Wild West: 6 Surging Defensemen

by chriskane on October 21, 2019

 

Over the past couple of games, I have been seeing a few defensemen popping up quite a few times in the box scores. I’ll be honest one was Oscar Klefbom and I had to check and see if it was an illusion. That led to looking at the top-scoring D in the west – and well here they are.

 

Name

Pos

Team

GP

G

A

PTS

PPP

Hit

TOI

SOG

PTS/G

 

 RYAN ELLIS

D

NSH

8

1

10

11

2

5

23:04

20

1.38

OSCAR KLEFBOM

D

EDM

9

1

8

9

4

11

24:56

21

1.00

 BRENT BURNS

D

S.J

8

2

6

8

3

13

26:37

27

1.00

 ROMAN JOSI

D

NSH

8

3

4

7

3

4

24:46

27

0.88

CALE MAKAR

D

COL

8

0

7

7

4

7

18:39

7

0.88

DARNELL NURSE

D

EDM

9

1

6

7

1

24

23:52

15

0.78

 

Ryan Ellis: Not owning Ellis in any leagues I was a bit surprised that he leads the West in points from a D man. It is safe to assume that a 113-point season from Ellis is not going to happen. His highest previous pace is 60 points, which is excellent, and not one I had anticipated seeing coming into 2019-20.

 

At first glance, all seems mostly normal. His power-play time has not increased, his total time on ice hasn’t either, his shooting percentage is right around his career average (low if anything). He doesn’t have an extraordinary number of points on the power play either.

 

Everything else is off the charts though. His IPP is high (meaning he is getting in on more points than usual) and his team five-on-five shooting is through the roof at 16.67%. 8.5-9% is normal. That means that Nashville is scoring almost double the goals they should while Ellis is on the ice and that Ellis is getting a point on those goals at a higher rate than he should. Both should drop, which will bring him sharply back to earth. Without changes to deployment, a 45-point pace is a reasonable expectation going forward. 

 

Oscar Klefbom: As a manager who has owned Klefbom for the past several years waiting for a breakout, but doesn’t own him this season, Klefbom’s start to the season is quite frustrating. For those who took a flyer though, his nine points over nine games are certainly rewarding.

 

Again, we are not exactly expecting a point per game pace going forward, but there are some strong signs here. Klefbom has added about a minute on the power play on average over last season and seeing an increased share of his team’s total power-play time. This has resulted in four power-play points, and while we won’t see him putting up power-play points at that rate the entire season, those indications are certainly positive.

 

We can also see that Klefbom’s personal shooting percentage and his IPP are high. They are far less dramatic than Ellis’ and his IPP is perfectly reasonable for a legitimate PP1 quarterback. If that is what Klefbom has finally turned into then some of these points may keep coming. His previous career-high is a 38-point pace, but with an increased role he could top 45 for the first time.

 

Cale Makar: The hype train was in full effect going into 2019-20. Makar was on so many sleeper lists he was definitely not a sleeper come draft day. His price was likely quite inflated, but thus far he has delivered. Seven points in eight games with four coming on the power play.

 

Let’s start with the positive: those power-play points. He has four in eight games playing on the top unit with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen (Nazem Kadri is there too, but the three big guns are the most important). He is getting 67% of the team’s power-play time, which has him up over four minutes a night on average. This is the dream deployment folks were hoping for in the offseason. If he keeps it, 25-30 power-play points might be within reach.

 

Therein lies the problem though. That would amount to a power-play point every third game or so and currently he has four in eight (so a drop in power-play point pace is coming). His total ice-time is low for a defenseman, at just over 18 minutes a game, and his team five-on-five shooting percentage is quite high at over 12% (so a drop is likely there too). He also isn’t likely to go on a goal-scoring spree – putting only seven shots on net in his eight games. His early career numbers are reminiscent of Will Butcher or a younger Charlie McAvoy. He seems in line for more of a 35-40 point season with low peripheral coverage than the 72 point pace he is currently on.

 

Wild West Weekly Streamers:

 

Jakob Silfverberg: As someone who has gotten burned in the past by Silfverberg, I make this recondition hesitantly. He has a solid schedule and his line with Adam Henrique, and Rickard Rakell has been great. Let’s be clear, it likely (particularly for Silfverberg) is unsustainable, but at least if the points dry up he is still likely to help a bit with his shots.

 

Tyler Toffoli: See disclaimer above. He has been shooting, and his power play has been getting a significant share of the work, even if Anze Kopitar is not on it. Like with Silfverberg it all leads to optimism for points, but even without he is putting up shots.

 

Last Week’s Streamers

Mats Zuccarello: So immediately after I listed him here he got injured. My sincerest apologies for any wasted moves.

 

Paul Stastny: Back in the saddle, Stastny put up a goal and assist, to go along with five shots over his three games last week.

 

Drop or Not?

Ryan O’Reilly’s seven points in eight games are a little misleading. He had a four-point game on October 10th, but no points over his last four games. Overall he has pointed in just three of his eight games. For anyone with weekly matchups, it has certainly been the tail of two weeks. Seven points in the first, and zero in the second.

 

Generally, though there is nothing too alarming going on. He is still seeing around 20 minutes of ice time, and at least 50% of his team’s power-play time. He has been playing with David Perron and Sammy Blais at even strength but has been missing out on the Vladimir Tarasenko unit on the power play.

 

The largest concern so far is his shooting. He took only four shots over his last four games, and has only 11 over his eight-game season. Even with that limited volume, his shooting percentage is still a bit low. Over the last two seasons he has been averaging just under three shots a game, so expect the shots, and the shooting percentage to tick up.

 

All things considered, it is certainly not time to be concerned and one bad week should not prompt any drastic decisions.

 

 

Thanks for reading, see you next week.