Barry Trotz’s Treatment Of Young Forwards Is Concerning


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Barry Trotz has been a very successful coach in the NHL. In Barry Trotz’s 15 years of coaching in the NHL (not including this season), he took the Nashville Predators to the playoffs seven times. He did this despite having average at best forwards. That said, when you look at his career, Barry Trotz has had one major flaw. That flaw: how he has handled young forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky

Evgeny Kuznetsov was placed on the fourth line with guys who simply were not talented, and he seemed to get blamed when that line wasn’t producing. It’s kind of hard for a line to produce when you have an extremely inexperienced center (Kuznetsov), a very young left wing (Liam O’Brien) and a right wing who really ought to be the center (Michael Latta or Jay Beagle). This led to Kuznetsov being scratched several times in favor of Latta.

Once Andre Burakovsky started “struggling” (I use that term lightly because he still has a 53.52 CF% at even strength and a 2.32% CorsiRel%), Kuznetsov joined the second line and Burakovsky was demoted down to the fourth line. Kuznetsov has had success on the second line, so now Burakovsky is either on the fourth line or being scratched. He’s been scratched the past two games. 

What’s the most confusing thing is that now it sounds like Barry Trotz wants to “rotate” Kuznetsov and Burakovsky in the second line center role, and scratch the one who isn’t the second line center. That makes absolutely no sense. Not only is that detrimental to the Washington Capitals, that could be even more detrimental to the futures of Kuznetsov and Burakovsky. Young players like them need to be playing everyday so that they can continue to develop. I don’t care where it is, I just want Kuznetsov and Burakovsky to get consistent playing time.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Barry Trotz didn’t handle a young forward well. Last season, it was Filip Forsberg who was probably mishandled by Barry Trotz. Here’s a look at his time on ice per game, CorsiRel, TOICompetition, and Offensive Zone Starts:

Courtesy of

Barry Trotz was Forsberg’s coach during the 2012-2013 season and 2013-2014 season. The size of the circle represents his TOI. Barry Trotz only let Forsberg get a shade over nine minutes of ice time at even strength last season, and clearly didn’t utilize his skills as far as offensive zone starts (the x-axis variable). Granted, he only played in 13 games last season. However, it is worth noting that under a new coach who isn’t burying Forsberg, he’s thriving and having a ton of success.

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  • Something else that is probably worth noting: Barry Trotz did not get along well with Russian forward Alexander Radulov. In fact, Radulov went to the KHL twice because of Trotz. Looking at his usage, it doesn’t appear that he was under-utilized though. Radulov is still relevant in all of this because Radulov is probably the most skilled forward that Trotz dealt with in Nashville, and he was slightly older than Burakovsky when he first played for Trotz. Kuznetsov and Burakovsky are of the same playing style as Radulov.

    Why Barry Trotz is keeping Burakovsky up in the NHL if he’s just going to make him a healthy scratch is beyond me. If he’s set with Kuznetsov as the second line center, that’s fine, just send Burakovsky to Hershey so that he can get consistent playing time and work on things (namely, his defense). If he could do it with O’Brien, I can’t see why he won’t do it with Burakovsky, whose development is far more important to the future of the Capitals.

    Barry Trotz has had a lot of success in the NHL and that’s not an accident. He clearly knows what he is doing and he has make the Washington Capitals’ defense better. However, his treatment of young forwards is quite concerning, to say the least. Is his handling of young forwards his Achilles’ heel? Only time will tell.