Friday saw the club lose its captain Daniel Alfredsson for nothing. A few hours later, they traded Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, and a first round pick for Bobby Ryan. Something else happened in between those events as well though - the Ottawa Senators signed Clarke MacArthur to a two-year deal worth $3.25 million in each season.
MacArthur is coming off a 20-point season in 40 games, but he had 43 points in 73 games and 62 points in 82 games in the two seasons before that. So his points/game has dipped from 0.76 in 2010-2011 to 0.59 in 2011-2012 and now 0.50 in 2012-2013. What has changed in that time frame?
In 2010-2011, the Maple Leafs shot 9.59% in 5-on-5 situations with MacArthur on the ice, which isn't absurdly high. He played against average competition (Corsi Rel QoC of +0.379 which was 8th highest out of 13 forwards) and had an offensive zone start % of 49.5%. Mikhail Grabovski had 58 points and Nikolai Kulemin had 57 points so all three linemates were around 60 points. All three did have high shooting percentages themselves, with MacArthur at 13.6%, Grabovski at 12.1% and Kulemin at 17.3% but the trio also led the team with 43 points each on even strength with an average on-ice shooting % 5-on-5. While the percentages helped, that line also had a lot of shots with Grabovski at 239, Kulemin at 173 and MacArthur at 154. In terms of 5-on-5 overall play, the Leafs had a Corsi (difference in attempted shots for and against) of +8.54 per 60 minutes with MacArthur on and -10.78 with him off.
Clearly in 2010-2011, that line absolutely clicked for the Leafs, drove possession for the team, and had the benefit of shooting percentages as will. What happened in 2011-2012? While Grabovski was still shooting at 14.1%, and MacArthur was again at 13.5%, Kulemin dropped to 6.5% scoring just 7 goals all season. Another reason is that the line started being matched up against the opposition's top line, which in turn lowered MacArthur possession numbers to +3.74 by Corsi On ice and +7.2 Corsi relative to the rest of the team.
With Randy Carlyle coaching the Leafs for all of the 2013 season, MacArthur was split up from Grabovski and Kulemin and played with Nazem Kadri and an assortment of other wingers. He was used less by Carlyle, dropping to under 15 minutes a game from a high of over 17 minutes in 2010-2011. His power play time was also reduced to just 1:38, having played 2:55 of power play time per game two years ago. MacArthur's offensive production dropped but he still dominated possession, posting a Corsi relative of +16.2 (Leafs had Corsi of -3.93 with MacArthur on and -20.12 with him off).
Here is MacArthur driving the net like a good Canadian kid and scoring a goal in the playoffs against the Boston Bruins.
What can Ottawa expect from MacArthur? He is likely going to be playing with Kyle Turris on both even strength and on the second power play unit. Judging by the 2011-2012 season, Jason Spezza will be used in the offensive zone a bit more than Turris. Turris played around 17 minutes per game when Spezza was healthy and this is probably the upper bound for how much MacArthur may end up playing.
The other good news with MacArthur is that he has always been a high percentage shooter, with a career average of 13.9%, having been below 12.9% just once in his career. MacArthur was at his best when paired with Grabovski but as Cam Charron at The Leafs Nation suggested, they were complementing each other rather than Grabovski carrying him.
If MacArthur is used around 17 minutes a night, we can probably expect him to get around 150 shots which should result in about 20 goals at his career shooting average. He doesn't have Daniel Alfredsson's legacy, but he is 12 years younger and maybe a better player on the ice next season. If I had to compare him to one player on the Senators, I would say MacArthur sounds like a much more talented version of Erik Condra. Cam on the other hand describes him as "an unspectacular player that just plays the game." That also sounds like Condra to me.