It was a disappointing season for Tomas Jurco, though to no fault of his own. The second round pick in 2011 was chatted with Slovak news agencies TASR and SITA about his ice time while practicing for the World Championships.
“Nobody explained to me why I didn’t play, even after the season at the
exit meeting with the general manager, he remained silent. In other
words, the coach decided. In March I almost played no games, and it was
annoying. We’ll see what happens in Detroit in the summer…”
via The Malik Report
He does have every right to be mad. Up until the back to back games in early April against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins, he hadn’t played in a game since a 1-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 13. Sure, he only had six points in 44 games, but when you only get more than 10 minutes of ice time in 17 of them, I wouldn’t say that Jeff Blashill is giving him much of a chance this season.
Now, Blashill does have a case. Jurco has a P/60 of just 0.94, which ranks 13th amongst Wings forwards. In theory, this means that if Blashill was aiming to have the 12 most productive players in the lineup, Jurco wouldn’t be in it. However, three players played fewer games than Jurco: Andreas Athanasiou, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Joakim Andersson. And one player played more games despite being less productive: Brad Richards.
Meanwhile, on the possession side of the game, he has a 50.18% Score Adjusted CF%, which ranks 14th on the team, so if Blashill wanted the 12 best possession forwards in the lineup, Jurco would be in the press box. However, five players played fewer games than him: Eric Tangradi, Pulkkinen, Anthony Mantha, Tomas Nosek, and Athanasiou. And two players were worse with more ice time: Justin Abdelkader and Luke Glendening.
So, while you can fault Blashill for not giving Jurco the chance, but you can also fault Jurco for not exactly earning the minutes either. Everyone who is worse offensively or defensively than him is better in the other category, and you can make the case that two players who were in less than he was deserved it more, that being Athanasiou and Pulkkinen.
It’s an unfortunate situation for Jurco, as there is a massive clog of forwards on the Wings, and he can’t go to the minors without being put on waivers, and Detroit wouldn’t want to risk losing a young player for nothing. So, he’s stuck. Now, if the Wings decide to not resign Richards and Helm, his chances improve, but odds are the only way he’s getting out of this is via trade.
Jurco didn’t have his best season, and unfortunately for him, it was his chance to give the new coach a good first impression. While his PDO was the worst among Detroit regulars, Blashill doesn’t seem to want to give him a chance, and yet the only way for him to make an impression is getting a chance. If anything, this means that his upcoming World Championships tournament is of significant importance to him, because if he puts together a good performance, it might be his chance to leave a lasting impression on the Wings coach.
All advanced statistics are from War on Ice. All ice time stats are from NHL.