It’s been just over 300 days since Kevin Cheveldayoff sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world as the Winnipeg Jets swapped Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, and Jason Kasdorf for the Buffalo Sabres’ Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, and a first round pick (which turned into Jack Roslovic).
The trade was generally considered a great one. The Jets received a piece that could help them in a playoff push for an injured forward that was well on his way out anyways. They also swapped underperforming big-minute, right-shot defenders but garnered the one on a more small-market friendly contract.
There was however some red flags with both players. Neither Tyler Myers nor Drew Stafford excelled in the shot metrics, and there were signs that their production was unsustainable and unlikely to repeat. Some hoped that small sample size or a lack of training camp with the Jets could be a leading factor.
With nearly equal samples both this and last season, let’s look at how the two have progressed.
Myers has already moved into a reduced role. He spent parts of this season as a 3rd pair defender with Ben Chiarot while playing all of last year in the Jets top-four. Due to this, Myers has seen his average ice time drop by just over two minutes a game.
In terms of shot metrics, we see some changes in either direction.
With controlling all shots (goals, saves, misses, and blocks), the Jets were slightly out shot this season while slightly out shooting their opponents last season with Myers on the ice. The difference between the Jets with Myers on the ice versus on the bench has improved — as seen in the relative Corsi numbers. Steve Burtch’s dCorsi looks at performance relative to expectations, where Myers is less in the red than last year.
Fenwick (all shots with the exception of blocks) has been shown to predict goal differentials for defenders with a slightly stronger relationship at full season samples. We again see Myers doing worse in the percentage of control, but this time Myers also does worse with the on-ice versus on-bench numbers.
Myers’ point production per minute has fallen starkly, as we predicted it would. It may be a bit on the low side though, with expecting about a 1.00 point per sixty minutes over the long run.
Myers’ point production and the Jets production in Fenwick events on the power play has dropped, although the Jets have done better in controlling Corisi events on the penalty kill.
Like Myers, Stafford has seen a drop in ice time and point production. The latter being predicted over the summer.
For 5v5 we see that the Jets control of Corsi is essentially unchanged with Stafford on the ice both this and last season. A lack of depth though has hurt the Jets and so we see Stafford’s relative numbers less negative. Stafford also performs better by dCorsi, although still significantly negative.
While Fenwick slightly outperforms Corsi in season-one to season-two goal predictive ability for defenders, WAR-On-Ice’s Scoring Chance tends to outperform for forwards. The Jets control a slightly better percentage this season than last with Stafford on the ice, and the Jets have actually done slightly better with Stafford on the ice than on the bench.
Stafford’s even strength scoring has taken a severe hit, which we expect to likely regress somewhere between the two numbers, likely around 1.7-1.8 points per 60 minutes.
Stafford has scored similarly to last year on the power play, but the Jets have not been creating quite as much with him on the ice. He has also done acceptable on the penalty kill despite not taking any significant minutes last year.
Nearly a year later, and with about equal amount of games both this and last season, we can take a look at how the newer Jets have performed and what we should expect from them in the future.
Myers has struggled to return to his rookie-of-the-year form, and looks as though he will never reach the ceiling many expected of him. By some numbers he has done better but there is no doubt that he remains as simply the Jets third best right-handed defender.
Myers may still be a top-four defender in some facets, but he still lacks in overall impact. The Jets will struggle to contend if Myers is asked to carry the pair or be one of the stars of the Jets defensive core.
Stafford meanwhile has always been a weak defensive player who can still score. This year his scoring numbers have taken a hit, but he is no longer posting the worst two-way numbers on the team. He is still not a player that you want in the top-six optimally, unless you surround him with talent that can carry him — which may be the case with Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele.
Stafford is still a middle-six scorer, although has been struggling to put the puck in the net. He needs to be protected though and surround by talent to carry.
While neither player will carry the team into the promise land, they are still useful support pieces. The issue with the Jets though is that both may be playing in a role above what is optimal and cannot carry their line or pair.