The Toronto Maple Leafs traded François Beauchemin on February 9, 2011. Since that trade, the Leafs have added among NHL defencemen:
- Jake Gardiner
- John-Michael Liles
- Cody Franson
I’ve waged a miniature war against the minutes that Jake Gardiner played last season. I don’t think he’s good enough to hold down a Top Four spot on defence just yet, and there’s no real guarantee whether he trends upward or downwards next season. Ideally, I think you’d want a second pairing player to play about 16-17 minutes at 5-on-5 a night, face a Rel QoC of about 0.4+, and preferably be a plus-possession player.
Comparing players on different teams by possession stats is a fool’s errand, but I wanted to direct you to how strong of a player Beauchemin was with the Ducks last season:
|TOI/60||Corsi ON||Rel QoC||Ozone%|
Now, maybe, as Not Norm Ullman constantly points out to me in the comments section, overlooking Gardiner’s quality of teammates. He doesn’t play with the best Leafs, but it doesn’t make a difference up front. Gardiner plays with Kessel and Grabovski as much as Phaneuf or anybody does, the problem is that Gardiner tended to be bogged down by worse defencemen like Luke Schenn.
However, I think the above chart, using information from Behind the Net, is pretty clearly stating that Beauchemin still holds an ability to play big, tough minutes. He gets the benefit of playing with slightly stronger teammates (although his Corsi QoT is still negative) but starts more of his shifts in the defensive zone and sees much stronger competition.
I’ve argued before that the Leafs have a missing piece in the Top Four. The trade that sent Beauchemin to the Ducks yielded some fantastic return in both Gardiner, who, who knows, could be a legitimate Top Four defenceman someday, and Joffrey Lupul who was one of eight point-a-game players in the NHL last season.
However, the team never addressed getting a guy who could play those big minutes in place of Beauchemin. In his only full year with the team, Beauchemin played a team high 18.51 minutes with a .777 Rel QoC, second to only Dion Phaneuf. That season was also a possession boon for Toronto, whou ought to have made the playoffs if they had any kind of consistent goaltending.
Few guys who have played as much as Beauchemin effectively have moved teams in the last few seasons. Just Ryan Suter, who the Leafs were never going to get, and Brent Burns, who was traded from Minnesota to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi and some futures. Who knows if the Leafs were in on that or had a comparable package to offer, but it may have been a bit of an oversight.
You have to give up talent to get talent, but the problem with letting Beauchemin go is that the Leafs have yet to replace him.