Analysis: How Did Cam York Perform as a Rookie?
Cam York made headlines for the wrong reason over the summer, when he was exiled to the AHL for an apparent failure to sufficiently “attack the game.”
He had played 33 games in that last season. His 10 points in those 33 games were a rather modest total, and actually understated how well I remembered him doing by the eye-test. Well, once I started tracking Flyers’ players and their every puck touch during a game, I knew I’d eventually have to get to York.
Did his results match up with my initial eye-test? Was it a freak accident that he was the only Flyer to finish with an over 50% Corsi share, and did he have some hand in making his pairing with Ivan Provorov their best pairing in the last season?
I tracked 3 of York’s game as a rookie. All of which, he registered over 20 minutes. Once, he got as high as 25 minutes. This sample sees him playing in all situations, from the first power-play unit to the first penalty-kill unit. As well as 5-on-5 play against the opposition’s top players.
The 3 games I tracked were: April 5th against Columbus, March 23rd against St. Louis, and April 3rd against the Rangers.
I’m sharing them in the order I tracked them, because unfortunately, the first game I did was under my previous system. If you want a refresher of the new system, here’s the piece in which it made its debut.
If you want a refresher on the old and more simple system, here is where that made its debut.
The Results on April 5th against Columbus:
- 64 Touches
- 47 Completed Passes
- 2 Turnovers
- 9 Shot Attempts
York’s 64 touches in that game against Columbus would blow away the season total by any defenseman I’ve tracked to date so far. And despite the egregiously large sample size, he only had 2 turnovers throughout the entire game.
Even when defenseman have good games by my tracking, they usually register at least 2 turnovers.
York flashed everything in this game from his skating to his passing abilities to an underrated shot which generated a ton of dangerous scoring chances.
It was the single most impressive game I’ve tracked from any Flyers defenseman, including Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo.
And unfortunately for him, it resulted in 0 points because Elvis Merzlikins decided to become prime Dominik Hasek in that game.
The Results on March 23rd against St. Louis:
- 32 Defensive Zone Touches
- 2 Neutral Zone Touches
- 14 Offensive Zone Touches
- 0 Defensive Zone Turnovers
- 0 Neutral Zone Turnovers
- 0 Offensive Zone Turnovers
- 25 Defensive Zone Completed Passes
- 13 Offensive Zone Completed Passes
- 16 Exits Created
- 11 Entries Created
- 4 Scoring Chances Created
- 5 Shots Created
If you didn’t think his game against Columbus was the peak of these three performances, you could easily argue that it was this game against the Blues.
York was a force in transition. His ability to carry the puck out of his end, or carry the puck into the other end was on full display. At one point, he even evaded the checks of 4 Blues players to create both an exit and an entry.
And despite an extremely healthy sample size of 46 total touches, York didn’t register a single turnover through the entire game. I don’t think I’ve tracked a defenseman yet to record fewer than 2 in a game, until this one.
There were times when I thought he was staying a bit too within himself. I could see the opportunity there for him to create with his legs, and he would pass up on it. So, John Tortorella’s original message wasn’t actually off base at all.
But that is basic development that can happen at the NHL. Becoming more confident in creating for himself and his teammates as he plays more games in the NHL is a given. it isn’t that something that requires a stay in the minors.
Frankly, all you did was interfere in that natural growth in confidence by telling him he isn’t an NHL-ready player. Wrongly, I might add.
His 9 points in 11 AHL games, including 6 in his last 6, should be evidence enough of all of this.
I wonder what happened for the first 5 when he only had 3 points? Well, maybe it takes time to build back the confidence you inadvertently bruised.
The fact that he’s in the AHL right now is a complete joke, especially when we frankly only have 2 defenseman at the NHL level who can do the things he does. To the degree he does them.
But maybe I found a bad game in the bunch that proves the original point of sending him to the AHL?
Let’s visit York’s worst game in the sample.
The Results On April 3rd Against the Rangers.
- 25 Defensive Zone Touches
- 3 Neutral Zone Touches
- 6 Offensive Zone Touches
- 1 Defensive Zone Turnover
- 2 Neutral Zone Turnovers
- 0 Offensive Zone Turnovers
- 20 Completed Defensive Zone Passes
- 6 Completed Offensive Zone Passes
- 9 Exits Created
- 4 Entries Created
- 2 Scoring Chances Created
- 3 Shots Created
York was definitely at his most quiet in this game. His deferential habits shone through the most here, and you can see that in his deflated transition numbers. Fewer exits and entries created.
He also set his personal record with 3 turnovers in 34 total touches. On its own, that isn’t a remarkably high number. Compared to most games I’ve tracked by Flyers’ defenseman, this could be stacked up to any of them barring his own 0 turnover masterpiece.
However, it is also important to note that 2 of his turnovers came at the cost of scoring chances off the rush. Those 2 neutral zone turnovers were, frankly, more dangerous than they sound. So let’s not shine his wheels where it isn’t due.
If ever York’s occasional lack of willingness to truly create burned him, it was in this game.
Personally, I’d consider this a simple bad game at the NHL level. Not even growing pains, I think this kind of off-night is simply unavoidable for any player.
While tracking the York game against the Rangers, I did the same for Ronnie Attard. Here are the results for that, and let me say…. it was an adventure. Both good and bad.
Ronnie Attard’s Results:
- 18 Defensive Zone Touches
- 1 Neutral Zone Touch
- 2 Offensive Zone Touches
- 4 Defensive Zone Turnovers
- 2 Offensive Zone Turnovers
- 11 Defensive Zone Completed Passes
- 1 Offensive Zone Completed Pass
- 7 Exits Created
- 5 Entries Created
- 1 Scoring Chance Created
- 3 Shots Created.
Attard’s talent and dynamism is apparent, and belies his size. He has an explosive shot and a surprising amount of mobility given his large frame. He also has a complete willingness to create, an absolute fearlessness.
Of course, at this point, his fearlessness burns him more than it creates excellent plays. For him, learning when to take risks at the AHL level is the ideal path.
But do not mistake this extra time needed for a lack of upside.
His 7 exits and 5 entries created on 21 total touches is proof that he can make things happen at the NHL level.
It’s just about reducing the overhead.
Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro