.43

I think there's good evidence this player is an above average finisher. Conacher's lowest shooting percentage occurred in his sophomore season at Canisius when he shot 13.0%. He shot 14.6% in the AHL last season, and every other year on record he's been above 15.0%.

The ECAC isn't NHL level goaltending and neither is the AHL. I wouldn't expect he'd continue scoring on 16.4% of his shots over a full NHL season. But even if his "true talent" settles in the NHL at 12-13%, that's still second-line skill. Turris for example has only shot 9.0% for his career; having more efficient wingers flanking him seems like a smart idea to me.

And a drop in shooting percentage can be compensated for by an increase in shot rate. Conacher's shot rate increased every year of college, his senior season he averaged 3.97 SH/gm. The year he was awarded MVP honours in the AHL he averaged 2.84 SH/gm. I don't think it's crazy to imagine he could average 2.00 SH/gm this season.

2 x 82 x .125 = 20.5

I'd take that.

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