The Winnipeg Jets’ 2016-2017 disappointing season finally ended. While the extent of disappointment may be subjective from individual-to-individual dependent on expectations, fans without a single franchise playoff win prefer their seasons to carry some post-season excitement.
So, what went wrong? What went well? How do the Jets measure up against their competition? Which areas actually require improvement relative to others?
If your car breaks down, you need to know what is wrong with it prior to dropping cash to fix it. With that in mind, we continue our in-depth investigation on the Jets’ performance breaking down the team player-by-player from worst-to-best according to statistical impact, with some adjustments made by my own, personal analysis.
Up next: Tyler Myers.
Tyler Myers played well, but it was eleven games. In eleven games, any player can have a good or bad fortune heavily impact perception of performance. This is not to say that I view Myers as a bad player, undeserving of good results; Myers is a decent second pairing defender on a good portion of NHL teams.
It’s simply that in small samples it is more likely that shooting percentage variation impacts points and goal differentials, which both have a very large impact even on the expert eye-test. This is what happened a bit with Myers. Myers’ carried the highest on-ice team shooting and save percentage of his career. From this, the team controlled 69.2 per cent of goals with Myers on the ice despite only controlling 49.2 per cent of unblocked shots.
Historically fans, and even management, will be swayed more by the earlier statistic than the latter, while the latter has greater resemblance of a player’s true impact and, therefore, true talent.
Goals Above Replacement
Goals Above Replacement data courtesy of @DTMAboutHeart.
Goals Above Replacement (GAR) combines multiple statistics in terms of one currency, allowing one to estimate a player’s overall impact. It is imperfect, as it combines many imperfect statistics, but it is also a severely useful tool.
Myers had a low GAR impact, but mostly because he never played due to injury. It becomes difficult to properly evaluate Myers’ true value to the team from such low ice time sample. So, what I did was take the weighted average of the past few seasons for some of the Jets’ quality-but-not-top defenders to give an idea of where he fits:
Myers is what he is. He’s a solid offensive defender who provides offense predominately through producing points. He has some marginal defensive and power play value. He’s been fairly good at drawing penalties, but he struggles at not taking them as well.
Myers started off the season fairly strong… but then was injured. It’s hard to really know for certain how well he would have performed had he played through the full season. Like most players, he probably had ups and downs, but how much this would push his early results would merely be speculation.
Historically speaking, we would expect those shot impacts to regress but the high-end point production pace to predominately maintain.
Visual is for minutes played in 2015-16 and 2016-17 combined.
Microstatistics provide a window into the actions that players take that create the results they do in the previous sections. They allow us to see why Myers performs in the manner he does.
Myers has always been an effective offensive defender. He produces shots and passes at a high level in the offensive zone. He isn’t as strong at transitional play and building up play as he is in producing scoring chances or primary-shot passes.
In zone exits, he had a fairly average-to-low percentage of defensive zone touches leading to successful zone exits, but a high percentage of these were with possession. He also carried a high level of failed exit attempts.
Myers’ zone entries were a far smaller sample size. In the small sample, he had a high percentage being carries, and a high percentage of these carries having a successful pass afterward. Despite that, the Jets produced very few shots from these entries and carries.
In zone entry defense, Myers was decent in allowing carry-ins against and preventing successful passes from carry-ins, but also rarely broke up plays while defending the blue line.
Please support Corey Sznajder (@ShutDownLine) for his contributions in manually tracking microstatistics. He has a Patreon page where you can make a donation for his tireless work supporting the community. Also, give Ryan Stimson (@RK_Stimp) a follow.
Myers is a highly effective scoring defender. He has the ability to put up points at even strength and do so consistently. He does this through creating dangerous shots for himself and his linemates. That’s what Myers can do and he does it well.
Outside of that, though, Myers’ effectiveness predominately ends. He ranges from slightly-below-average to poor in most other areas of the game. His long reach helps make up for defensive errors but he still far the best defender in his own zone. He can move the puck well when he does, but often makes mental errors causing turnovers.
Myers is what he is. He is a solid performer that can add scoring to a second pair or drive a third pair. On the Jets, he would best being served as the latter option. The Jets have four better defenders than Myers with Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey, Toby Enstrom, and Dustin Byfuglien. While the talent and impact gap between Enstrom and Myers is very small (especially after Toby’s age regression last season), Enstrom being a natural lefty and being strong enough defensively to make up for Byfuglien’s weakness causes him to have far superior value on the Jets.
At 5.5 million dollar cap hit, one might suggest he is too costly to put on the third pairing, but his actual salary only comes in at 3.5 million dollars next season, and falls to 3.0 million dollars the following year (that’s Mark Stuart money!). And let’s be honest, the Jets won’t have all four of their top-four defenders being healthy all season.
There is another alternative, but would have been far more likely to if Myers carried a healthy season last year. Myers is superior to Postma, but his market perceived superiority is much greater than his actual superiority. This means trading Myers and replacing with Postma would be an easy way to attack market inefficiencies in order to produce a cheaper defensive group, and gain players and assets, with little drop in performance.
All numbers courtesy of Corsica.hockey, @ShutdownLine, or @DTMAboutHeart unless otherwise noted. Please follow them all.
This series was intended to be a Monday/Wednesday/Friday post, but with unforeseen circumstances, I will be accelerating posts and changing the schedule to be Monday-Friday posts for the duration of the series.