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 gritanicity-leader, Mark Stuart.
Numbers include all situations including non 5v5 TOI.
Mark Stuart put up 14 points, tying his second highest totals in his career, despite being 31-years-old. This is not due to individual improvement but in actuality due to the team using him more. Stuart played the largest amount of minutes per game of his 10-year career.
Stuart carried the largest negative penalty differential of all the Jets defenders, and was the only one outside of Dustin Byfuglien who was called for 10 or more penalties than they drew. The Jets were actually an elite 5v5 team last season, where their major struggle was in their penalty differential; this will need to change if the Jets want to take another step forward.
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.
Mark Stuart was deployed predominately in defensive situations. He and Jacob Trouba took the bulk of the Jets defensive zone starts for the games they played.
While Stuart played more ice time than ever before, he still generally was the Jets 5th most used defenseman for even strength (two of the defensemen ahead of him never played the same game: Zach Bogosian and Tyler Myers). Usually this was because as the games were close near the end of the third period, Paul Maurice would sit Stuart and Dustin Byfuglien’s defensive partner.
Stuart played a huge chunk of the Jets penalty kill minutes, above 50 per cent. This is unfortunate since Stuart has consistently been below league average and one of the Jets’ worst penalty killers, whether by goals or shots.
From this view, it looks as though Mark Stuart has turned himself into an above average defender… of course their is a factor we have to add in:
Visual courtesy of Micah McCurdy.
As you can see, Stuart rarely played away from Trouba, but for most of the minutes where he did he was severely out shot.
This is similar to the issue we had with Ben Chiarot. How do you evaluate a player who is rarely away from a very good player. Unlike with Byfuglien, Trouba does not have many substantial partners we can compare Stuart against. However, unlike with Chiarot, Stuart has a very long and consistent history of making his defensive partners severely worse (which raises the question: how good is Jacob Trouba?).
Mark Stuart consistently puts up point per minute production around average for a third pairing defenseman. He’s not going to wow you with his point production but he does pot a point here or there.
It’s interesting to see how Stuart falls almost average in every shot metric category. Now look above to Stuart’s ice time with different defenders and realize that Trouba fell in the top 3 for essentially every category.
How bad do you have to be to have average results over the season when over 80% of your time is with a guy who saw the best results?
Well, for context, Stuart and Trouba have played almost 1300 minutes together over the past three seasons, and have posted a 51.5 zone-start adjusted Corsi percentage. In Stuart’s 550 minutes away he has posted a 47.1 Corsi percentage, while Trouba has posted a 52.7 in 600 minutes.
If you look exclusively at this past season, the percentages go 53.9, 47.2, and 56.4 in 700 minutes together and 200 minutes apart. So it looks as though Stuart is still Stuart despite the Jets being a better shot metric team, but Trouba is improving and part of the reason the Jets are becoming an elite shot metric team.
Goals above replacement estimates Stuart to have a stark negative impact on the Jets goal differential, with only Adam Pardy having a larger negative impact of defenders who played exclusively for the Jets.
In terms of on-ice results, Mark Stuart is not a very good defender. It is difficult to argue that Stuart impacts the results in a positive manner more than any of Byfuglien, Trouba, Tobias Enstrom, Tyler Myers, Grant Clitsome, Chiarot, and Paul Postma. He is however claimed to exude many of the characteristics and intangibles the Jets and other organizations covet to have in their leadership group.
This is why I’m fine with Stuart playing in a depth role, much like Chris Thorburn, where their on-ice impact is minimized but their effect on the team still carries potential value. Teams can, and often do, far worse than having Thorburn as a 13th forward or Stuart as a 7th defender.
However, Stuart was paid the 4th most of the Jets, and played around the 5th most.
Just please, no more placing him on the primary penalty kill unit:
Short handed scoring chances against per 60 minutes of all Jets to play at least 50+ games and at least 50 minutes of short handed TOI.