I continue on my quest of looking to shore up the right side of the Oilers defence. It is my personal opinion that the Oilers need two top 4 right shot defencemen. I would like one of those to be an even strength beast; the other could be a good power play option. In my previous editions, I looked at a couple of teams might want to move a defenceman for either cap reasons (Minnesota Wild) or to improve their team in another area (Carolina Hurricanes). In the third edition, I took a look at some under the radar targets. In this edition, I concentrate on a couple of players who could and should be that immediate top 2 pairing defenceman at five on five minutes.
Assets: Can play the game with exceptional poise. Has a great point shot and an ideal frame for an NHL defenseman (6-3, 205 pounds). Oozes all-round ability and can be a big minute-muncher, too.
Flaws: Could stand to become even more assertive physically, especially when it comes to the utilization of his 6-3 frame. Also, he could stand to shoot the puck far more to produce more numbers.
Career Potential: Talented, big-minute defenseman with a little upside.
To start with on Larsson, I need to confess I am a big fan and have been since before he was drafted. I really wanted Tambellini to find away to draft both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson. His development hasn’t been a straight line up. His first season was all in the NHL, but his second and third had him playing in both the NHL and AHL. I had begun to have hope that New Jersey would want to move away from him, often hitting Twitter with “Trade for Adam Larsson type talk.”
It was in the 2014-15 season that Larsson started to be used primarily as a five on five defensive zone player. Paired with Andy Greene, he started logging 61% of his zone starts in the defensive zone (not including neutral zone starts). This season his new coach has even increased his defensive zone starts to 68%, which leads the league for all defenceman in the league with ice time above 300 minutes of five on five time. Larsson also has recently signed a contract extension which was a 6-year, $25 million deal. In my opinion, it is an excellent contract for a minute-munching beast. While Larsson doesn’t get a lot of opportunity in the offensive zone, he isn’t exactly a ticking time bomb either. He managed to garner 18 points with only 11 power play minutes all season.
Assets: Has both offensive ability and physical toughness. Also owns a big point shot. Is capable of logging big (and important) minutes. Can be used in a shutdown role.
Flaws: Will at times take bad penalties, so he could stand to become a bit more disciplined. Must also work on improving his shot accuracy and overall decision-making process.
Career Potential: Excellent shutdown defenseman
Hamonic deserves to be in this write up for a couple of reasons: potential to acquire and a big minute player at five on five time on ice. There are quite a few write ups on Hamonic being traded to Edmonton or Western Canada that I wont discuss it at length. As a fit for the Oilers, he is a very good fit. He could step in and play on the number one pair instantly. He plays a physical style, as well as being able to get 21 points not on the power play. Hamonic also has a very attractive contract, having 4 more years at just under $4 million per year cap hit. Although Hamonic plays a lot of even strength minutes, his defensive zone starts are almost at exactly 50% this year. That might be due to coaching because the Islanders are a very balanced team when it comes to defensive zone starts.
Adam Larsson and Travis Hamonic are both excellent, first pairing defenders. They are experienced without being old. They are on long-term contracts at very good cap numbers, which is important as the Oilers build around McDavid. I do find it hard to compare defenceman on different teams with just a few metrics. Once again, I will guide you towards Woodguy’s awesome post on right shot defencemen: Woodblog.
When I was digging deeper into the advanced stats, Larsson really stood out to me in a couple of areas, specifically Goals For Relative to his teammates, as well as Defensive Zone Starts. Simply put, Larsson starts the majority of the time in his zone but is outstanding at actually getting the puck in the other team’s end compared to his teammates. His own partner Andy Greene is only at a Goals For Relative of 6 %. Larsson is a an excellent shutdown defender who can be counted on to play against the other players top players.
|Player||5X5 TOI||Goals For % Rel||Corsi Rel||PTs/ 60|
Find a way to acquire either player, Chiarelli. But for me, if we want that true defensive defenceman, go and get Larsson. Who should be traded to get him? Should we be trading back in the draft with New Jersey to acquire him?
Salary information found at Capfriendly
Advanced stats found at stats.hockeyanalysis.com