The Winnipeg Jets drafted the right-handed shooting, puck-moving Luke Green 79th overall. He is considered a solid offensive defensemen and has produced respectable numbers with 35 points in 61 games.
His production becomes even more interesting, though, when you dissect things further and Green may be even better than what the surface level numbers suggest.
At first it may seem like Green’s product stagnated from the year prior. The defender put up 36 points in 60 games with an exceptional performance, placing second on the team for defensemen in points and third in points per game as a 16-year-old rookie. The next year Green put up scored one point fewer with one more game played, falling to third for points on the team.
What this doesn’t show you is that Green actually increased his goals and primary assist per game production. What actually dropped was his secondary assist production.
Secondary assist production tends to be highly influenced by natural variance, and can swing wildly from one year to the next. In other words, they are a lot more prone to “luck”. For this reason, my SEAL-Adjusted Scoring model reduces the impact in secondary assists.
On average, one would expect a player to have a near 1:1 ratio in primary and secondary assists. Green had 19 primary assists, but only 6 secondary assists this past season. If we take his 10 goals and 19 assists at face value being indicative of his offensive talent, then Green is more likely to be a “true talent” 48 point scorer than a 35 point scorer.
Green’s 29 points ranked second on his team in defensive scoring.
This is why Green actually was the 14th highest SEAL-Adjusted Scoring defenseman in North America (for first time draft eligible skaters). He was 8th when looking at those 6 feet or taller, right after Jakob Chychrun and Olli Juolevi while also before Lucas Johansen and Cole Candella (and far before Kale Clague, Dennis Cholowski, and Logan Stanley).
But that’s not all.
How a defender is used can have a large impact in their scoring, especially with even strength and power play ice time allocation.
The Saint John Sea Dogs had one of the most impressive defensive groups in the QMJHL, with a top four of Thomas Chabot, Matt Murphy, Jakub Zboril, and Luke Green. The team ran Chabot and Murphy on their top pair and top power play unit, while Zboril and Green sat on the second pair and power play unit.
At even strength, Green was actually the top defensive scorer for the Sea Dogs with 22 primary even strength points, with Murphy, Chabot, and Zboril scoring 19, 15, and 5 points.
Murphy and Chabot were able to enjoy the top power play unit usage, scoring 18 and 17 points each. Zboril and Green though were given about half the ice time and so they only scored about half the points, with putting up 10 and 9 points each.
More often than not, depth is not a major issue for statistical prospect evaluations, because the best deserve and earn the most minutes. However, Saint John was slightly different, carrying Zboril and Green on their second pairing when they would be first pairing on most QMJHL teams.
When we combine the potential impacts of ice time usage and secondary assist variance, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Green may have been a 50-60 point scorer despite only putting up 35 points last season.
Next year we should expect Murphy to leave the Sea Dogs, so there is a large chance Green will be playing with Chabot on the top pair. It will be interesting to see how this has an impact on Green’s scoring.