With the 2019-20 season on pause, NoVa Caps looks back at the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, which consisted of only 48 games. One notable aspect of the 2012-13 season was that of several players performing better than they typically had performed previously in their careers, but were then unable to duplicate said performance, including several rookies. Admittedly, statistics are skewed in such a short season, as the sample size is too small for the expected statistical regression to the mean, otherwise known as the Law of Averages, to take place.
Jiri Tlusty, Carolina Hurricanes
During the 2012-13 season, Jiri Tlusty, who has been acquired by Carolina near the trade deadline of 2009-10, was placed on the top-line alongside the Hurricanes’ longtime best player and team captain, Eric Staal, and offseason acquisition, Alexander Semin. Tlusty responded to this new assignment by scoring a career-high 23 goals in just 48 games, beating his previous career-high of 17, which he scored during the 2011-12 season. Tlusty also contributed 15 assists for 38 points, which exceeded his previous career-high of 36 points, which also came in 2011-12. After the lockout-shortened season, the ‘Canes had reason to believe they had a formidable top line for years to come.
However, Tlusty could not duplicate this performance in 2013-14. In 68 games, he scored 16 goals, and added 14 assists for 30 points overall. In 2014-15, he started off the year with 13 goals, 10 assists and 23 points, before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets at the deadline, with whom he contributed one goal. He signed a contract with the New Jersey Devils for the 2015-16 season but was hampered by injuries. The 2015-16 season was his last in the NHL.
There were some indications that his 23-goal season in 2012-13 was unsustainable. He finished the season with a shooting percentage of 19.1, much better than his average shooting percentage that hovered around 12%. His PDO in 2012-13 was 104.4 which, indicated that his performance was too good to be true. His Corsi For Relative percentage was -3.8 and his Fenwick For Relative Percentage was -3.8, which indicated he was not a strong possession player. His possession statistics improved in 2013-15, but his PDO regressed to a more normal 100.3.
Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers drafted right wing Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, a pedigree that came with large expectations. Yakupov had a commendable first season with Edmonton in 2012-13, with 17 goals and 14 assists (31 points) in 48 games, decent boxcar statistics for a 19-year old rookie. However, his performance dipped in subsequent years. In 2013-14, Yakupov scored 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points in 63 games. He rebounded slightly in 2014-15 with 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points, but regressed again in 2015-16 with just eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points. The Oilers traded him to the St. Louis Blues, with whom he failed to find a regular spot in the lineup. His last year in the NHL came with the Colorado Avalanche in 2017-18. Since then, he’s played in the Kontinental Hockey League.
In 2012-13, Yakupov’s shooting percentage was an unsustainable 21%. As a general rule of thumb, shooting percentages of over 15% are not sustainable over the long haul. After that season, his shooting percentage was less than 10%, generally between around 8-9%. His relative Corsi and Fenwick percentages while with Edmonton were typically in the negative range, which meant the team did not have positive statistics while he was on the ice. He was also perceived to be poor defensively. Perhaps Yakupov was a prospect who was overvalued to begin with during a relatively weak draft year. His situation was not helped by the management turnover in Edmonton, who underwent numerous changes of both the General Manager and the Head Coach during his tenure with the team.
David Clarkson, New Jersey Devils
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Strictly speaking, David Clarkson was not a “one-year wonder” but a “two-year wonder”. If one is being technical, 2011-12 was his best season, however the 2012-13 campaigne appeared to be a continuation of the prior season, with his productivity dropping off greatly after that. Clarkson had spent his entire career with the New Jersey Devils, signing with the team as an undrafted free agent. During 2011-12, Clarkson scored a career-high 30 goals and 16 assists, helping the Devils make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. He did well during the shortened 2012-13 season as well, scoring 15 goals and recording nine assists in 48 games. Prior to 2011-12, his best goal total was 17 goals in 2008-09.
After the 2012-13 season, Clarkson signed a seven-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. His tenure with the Leafs did not start off well, earning a 10-game suspension due to leaving the bench to participate in a fight during the preseason. In the 2013-14 season, he scored just five goals and added six assists, a significantly worse performance than normal and his previous two seasons. He rebounded to 10 goals and five assists in 2014-15 but was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline. Healthy scratches and injuries derailed his tenure with Columbus. A degenerative back injury led to the end of his career in 2015-16 as he failed his physical before training camp for the following season.
Tomas Kopecky, Florida Panthers
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The Panthers acquired right wing Tomas Kopecky, prior to the 2011-12 season. That season, he scored 10 goals and had 22 assists for 32 points overall. 2012-13 would prove to be an even better season on the goal-scoring front, as recorded 15 goals and 10 assists in 47 games. The 15 goals tied his career-high set in 2010-11 with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, the 2012-13 season would be his last productive season. He scored only four goals for the Panthers in 2013-14 and just two goals in 2014-15. With his poor year in 2014-15 and on an expiring contract, it ended up being his last year in the NHL. After the conclusion of his NHL career, Kopecky played for teams in the Czech League and the Slovak League.
Cory Conacher, Tampa Bay Lightning
Cory Conacher was an inspirational story by the time he arrived onto the NHL scene in 2012. Born with bladder exstrophy (bladder outside his body), and having surgery to correct it left his future ability to walk in doubt, he was then diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes eight years later. In addition to these challenges early in life, Conacher was undersized for a hockey player, leaving him undrafted. Conacher was a star player at Canisius College and, after graduation, signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. He was the best player on the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals team who had set the AHL record for longest winning streak and who had won the Calder Cup in 2012. Prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, Conached was invited to training camp for Tampa Bay after the lockout and made the team. He got off to a hot start, scoring nine goals and recording 15 assists before being traded to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for goalie Ben Bishop. He ended the season with 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points overall, finishing with one of the best point totals for a rookie that season, second only to Jonathan Huberdeau. However, subsequent seasons were not as good, and was unable to earn another full-time NHL role, bouncing around several organizations before ending up back in the Lightning organization, primarily playing with the team’s current AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.
Adam Oates, Washington Capitals Head Coach
While the Washington Capitals had no “one-year wonder” players during the 2012-13 season, their Head Coach at the time, Adam Oates, could have been considered as such. Oates was hired as Head Coach before the season. When the NHL resumed action, the Capitals got off to an extremely poor start, climaxing with a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins to put them at 2-8-0. The Caps appeared to be headed towards the draft lottery. However, they turned it around and finished first in the Southeast Division, ending the season with a 27-18-3 record.
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Alex Ovechkin ended with 32 goals in the 48-game season, which was a higher rate of productivity than the 32 goals and 38 goals he had scored in 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, respectively. One of the goals of Oates was to restore Ovechkin’s productivity to his past level of scoring and that appeared to have succeeded. In addition to Ovechkin improving, right wing Joel Ward, a free agent signing before the 2011-12 season, improved during 2012-13, scoring eight goals during the partial, 48-game season, more than the soc he had scored in 2011-12, during which he had been relegated to the fourth-line. Eric Fehr, a former Capitals draft pick who had returned to the team for the 2012-13 season,scored nine goals and transitioned to a new position as a center. As a result of the improvements, Oates appeared to be a good hire as Head Coach after his first season. However, his weaknesses as a Head Coach were more obvious in his second year on the job. The team’s defense was atrocious, and he appeared to be obsessed with the “handedness” of players and their stick curve. The Caps finished with a record of 38-30-14 for 90 points and they missed the playoffs, which resulted in both Oates getting fired and the General Manager, George McPhee, not having his contract renewed.