Home > Season Recap > The 2010-2011 Player Review: Dainius Zubrus

The 2010-2011 Player Review: Dainius Zubrus

Zubrus had yet another up-and-down season where he failed to record over 30 points. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will break down the 2010-2011 Devils season. We’ll cover the big team stories, but also offer a breakdown of individual player performances. In today’s review, we focus on Dainius Zubrus.

Last year marked the halfway point of Dainius Zubrus’ six-year, $20.4 million contract with the New Jersey Devils. In many ways, that single fact alone was good news for fans. Zubrus, who has never fulfilled the offensive billing from his days with the Washington Capitals, will soon come off the books. Many analysts and fans, including me, predicted the team would trade him last year to clear cap space. He didn’t move, however, sticking around for the entire season.

In his three seasons with the Devils, Zubrus played a multitude of different positions on various lines. That continued throughout the first half of the season, when he shifted between the second and third lines. That affected his production and made him almost invisible. When Lemaire came in, he made Zubrus an anchor on the second line, and his production benefitted. Just like Henrik Tallinder, Zubrus went through two different seasons this year. In the end, he proved to be a valuable piece of a productive second line. But even that wouldn’t erase feelings of frustration among fans and analysts alike.

Zubrus At Even Strength

Zubrus ranked among the top in both games played by centers (79) and time on ice per 60 (13.83) during the season, trailing only Travis Zajac in those two categories. His minus-0.02 rating isn’t terrible, considering the season the first half of the season. His quality of competition ranked second on the team (plus-0.027) and he generally played with skilled linemates, checking in with the highest quality of teammates (plus-0.089).

Playing with better teammates provided Zubrus with ample opportunities to contribute offensively. He ranked second on the team in both goals for on the ice (40) and goals for on per 60 (2.20). His shots for per 60 checked in at 25.4, ranking third among the centers. In total, Zubrus provided positive value on the ice. His Corsi rating of plus-6.87 ranked second among centers, showing he helped generate offense and kept the opponents at bay.

Zubrus also provided some solid defensive last season. He helped hold opponents to 21.7 shots per 60 while on the ice. Off the ice, those numbers worsened to 24.3 shots against.

During five-on-five play, Zubrus fit his billing as a decent two-way center with some offensive skill. His numbers will be higher than others because of his teammates, but he also had a few productive months as well. In February alone, he scored six goals in in 13 games. While he’ll never be a top-line center, he proved to be a solid second-line option.

Zubrus On The Powerplay

Despite the powerplay’s issues, Zubrus excelled during man-advantage situations this season. His time on ice of 2.32 ranked third among centers, and he usually helped anchor the second powerplay unit. His plus-0.29 rating ranked third, but second among centers who averaged regular powerplay time.

Zubrus led centers for overall goal production on the ice, with the team scoring 15 powerplay goals. His 4.91 goals for per 60 ranked, predictably, first among centers. He generated shots on net, with his 49.4 shots per 60 ranking second.

The evidence for Zubrus’ effective man-advantage play lies in the off-ice numbers. With Zubrus on the bench, numbers dropped across the board. Goals for per 60 dropped to 3.59, shots for per 60 dropped to dropped to 40.9, and the Corsi dropped from 89.39 to 75.32.

The stats don’t lie – Zubrus proved his worth on the powerplay. On the ice he produced, and the team struggled without him. Clearly it wasn’t enough to make the powerplay one of the league’s best. But in a season where the Devils powerplay was ineffective, Zubrus excelled.

Zubrus performed best on the powerplay, putting up points and enjoying a high Corsi rating. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Zubrus On The Penalty Kill

Zubrus wasn’t a main penalty killer this season, but he did spend some time killing penalties. His 0.65 time on ice per 60 ranked next to last for all centers. Behind the Net ranks Brian Rolston as a center, though, so the number is slightly skewed. Zubrus faced the toughest quality of competition (plus-1.020) with the best quality of teammates (plus-0.175).

Playing with the best teammates didn’t spell success for the Devils’ center. He carried one of the worst goals per 60 (minus-5.86) and plus/minus ratings (minus-4.86). The shots against per 60 checked in at 31.6, which actually ranked the lowest of all centers. That could be skewed because of the quality of teammates.

Off the ice, the goals against per 60 dropped (5.33) but shots against did rise considerably (38.8). The Corsi numbers prove that it wasn’t an anomaly, giving Zubrus a robust -48.02 on the ice. That number jumps with him off, increasing to minus-66.49.

So what do the numbers say? Zubrus wasn’t a great penalty-killer. He played with the best teammates but couldn’t stop the best opponents. He didn’t get much time, but any time spent killing penalties was a waste.

Conclusion

We’ve all shared some frustration, either publicly or privately, about Zubrus in his three years as a Devil. He always teases us with potential, but never takes it to the next level. That continued this season, with him teasing fans with strong play but failing to be a consistent point producer. A look at his month-by-month production shows that frustrating trend:

October – 12 GP, one goal, six assists

November – 12 GP, two goals, one assist

December – 13 GP, one goal, two assists

January – 11 GP, three goals, one assist

February – 13 GP, six goals, two assists

March – 14 GP, zero goals, three assists

April – 4 GP, zero goals, two assists

His production spiked during January and February, when Lemaire put him on the second line with Patrik Elias and Rolston. When March rolled around, games became tighter, and Zubrus once again faded from the picture.

Going forward, Zubrus will once again see his name in trade rumors. His $3.4 million cap hit sits like an albatross on a team that desperately needs cap relief. For three years, he hasn’t yet fulfilled the second-line center role. Trading him won’t be easy either, as he fails to meet expectations of a scoring center. Last season followed a familiar pattern for Zubrus. Some good, mostly invisible, and constantly frustrating.

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