Brent Seabrook vs. Johnny Boychuk

by Rick Roos on November 11, 2015

 

Five reasons why Brent Seabrook is a better fantasy hockey own than Johnny Boychuk…

 

It’s back to defensemen this week, focusing on two key multi-cat contributors in Brent Seabrook and Johnny Boychuk. Is Boychuk’s 2014-15 production sustainable? Can Seabrook continue to put up points once Duncan Keith returns?

 

Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Implications

Seabrook was a first round selection (14th overall) in the stacked 2003 entry draft, and lit up the WHL before landing with the Blackhawks to stay as a 20 year old. Seabrook’s production was consistent but unspectacular (24-32 points) in each of his first four seasons, while the likes of Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, James Wisniewski, Brian Campbell, and even – for one season – Cam Barker, piled up points from Chicago’s blueline. But Seabrook put himself solidly on the fantasy map with his 48 point 2010-11 campaign, only to regress in 2011-12 to a more familiar 34 points. And although he climbed back above 40 points in 2013-14, he dipped to 31 last season.

Boychuk was selected 61st overall by the Avs a year earlier than Seabrook. Whereas Seabrook played only three career AHL games, Boychuk toiled there for a staggering 374 contests. But after being dealt to the Bruins, Boychuk posted 66 points in 78 AHL games, earning him a spot with Boston, where, in five campaigns, he only once posted more than 16 points in the regular season despite scoring at just under a 30 point full season pace in 79 playoff contests. After being traded to the Islanders during the 2014 offseason in a cap crunch deal, Boychuk exploded for 35 points in just 72 games, awakening poolies in the process.

Per Cap Friendly, Seabrook’s cap hit is $5.8M this season before rising to $6.875M through 2023-24 based on the eight year extension he signed just before this season began, while Boychuk is on year one of a seven year deal that brings with it a $6M yearly cap hit.

 

Ice Time

Season

Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s defensemen)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s defensemen)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s defensemen

2014-15

22:10 (B.S.) – 2nd

21:40 (J.B) – 2nd

2:26 (B.S.) – 2nd

2:40 (J.B) – 1st (tied)

1:49 (B.S.) – 3rd

2:02 (J.B) – 1st

2013-14

22:15 (B.S.) – 2nd

21:11 (J.B) – 3rd

1:58 (B.S.) – 3rd

0:18 (J.B) – 6th

1:59 (B.S.) – 4th

2:54 (J.B) – 2nd

2012-13

21:59 (B.S.) – 2nd

20:24 (J.B) – 3rd

2:20 (B.S.) – 3rd

0:11 (J.B) – 4th

2:07 (B.S.) – 4th

2:31 (J.B) – 3rd

2011-12

24:43 (B.S.) – 2nd

20:36 (J.B) – 3rd

2:15 (B.S.) – 3rd

0:19 (J.B) – 5th

2:28 (B.S.) – 1st

2:13 (J.B) – 3rd

 

We have to take Boychuk’s data prior to 2013-14 with a huge grain of salt, since he was looked upon by Boston purely as a defensive stalwart. And although it’s still early, Boychuk’s 2015-16 PP Ice Time has cratered to 1:00 per game while his SH Ice Time is up by nearly 50% to 2:59 per game. While his PP Ice Time can be partially explained by the fact that through this past weekend the Isles were 29th in PP opportunities, it appears Boychuk might be looked upon less for offensive contribution this season.

 

Meanwhile, there’s not much to say about Seabrook, as he’s been very consistent year to year. It is interesting that his last 40+ point season in 2013-14 came when he didn’t even get 2:00 per game in PP Ice Time, so we have to check below if unsustainable good luck smiled too brightly upon him.

 

 

Secondary Categories

 

Season

PIM

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2014-15

0.33 (B.S.)

0.19 (J.B)

1.64 (B.S.)

2.37 (J.B)

1.72 (B.S.)

2.07 (J.B)

2.20 (B.S.)

2.66 (J.B)

0.18 (B.S.)

0.21 (J.B)

2013-14

0.27 (B.S.)

0.60 (J.B)

2.08 (B.S.)

2.10 (J.B)

1.73 (B.S.)

1.93 (J.B)

1.81 (B.S.)

1.89 (J.B)

0.11 (B.S.)

0.00 (J.B)

2012-13

0.49 (B.S.)

0.27 (J.B)

2.25 (B.S.)

1.79 (J.B)

2.19 (B.S.)

1.97 (J.B)

1.38 (B.S.)

1.70 (J.B)

0.15 (B.S.)

0.00 (J.B)

2011-12

0.28 (B.S.)

0.69 (J.B)

2.54 (B.S.)

1.88 (J.B)

2.11 (B.S.)

1.72 (J.B)

2.00 (B.S.)

2.22 (J.B)

0.05 (B.S.)

0.00 (J.B)

 

Although Seabrook is still a strong multi-cat contributor, his Hits rate has decreased in each of the past three seasons, as have his Blocked Shots in the past two. They’re still solid, but considering he was the only d-man in the entire NHL to post 150+ Hits and 150+ Blocked Shots in 2011-12, he’s not as elite as he once was. And that raises a key point – players who become known as multi-cat studs can sometimes undeservedly hold onto that same level of reputation even after their contributions have decreased at least somewhat. In Seabrook’s case, he’s still great in Hits and Blocked Shots, but he’s no longer going to give you truly unmatched contribution.

 

Nevertheless, Seabrook is unique in being able to contribute tons of Hits and Blocked Shots while also managing to stay healthy. Of the 24 d-men who posted 125+ Hits and 125+ Blocked Shots in 2011-12, none played more games in the next three seasons than Seabrook, who missed only one. In fact, just three (Shea Weber, Dan Girardi, Niklas Kronwall) missed five or fewer. Thus, Seabrook’s multi-cat prowess is made all the more valuable due to him being able to consistently stay in the line-up.

 

Both Seabrook and Boychuk also illustrate that just because a player is strong in both Hits and Blocked Shots doesn’t mean he’ll automatically give you PIM on top of that. Case in point – Seabrook averaged one PIM per game in his first three seasons, then well above one per two games in his next three; but over the past four, he’s never averaged one per every other game. And although Boychuk surpassed the one PIM per every two games threshold in each full season he played for the Bruins, he didn’t even average one per every five games last season despite both his Hits and Blocked Shots climbing.

 

Boychuk’s SOG rates in Boston were higher than I’d expected, and made him oddly unique. If we look at 2011-12, just 18 other d-men fired 170+ SOG that season, with only one (Dennis Seidenberg) also having a full season scoring pace less than 27 points. Thus, there were clues Boychuk had tools and instincts to produce if put into a favorable situation. And it also shows his SOG rate won’t crater while on the Isles even if his production goes down.

 

Meanwhile, in 2014-15 Seabrook saw his SOG increase above two per game for the first time in his career, even including his two 40+ point seasons. I’m guessing that was in some ways due to the departure of Nick Leddy. And if his SOG rate stays at 2+ this season (as it is now), that might have a lot to do with Keith missing time. Long story short, don’t count on Seabrook for above two SOG per game in future seasons, although the good news is that rate doesn’t appear to be tied to his production.

 

As far as PP Points, with Boychuk having amassed 43% of his points last season on the PP, if indeed his PP Ice Time stays down that should have a strongly negative impact on his output. For Seabrook, he’s shown he can produce without output on the PP, as in his 41 point 2013-14 season he only tallied one PP Point per nine games.

 

 

Luck-Based Metrics

Note that Boychuk didn’t play the necessary 50+ minutes at 5×4 in three of these seasons, which means his 5×4 IPP isn’t charted.

Season

PDO (5×5)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

2014-15

997 (B.S.)

998 (J.B)

54.5% (B.S.)

54.3% (J.B)

30.6% (B.S.)

34.0% (J.B)

71.4% (B.S.)

52.9% (J.B)

2013-14

997 (B.S.)

1024 (J.B)

56.2% (B.S.)

49.9% (J.B)

35.6% (B.S.)

25.4% (J.B)

56.2% (B.S.)

N/A (J.B)

2012-13

1016 (B.S.)

1005 (J.B)

55.8% (B.S.)

48.8% (J.B)

27.3% (B.S.)

21.4% (J.B)

87.5% (B.S.)

N/A (J.B)

2011-12

1007 (B.S.)

1012 (J.B)

49.8% (B.S.)

52.7% (J.B)

32.4% (B.S.)

22.1% (J.B)

30.0% (B.S.)

N/A (J.B)

 

Surprisingly, there seems to be little variation between Seabrook’s luck in his 34 and 31 points seasons (2011-12, 2014-15) versus his 41 point 2013-14 campaign. Even when he scored 48 points in 2010-11, his IPPs totaled roughly 100 while his PDO/SPSV was 989 and his OZ% a modest 51.6%. In Seabrook’s two 40+ point seasons, Keith was productive as well – posting the second highest and third highest (tied) points totals of his career -and as it turns out, Chicago was more productive as a team, finishing second and fourth in goals scored, versus 17th and 6th in the other two most recent full seasons where Seabrook didn’t reach 40. It might be as simple as a rising tide lifting all boats, including Seabrook’s.

 

The data from Boychuk’s final three seasons with the Bruins shows he did indeed benefit from more favorable OZ% with the Isles in 2014-15, although his OZ% in his 15 point 2011-12 season wasn’t unfavorable and he had somewhat comparable SH and Total Ice Time in that campaign versus 2014-15. Of course the difference was in PP Ice Time, which raises added concern if, in fact, Boychuk doesn’t return to more than 2:00 of PP Ice Time per game.

 

 

The winner is……..Brent Seabrook

Here are five key reasons why Seabrook wins this match, plus some specific advice for poolies who own one or both players:

1) Unlike Boychuk, Seabrook has virtually no downside

Boychuk presents an interesting case, as he went from virtual nobody to fantasy darling in the course of several weeks thanks to his trade from Boston and fast start to 2014-15. But if we disregard the six points he scored in his first three Islander games, Boychuk tallied 34 in his next 82. While that’s pretty decent, it’s essentially the bottom of the realistic range for Seabrook, who also provides a realistic chance of 40+ points when the team around him is firing on all cylinders.

2) Hype from last season has led to Boychuk being overvalued

On average, Seabrook was selected only eight spots earlier than Boychuk in Yahoo drafts for this season (121.4 vs. 129.4). Although Boychuk did indeed produce more than Seabrook nearly across the board last season, Boychuk has no track record of sustained success and tailed off toward the end of 2014-15. Certainly Boychuk was worthy of being among the top 160 players selected, but 129.4 seems a bit early, and likely a result of post-breakout hype.

3) Seabrook is wrongly overshadowed

For all his consistency, and despite playing for the high profile Blackhawks, Seabrook is not seen as an elite performer. If anything, Seabrook’s “steady eddie” contributions while playing alongside two time 60+ point scorer Duncan Keith seems to unfairly work against him.

4) Boychuk’s production is too tied to PP scoring, and his PP Ice Time is down for 2015-16

We can link much of Boychuk’s success to one thing – PP scoring (15 of his 35 points past season came on the PP). And if he continues to leak PP Ice Time in 2015-16, he’ll be hard pressed to score more than 30-35 points this season, with there even being a chance he slips to below 30.

5) Seabrook provides a unique combination of multi-cat contribution and consistent health

Seabrook is in a class of his own when it comes to producing top notch Hits and Blocked Shots while also staying healthy. Boychuk likely will give your team more in both stats, but at what cost? Will he end up missing ten games again this season, and beyond?

 

Specific advice for poolies who own either player

If, as expected, Boychuk’s production falls this season, he could actually go back to being underrated for 2016-17 if poolies label him a fluke. And although Ryan Pulock is on the cusp of getting more regular playing time, it’s also the very likely that Marek Zidlicky – who’s currently receiving the most PP Ice Time among Islander blueliners – won’t return. And with Boychuk’s ability on the PP and his big contract, by next season he could step back into a situation very similar to 2014-15. If you’re in a keeper and looking to compete in the next year or two, Boychuk might make an interesting buy low as this season goes on. And those in one year leagues should keep him in mind come draft time for 2016, as he’ll likely slide lower than deserved due to not being able to deliver on hype that accompanied him into 2015-16.

 

Seabrook is a definite must hold in keepers, as he’s a rare player than can be counted upon year after year and he doesn’t have enough name value to get you a proper return in trade. The only caveat is if you really need his multi-cat production, since as we saw that does appear to be waning. Of course if you get an insanely great offer for Seabrook now, as he’s piling up points while Keith is hurt, then you might want to consider it despite all of Seabrook’s benefits.

 

 

 

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