We are approaching the NHL’s trade deadline with a lot of speculation on which player is or players are likely to become a Boston Bruin in the near future. In this piece, we will take a closer look a five players Jimmy Murphy has identified as targets for Bruins’ General Manager, Don Sweeney.
The Defensive Solution: Brenden Dillon
First up is Brenden Dillon, the San Jose Shark’s big defensemen is 6’4 and 225-lbs. He’s deployed as a defensive defenseman much like Bruin’s Captain Zdeno Chara with lots of five-on-five play, penalty killing duty and defensive zone starts.
Dillon’s offensive contributions are minimal but his on-ice defensive numbers would be much improved with better save support; his on-ice five-on-five expected goals against rate is a respectable 2.1 expected goals against per 60-mins.
It’s impossible to derive definite assessments based on hockey statistics, because of the influence of teammates, quality opposition and deployment, but we can attempt to gain some content by looking at Dillon’s performance relative to his teammates.
In this quadrant chart, we can see that Dillon performs quite favourably in relation to his teammates and the league as well. His possession numbers are good (defined here by shot attempts percentage on the X-axis) as are his suppression numbers (defined here as expected goals against on the Y-axis).
The Offensive Solution: Kyle Palmieri or Chris Kreider
These players will come with a hefty price tag, but there’s no denying what they can bring to the Bruins. Using the VERSUS PLAYER tool from www.waveintel.org, you can easily see that these players bring a lot of offence both at five-on-five and on the power play.
The blue bars and special indicators represent the percent rank within The NHL for forwards. We can see that they are in the top third or quarter of most offensive categories.
Both players play on teams with poor defensive performance so it would be normal to see their five-on-five on-ice numbers on the low end, which makes Palmieri’s good defensive numbers standout as impressive.
If we look at each player’s performance relative to all NHL forwards in the graph above, we can see that both players standout on the good side of both power play and five-on-five offensive production. Again, Palmieri stands out both among his teammates and relative to the league as a premier power play performer.
The Gambles: Ondrej Kase and Joe Thornton
Here we have two players on opposite ends of the career spectrum, but both represent gambles of sorts; low risk, high reward. And I am not privy to what it would cost to acquire Kase, a young player with upside. But, based on their respective performances this season, there is some risk in acquiring a player that may not have the required, expected impact.
As offensive players, they are both having mediocre seasons. Thornton is not getting the power play time he once did, and is subsequently not producing there either. In Kase’s case, the numbers would tell us that he is snake bitten; with a ton of shots (135) on the net and a very low shooting percentage (5.2%). He may be that player, with a new start, that could break out. His five-on-five on-ice statistics are very good offensively and it shows in his relative statistics (shot attempts and goals share). Considering his team has not been good this season, these on-ice statistics are impressive; he has the best possession numbers of all Anaheim Ducks’ forwards.
Don Sweeney has many options. It’s really a matter of opportunity and willingness to pay the price required to upgrade at positions of need.
All graphs in this article are courtesy of www.waveintel.org.