O’Reilly vs. Duchene: Who’s really better?

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In response to my last post, several people commented that I was only considering offensive output. While I generally consider offensive output more important in a forward, O’Reilly’s defensive skills are also worth noting. In this post I’m going to provide a more complete statistical picture of the two players.

Unfortunately, Hockey Analysis is the only site I’ve found where I can compare players when they are together and when they’re not. That site is limited in terms of the stats presented, so the stats below show their overall number for the season instead.

O’Reilly’s numbers (including rank among team forwards):
Time on ice / game: 19.5 mins (1st on team)
Goals: 28 (1st on team)
Assists: 36 (4th on team)
Corsi for rel %: +2.6 (5th)
Zone start rel %: -1.8 (6th toughest)
Hits: 22 (13th)
Blocked shots: 43 (6th)
Giveaways: 33 (3rd)
Takeaways: 83 (1st)
Faceoff win %: 51.8 (3rd)
% of team faceoffs taken: 7.7 (6th)
Powerplay time on ice / game: 2:39 (3rd)
Penalty kill time on ice / game: 1:09 (5th)

Duchene’s numbers:
Time on ice / game: 18.2 mins (3rd)
Goals: 23 (5th)
Assists: 47 (1st)
Corsi for rel %: +3.5 (2nd)
Zone start rel %: +0.4 (7th toughest)
Hits: 53 (10th)
Blocked shots: 44 (5th)
Giveaways: 36 (1st)
Takeaways: 40 (4th)
Faceoff win %: 50.3 (4th)
% of team faceoffs taken: 24.8 (2nd)
Powerplay time on ice / game: 2:43 (2nd)
Penalty kill time on ice / game: 0:15 (9th)

Here’s another chart for you visual people (all numbers converted to a 10 point scale):
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As I established in my last post, Duchene is a better offensive player, so let’s focus though on the non-offensive stats. Duchene is the clear leader in hits and % of team faceoffs and has a slight lead in blocks and PP TOI. O’Reilly has a clear lead in takeaways, zone start % and short handed time on ice/game as well as a slight lead in and giveaways, faceoff %. The last stat I want to look at is the Corsi number, which represents the number of shots for vs the shots against compared to when the player is not on the ice. I consider this to be both an offensive and a defensive stat, and Duchene is the clear leader here.

Overall, it does indeed seem to be the case that O’Reilly is the better defensive player. He starts more often in the defensive zone by design, and he gets more penalty kill time. His takeaway numbers are also of course ridiculously high. What I found interesting here is that O’Reilly’s numbers did not generally dominate Duchene’s. It seems that Duchene is also a pretty good defensive player.

So, the question still remains - which player is better? I think it comes down to which of these numbers you think is more important. Essentially, it’s a matter of opinion. The numbers by themselves don’t clearly indicate one player over another. As such, I am changing my opinion and saying that O’Reilly’s current contract is in fact justified. He’s probably worth about as much as Duchene in terms of his on-ice performance. 

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