During the dog days of summer, NHL news can be scarce but hockey fans are an insatiable breed so to fill up some of those empty summer spaces, we will be doing individual profiles of the Florida Panthers players. In these profiles, we will dish on the players’ previous season, what we can expect next year and also take a look back at their careers. We hope these little pieces help all you Panther fans retain your sanity while we hold on in anticipation of the new season this fall.
Marcel Goc is a player who flies under the radar. He is not the flashiest player, he does not score tons of goals and he won’t land the bone shattering body check. What he does do is the little things. He is strong in the face-off circle, he plays solid defense, and he grinds on the penalty kill. So while he probably won’t land on the cover of Sports Illustrated anytime soon, Goc is an invaluable asset and the kind of player any team would love to have centering their third or fourth lines.
The Florida Panthers would love the luxury to deploy Goc on their third or fourth line. Ostensibly that was the plan going into last season, unfortunately the Panthers were rocked by injuries and Goc was forced into a much larger role.
Goc averaged 18:16 of ice time per game last year, the highest total of his career. Out of Panther forwards, only Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann averaged more ice time last season. Goc’s status as the teams best face-off man, and his penalty killing ability contributed to his increased playing time last year. His 2:07 penalty kill minuets per game were tops among Panther forwards. He also took a team high 786 face-offs, the closest Panther to that total was Drew Shore who took 443. Think about that for a second…Marcel Goc took 343 more face-offs than any other Panther. That means if there was ever a draw in an important situation, you could bet your first born that Goc would be out there for the Panthers.
How did the extended playing time help Goc’s production? In 42 games last season, Goc tallied 9 goals and 10 assists. That scoring rate projected over a full 82 game season would give him just under 40 points, not bad for a guy who will probably be the Panthers third line center next year.
At 29, Goc will be entering his ninth NHL season this year. Not counting last year’s lockout shortened season, Goc has averaged 63.7 games a season which indicates that while he has avoided serious season ending injuries, he usually picks up a knock or two during the course of each year. Here are Goc’s career numbers:
As you can see in the chart below, Goc experienced a jump in production when he moved from the Sharks to the Predators before the 2010 season. He has been able to sustain this increase in production and he has settled nicely into a range of about .45 points per game. If Goc can remain healthy for a full season he could make a run at 20 goals and 40 points.
Goc is entering the final year of his contract with the Panthers. An unrestricted free agent next summer, it is highly likely that this will be his final season with the Panthers. The German center will most likely see a minutes drop off this year as the Panthers have a log-jam of sorts at the center position. In addition to Goc, the Panthers have Barkov, Bjugstad, Matthias and Shore vying for playing time. If all five of these players make the team, which is very likely, one will have to play out of position. Goc’s defensive ability and his face-off acumen should be enough to assure him a spot at center but chances are, that spot will be on either the third or fourth line.
No matter where Goc plays, we can expect a continuation of the production levels he has established over the last four seasons. Goc should continue to play a vital role on the penalty kill and he will remain one of Kevin Dineen‘s best high stakes draw-takers. My guess is, we will see him play about 65 games and produce about 30 points. If he reaches those two numbers than 2013-14 would have to be considered a successful year for Marcel Goc.