The season has been laid to rest.
Fans have completed their lamenting of the Anaheim Ducks sweeping the Winnipeg Jets. The healing process has begun.
But, before full closure can be completed, an autopsy of the Jets season must be initiated.
We turn our evidence-based breakdown of the Jets possibly second best left handed defenseman, Grant Clitsome.
Numbers include all situations including non 5v5 TOI.
Grant Clitsome carried the lowest scoring numbers of his career. This was in part due to the lowest shooting percentage of his career, but also due to a loss of games, even strength ice time, and power play time relative to what Clitsome normally carries.
Graph courtesy of WAR-on-Ice.
Rankings are out of the Jets 11 defenders with 50+ 5v5 minutes, except special team minutes are 4 players for power play and 7 players for penalty kill.
Clitsome played most of his games during the start of the season, where the Jets were struggling to control the play. Because of this we see a dichotomy in his zone deployment versus his deployment relative to the team.
Clitsome did not play much on special teams, which was unfortunate for the Jets. Historically Clitsome has garnered the Jets best PK results. He is not that bad of a power play option either, although Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfulgien, Mathieu Perreault, and Paul Postma are legitimately better options.
Clitsome played third pairing minutes and he dominated them relative to what third pairing defensemen normally do.
Visual courtesy of Micah McCurdy.
Clitsome started the season with Paul Postma, where the two were able to control the play but suffered from unfortunate on-ice percentages. These normalized by Clitsome’s next two partners, when Clitsome played with Zach Bogosian and Adam Pardy.
Clitsome is a fairly underrated player. On twitter I mentioned that Clitsome could very well be the Jets best non-Enstrom left handed defenseman. Ben Chiarot has also performed well in shot metrics, but Clitsome has a history of performing well outside of his ice time with Dustin Byfuglien, unlike Chiarot. Clitsome also has been a dominant penalty killer.
Over the past 4 seasons combined, Clitsome has scored at a top pair rate, but this season Clitsome scored more like a third pair defenseman.
Clitsome had some of the Jets best results in terms of shot attempt differentials, and dCorsi shows how he out performed his usage so it wasn’t just him relying on soft, protected minutes to perform well. Fenwick suggests that blocked shots are slightly inflating Clitsome’s impact but he still performed exceptionally well.
Overall goals above replacement suggests that Clitsome was a positive impact on the Jets goal differential, although was reduced from a poor shooting season and an inability to draw penalties effectively.
Everyone knows that the Jets have a really strong right side of their defense.
Dustin Byfuglien has been a consistent #1 performing defender. Jacob Trouba showed last season that he may already be as good as Byfuglien, with the possibility of being better. Tyler Myers may be overrated but still is a solid option. While Paul Postma is only the Jets 4th best right handed defender, he is better than most teams’ third best, and even some teams’ second best.
The issue has always been the left side for Winnipeg. Tobias Enstrom has not been as dominant as Byfuglien and does not have the upside like Trouba, but he’s still a bonafide, above average, top-four defender. After Enstrom the level of talent does fall.
However, a team running Enstrom, Clitsome, and Chiarot would at the very least be average among the league in depth.
The largest issue would of course be the concerns over Clitsome’s health. With two back injuries requiring surgery in two seasons, it is highly possible Clitsome could not return or be as effective even if he does.