#FreePostma: The Jets third pair just doesn’t cut it without Postma (or Pardy)

The Winnipeg Jets recently paired Jacob Trouba and Dustin Byfuglien together, despite both being right handed shots. The results have been pretty good with the two on the ice. There has been a negative byproduct though.

The Jets have been forced to place Ben Chiarot on his off-handed side with Mark Stuart. And that is a problem.

The Winnipeg Jets third pair has been struggling, a lot. For the 151 minutes the two left handed shots been placed together the Jets have allowed 42 shots directed at their own net more than their own. During these minutes the Jets have only controlled 41.7 per cent of said shots.

If shots are not you’re thing, despite being predictive of future outscoring more than past outscoring, we should note that the pair has also been outscored by a 2:1 ratio.

They have been the worst pair, by far, with percentage of all shots (goal, save, miss, block) being controlled by the Jets (also known as Corsi):

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The numbers are not that surprising. We know that Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien, and Tobias Enstrom are really good. This is why everyone tends to do better with them than away. The Stuart-Chiarot pair has not performed quite as well. There’s also only so much leeway that can be given for Chiarot being on his offhanded side as well.

Of course, as all things, Corsi requires context. How bad is it that the Jets only control 41.7 per cent of shots with the pair on the ice? How bad is that for a third pair?

In 2014 I looked at one should expect with Corsi, essentially giving an idea of what is a “good” and “bad” Corsi for different positions. I placed three different thresholds above to add some context. The top 20% of first pair defenders tend to fall above the red line. The average second pair defender rests around the green line. The worst 20% of third pair and pressbox defenders fall below the purple line. The scale itself essentially covers the entire sustainable range of NHL talent.

What this means is that when the Jets roll out Stuart and Chiarot, they are getting out shot somewhere around what the worst 10% of third pair defenders. With 30 teams in the NHL, on average we expect only 2-4 regular third pairs to be performing worse.

That’s bad.

Very bad.

What’s worse is the Jets have two alternative options, who have fared quite a lot better.

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It doesn’t matter if you use Corsi (all shots), Fenwick (all shots except blocked), or WOI’s scoring chances; all measures show that the Jets perform better with Paul Postma or Adam Pardy on the ice than Chiarot or Stuart.

What’s even more increadible is that Postma has done this playing mostly with the other three defenders (and Grant Clitsome). Over 56 per cent of Stuart’s TOI has been with Jacob Trouba. Over 56 per cent of Chiarot’s TOI has been with Dustin Byfuglien. While not over 50 per cent of his ice time, Pardy’s most common defensive partner has also been Byfuglien, with the second most common being Postma.

Postma’s main partners have been Pardy and Stuart, both playing just over 300 mins with the 26-year-old.

Yes, Postma (and Pardy) has his warts. There are times he will frustrate you, mostly in the defensive zone without the puck. But, he’s a third par defender. Players on the third pair are always imperfect, it’s why they are on the third pair and not the top pair. You will always be able to find areas of the game where one is deficient. However, the overall results have been overwhelmingly positive with him on the ice over the long run.

At 5-on-5 the Jets do better with Postma on the ice than Stuart or Chiarot, no question. There is question on special teams. With lower 5v5 icetime, special teams contributions become important for third pair defenders when ever possible. As an offensively gifted defender, Postma has been one of the best power play defenders in the AHL, and there is strong evidence that Myers should be taken off the power play. Stuart though plays on the penalty kill, but again evidence says he should be taken off as he is arguably one of the worst in the NHL. If penalty kill performance becomes a fear, there is Adam Pardy who has strong 5v5 and penalty kill numbers.

Currently Postma battles in the AHL on a conditioning stint where the defender has three points and thirteen shots on goal while playing for one of the worst AHL teams in both scoring and shot production. Hopefully this conditioning stint is to get him back into game playing shape to bring him in for the team.