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: Jacob Trouba
Let him rot, eh???
Jacob Trouba had a breakout year offensively, putting up eight goals and twenty-five assists despite only receiving minimal power play deployment. Trouba has always been a strong defensive player but this past season he added even strength point and shot production to the top of his resume.
Goals Above Replacement
Goals Above Replacement data courtesy of @DTMAboutHeart. Reminder that GAR is an aggregate statistic, so it is not relative to games played or ice time.
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.
According to the GAR model, Trouba was one of the strongest players last season. The model places Trouba in the same breath as Oscar Klefbom, Ryan Ellis, Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Victor Hedman, Shea Weber, Marc Edouard Vlasic, and Ryan McDonagh. When Trouba said he wanted to prove himself as a premier top-four right-shot defender, he followed through.
Trouba did not provide the offense of Dustin Byfuglien, but otherwise Trouba was the undisputed top performer for the Jets. Trouba provided about 80 per cent of the even strength offense of Dustin Byfuglien, while providing more defensive value than all the remaining defenders combined. Trouba did not provide much value on the power play, but neither did the entire team, especially on defense.
Trouba had a positive impact on shot differentials, with most of his defensive partners doing relatively better or similar with the 23-year-old than away. The only exception was Byfuglien, who spent very minimal time with Trouba this season, likely related to some of the negotiation issues with Trouba at the start of the season.
Where Trouba really pushed himself this season was in production. This year Trouba placed sixth highest in point production relative to ice time.
Visual is for minutes played in 2015-16 and first half of 2016-17 combined.
It was not surprising for some to see Trouba’s offensive game expand. The right-shot defender has been driving the underlying causes for production for quite some while now. Trouba’s biggest strength is his transition game with gaining the offensive zone with high success. In terms of direct impact, Trouba produces a ton of shot and pass volume.
If we were to point out a weakness, we’d suggest that while Trouba produces a ton in quantity of shots and passes, he could improve upon his quality. Trouba still performs above average in primary shot assists and dangerous shots (per passing data, although same holds true for shot location) but he has room to grow.
Trouba sat near the top of the Jets roster in terms of of defensive zone possessions turning into exits as well as the percentage of exits being with possession of the puck. The combination of those two made Trouba the Jets’ most efficient defender in transitioning the puck out of the defensive zone.
At the other end of the puck, only Byfuglien created more entries, while Trouba had a higher percentage of those entries being carry-ins and the highest for successful passes post carry-in.
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.
Jacob Trouba was not only the best defender on the Jets, but proved himself to be one of the best defenders in the entire NHL.
Of course, this also raises the question of Trouba’s future in Winnipeg. Having Trouba extended to a multi-year deal would do a lot to lend confidence on the Jets’ longterm organizational strength. Losing a number one defender, even with optimal return, will always be a shaky condition for a team.
The good news is that even if the Jets were to sacrifice a lot of Cap Hit, they should be able to handle a lucrative extension for Trouba. A hypothetical eight million dollar per season contract extension for six seasons would have been the same as a eight year, 6.75 million dollar per season contract, when accounting for his current bridge deal.
A long term top pairing of Trouba with Josh Morrissey, and Dustin Byfuglien manning the second pair, would be a tough top-end for any team to overcome.
All numbers courtesy of @NaturalStatTrick, @ShutdownLine, or @DTMAboutHeart unless otherwise noted. Please follow them all.
More Pilot’s Logbook Series
- 2016-2017 Team Review
- (Not So) Special Teams
- Team Development Over Time
- Zone Exits
- Zone Entries
- Chris Thorburn
- Mark Stuart
- Alexander Burmistrov
- Brandon Tanev
- Julian Melchiori
- Kyle Connor
- Shawn Matthias
- Drew Stafford
- Ben Chiarot
- Nic Petan
- Tyler Myers
- Andrew Copp
- Paul Postma
- Marko Dano
- Toby Enstrom
- Adam Lowry
- Joel Armia
- Dustin Byfuglien
- Bryan Little
- Josh Morrissey
- Patrik Laine
- Nikolaj Ehlers
- Mathieu Perreault
- Mark Scheifele