Yesterday, we looked at the Leafs forwards results from the perspecitve of possession metrics. Today we continue that investigation, this time with an eye to the Leafs blueline.
|Player||Corsi Rel QoC||Corsi Rel QoT||Ozone% Start||Ozone% Finish||Corsi Rel||Corsi On||5v5 Tied Fenwick %||Sh%|
Again, several lessons emerge from these numbers:
• No one on the Leafs’ defence was particularly good at driving possession last year, though Beauchemin, Phaneuf and Schenn all performed acceptably given the relatively tough minutes they faced.
• Aulie faced ridiculously tough minutes for a rookie and not surprisingly, fared poorly. He was bailed out by Reimer’s incredible performance behind him and could benefit from a more sheltered role next year.
• Lebda and Komisarek had the easiest minutes on the team and performed atrociously.
• Kaberle’s performance was decidedly mediocre given the relatively easy minutes he enjoyed. Gunnarsson seems well positioned to replace him at even strength.
Turning to the newcomers, there is more reason for optimism:
|Player||Year||Corsi Rel QoC||Corsi Rel QoT||Ozone% Start||Ozone% Finish||Corsi Rel||Corsi On||5v5 Tied Fenwick %||Sh%|
|Liles||2010-11||0.484 (2)||0.361 (2)||55.6 (1)||50.8 (5)||7.1 (1)||-1.49 (2)||0.481 (2)||.898 (6)|
|2009-10||-0.688 (6)||0.338 (6)||56.2 (1)||51.6 (2)||2.4 (3)||-10.57 (3)||0.469 (3)||.923 (6)|
|2008-09||-0.054 (5)||-0.668 (5)||52.4 (1)||49.6 (2)||6.4 (1)||-2.47 (1)||0.450 (3)||.899 (5)|
|Franson||2010-11||-0.637 (7)||-0.870 (4)||50.3 (1)||47.0 (6)||5.5 (3)||2.45 (3)||0.529 (3)||.943 (1)|
|2009-10||-1.087 (7)||0.046 (4)||54.3 (1)||51.8 (2)||11.7 (1)||12.76 (1)||0.538 (1)||.945 (1)|
These players offer definite upgrades over what the Leafs finished the season with last year:
• Franson clearly played a third pair role with Nashville but knocked it out of the park in that role. He was a possession monster (though he benefited from stellar goaltending behind him, which is probably more attributable to the soft competition he faced than some particular ability to suppress opposing shooting percentages better than Shea Weber et al.).
• Liles is a bit of an enigma. Last year he performed relatively well in a first pair role. However, the preceding two years he performed worse with softer minutes. He probably belongs in a second pair role.
The bottom line for the Leafs defence is they do not have anyone who has proven he can handle a true "first pair" role of taking on the best the opposition can offer and thriving against it. Phaneuf is considered our closest thing to a "top pair" defender, but he enjoyed sheltered minutes while in Calgary and has had mixed defensive performances when thrust into that role in Toronto. However, some combination of Phaneuf, Liles, Gunnarsson and Schenn should be at least as good as Phaneuf, Beauchemin, Kaberle and Schenn were last year, and Aulie and Franson should represent a considerable upgrade over the nightmare of Komisarek and Lebda that we suffered through for so much of last season.
Overall, I think the best case scenario for the Leafs is to improve from being one of the worst five possession teams in the NHL last year, to falling somewhere in the 15-20 range. If they can combine that with above average goaltending from Reimer, it should be good enough to challenge for the last two playoff spots in the East.