Still searching for Francois Beauchemin

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:

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  TOI/60 Corsi ON Rel QoC Ozone%
François Beauchemin 19.08 -0.15 0.998 47.6%
Jake Gardiner 17.11 0.28 -0.328 56.0%
John-Michael Liles 16.99 -0.86 -0.192 51.6%
Cody Franson 14.26 2.80 -0.698 52.0%

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.

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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.

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  • Danny Gray

    Using these kind of metrics for a game like hockey is beyond useless. There are way too many variables involved to get even a semi-accurate representation of a players game.

    I don’t disagree with your assertion that management has yet to replace F. Beauchemin – it just has very little to do with his Corsi ON or Rel QoC.

    If you put a team together based on these formulas it’s just as likely you’d have the worst team in hockey – as it is you’d have the best team in hockey. And therein lies the problem with metrics such as these – at the end of the day they’re just window dressing.

    There’s a reason they call it Moneyball and not Moneypuck.

    • Danny Gray

      “I don’t disagree with your assertion that management has yet to replace F. Beauchemin – it just has very little to do with his Corsi ON or Rel QoC.”

      Why do you say that? These numbers back up what many people observed with their eyes. Unfortunately many people did not appreciate what Beauchemin brought to the Leafs while he was here. Stats like Corsi ON and Rel QoC help to provide proof that his role was an important one, and he did it well. You know objective evidence that most people use to make arguments.

  • Are you saying Lombardi built his team on these formulas?? I missed that article.

    …and besides – if you quoted the rest of that sentence you’d be proving my point.

    The arguement I’m making is that these metrics you’re talking about mean so little that they become almost inconsequential.

    Like I said – I agree that we have yet to replace Beauchemin.

    … perhaps Holzer?? You have any AHL numbers on him?

  • You can’t build a team purely using analytics. But you also can’t build a team purely based on your gut.

    What I’m trying to show is that Beauchemin plays big, tough minutes and the Leafs don’t have anybody who can fill in. I’m quantifying it in a way that “the Leafs lost Beauchemin, screw Burke” can’t.

  • I get what you’re saying. Being able to have a tangible number for these things is nice – but it is really not indicative of a players value. As I said in my first post – WAY too many variables in a game like hockey. In my opinion these numbers are more of an evaluation on coaches rather than players.

    Beauchemin is a solid 2 way D-man.. we knew that before people started throwing around these numbers.

    Let me explain it this way – and we’ll use The Kings as an example as Cam did earlier. We’ll look at both sides of the coin.

    Take the team average of these numbers BDS (before Darryl Sutter) and ADS (after Darryl Sutter). If the team numbers are relatively
    consistent then the Kings went from middle of the pack to world beaters with no significsnt change in the numbers. If conversely, the team averages are drastically improved then we know something as simple as a coaching change/style can change a players percieved worth. Either way – I wouldn’t be making any valuation of a players worth solely based on these numbers.

    The sabermetrics people use in baseball work.. because the variables are minimal. I just don’t think they’re of any consequence for sports such as hockey, basketball or football (soccer).

    I’m not trying to be a pain in the arse here – just giving an opinion.

    • Danny Gray

      “Beauchemin is a solid 2 way D-man.. we knew that before people started throwing around these numbers.”

      Plenty of people didn’t know that, and still don’t think that. The numbers help to prove that point.

      And the point of looking at the numbers is that you can see if it was actually the coaching change, or if the team was going to get better eventually because they were a good team that just was getting really unlucky.

  • Not Norm Ullman

    Just on Beauchemin (who I really quite like, and would LOVE to have back), I think it’s important to run the flip-side on his numbers. If we’re going to use some measurement of the Q of Competition, I really think we have to run some measure of the Q of Teammate as well. They may not be perfect, but let’s face it – it makes life tougher if you’re facing off against Crosby, but it also makes life easier if you’re lining up with him on your side, right? And on that basis, we see once again, that Beauchemin had the BEST Q of team-mate of any Anaheim defence. So, yes, his Relative Q of C was + 0.998 but his relative Q of T was +3.699. This definitely weakens the case a bit for our man for Beauchemin. In real-life terms, this means lining up with Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan more than anyone else, and after that Selanne and co. These guys all had very high Relative Corsi’s, and positive Corsi’s.

    In terms of offense, he looks very much like the worst amongst Anaheim’s defenders – lowest in Points per 60, as well as Goals For per 60, and the team scored more when he was off the ice.

    Defensively, he had the 2nd worst goals against per 60, and the team improved defensively with him off the ice.

    And when we look at OZ starts, there were actually 2 other Anaheim defencemen who had equally low OZ starts.

    In sum, when I add that all up, though my eyes still tell me Beauchemin is a good defenceman, and I agree that we need just such a guy for the 2nd pairing (though I’d play him with Jake), I’m not sure the numbers are showing Beauchemin to be that guy last year.