With the season for the Colorado Avalanche complete, it’s time to take a look back at the individual players and how they performed.
Next up? Logan O’Connor.
First, let’s take a look at all of O’Connor’s stats from the 2022-23 season.
Goals: 9 (career high)
Assists: 17 (career high)
Points: 26 (career high)
If you look at O’Connor’s numbers from a purely statistical point of view, he did a little better than last season. Not a whole lot better, as his goal and assist totals only went up by one, but better. That’s never a bad thing. This season, however, didn’t really feel like a step forward. Maybe it did for the first half of the season, but in the second half, he trailed off in a big way offensively.
That has been a theme in both of O’Connor’s full NHL seasons – long scoring draughts. And both of those scoring draughts have come around the same time. Now, he’s not in the lineup just to score goals, but a 38 game goalless streak this year and a 45 game goalless streak last season are tough to defend. You can’t have a forward in your lineup going awol on the scoresheet for half a season. His shot generation this year was about the same, but he struggled to get his shots on net with the same consistency of a year ago.
O’Connor’s in the lineup for energy and to kill penalties. The penalty killing portion of his game was still there. Last year, he led all forwards in shorthanded time-on-ice per game. This year, he was third behind Compher and Cogliano, and was tied with Valeri Nichushkin for the team lead in shorthanded points.
The energy? Maybe he’s like the rest of the team in that the energy levels weren’t there all year, but it sure didn’t feel like the same O’Connor we saw the previous year.
That kind of brings me to the main point of it all – injuries and lack of depth forced the Avalanche to over-extend O’Connor. He’s not the only one, but it was evident as the year went on.
O’Connor finished 7th on the team in average time-on-ice per game at forward. Last year, he was 9th. In the playoffs last Spring, when he was tremendous, he was 10th. Last year’s team may be an unfair one to compare to, because they had a combination of high-end talent and depth that teams dream of, but O’Connor is a much better fit in a fourth line role compared to a third line role. When a third line player on your team goes almost half a season without a goal, it’s very noticeable. However, none of this usage is his fault. He’s not responsible for roster construction.
The Avalanche just didn’t have the depth to play him in a fourth line role, and his play suffered a bit. He was used in a heavy shut-down role as opposed to an energy fourth line role, and finished near the bottom of the team in shot share. He started 13% more shifts in the defensive zone this season. Combine that with more time-on-ice, and it’s harder to see that energy side of his game.
Season Grade: C
O’Connor is a good role player, and will be for years to come. He’s a tremendous skater and causes havoc on the penalty kill pretty consistently. However, an increased role on the team that he wasn’t fit for didn’t put him in the best position. It’s hard to hold that against the player, as they can’t control the depth of the team, so maybe this grade is on a bit of a curve. If the Avalanche can find a way to add one or two good forwards in front of O’Connor on the depth chart, I think we’ll see a better version of him. He has to avoid an extended scoring draught, though. He didn’t this year, and that knocks him down a bit.