The season is young, but the Flyers have struggled thus far to bring the puck into the offensive zone with possession. The average team dumps the puck in on about half of their zone entries; last year the Flyers were a little better than average, keeping the dump-ins down to 47 percent, but this year their dump-in rate has skyrocketed to 57 percent.
Gaining the zone with possession is an important driver of offensive success; carrying the puck in leads to more than twice as many shots, scoring chances, and goals as dumping it in. So while the season is young, the Flyers' frequent dump-ins have me a bit concerned. The last thing I would expect right now is for the Flyers to bench one of the few players who has been driving offensive zone puck possession.
Wellwood is doing as much as anyone on the team to drive play forward. He is second on the team in total entries with possession and has the most per unit ice time. His 88 percent carry-in rate is undoubtedly not sustainable -- for comparison, last year Jaromir Jagr led the Flyers with 74 percent, while Wellwood was a respectable-but-not-outstanding 55 percent.
But so far this year, Wellwood has made great use of his speed to create space and opportunity.
The remarkable thing is that Wellwood has generated those offensive possessions while being saddled with linemates who provide virtually zero offensive support. His four most-frequent linemates this year are Ruslan Fedotenko, Max Talbot, Zac Rinaldo, and Jody Shelley. If anything, I would hope that his outstanding puck possession so far this year would be rewarded by moving him up in the lineup to work with players who are more likely to score on the shots his entries generate; instead, he found himself sent to the AHL for roster room.
Eric Wellwood deserves to play
Broad Street Hockey | Jan 28