Home > Season Recap > The 2010-2011 Player Review: Rod Pelley

The 2010-2011 Player Review: Rod Pelley

Pelley played mostly a defensive role this season, but did tie a career high with 10 points. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will break down the 2010-2011 Devils season. We’ll cover the big team stories, but also offer a breakdown of individual player performances. In today’s review, we focus on Rod Pelley.

For the past few years, the New Jersey Devils raved about the abilities of Rod Pelley. Several team officials believed he could become the next John Madden. Last year, after Madden left the team as an unrestricted free agent, he got his first shot at taking the defensive forward role. Jacques Lemaire wouldn’t play him full-time, so we never fully got to see his potential.

With a new coach this season, Pelley got his chance. He didn’t become an elite checking forward, but he made the most of his chance. For most of the season, Pelley anchored the team’s checking line. His numbers weren’t superb, but they weren’t overly terrible. He ended up proving what he was – a defensive forward who could be used on the team’s third line.

Pelley At Even Strength

As a third-liner, Pelley didn’t see much time on the ice. His time on ice per 60 of 10.24 was middle of the road, which is expected. He put up a negative player rating of minus-0.25, which also isn’t terrible considering his line. For someone who isn’t going to generate much offense (just 10 points this season), his rating will take a hit. It also suffered from his quality of teammates, which checked in at minus-0.317. When you’re constantly centering guys like Adam Mair, that’ll help drive down the rating.

As a third-liner, Pelley’s greatest impact should be defensively. A look at his numbers shows he had an almost neutral (and slightly negative) impact this season. When on the ice, teams scored 23 goals against, an average of 1.82 goals against per 60. He only generated 1.11 goals per 60, leading to a plus/minus on the ice of minus-0.71. It’s not a good number, because you never want any player with a negative plus/minus. Off the ice, however, the numbers increased. Teams averaged 2.51 goals against per 60, but also scored more (2.05 goals for per 60). That drove the plus/minus with Pelley off the ice down to minus-0.46, which seems like an improvement. But Pelley and his linemates aren’t goal scorers, which will obviously put him at a disadvantage in his on-ice plus/minus rating.

The shots against numbers paint a slightly negative picture. With Pelley on the ice, he held teams to 25.4 shots against per 60. With him off the ice, that number dipped to 23.5. That’s almost two full shots less. It’s not a huge number, but it shows he wasn’t the best defensive option on the team’s bench.

The Corsi numbers wraps up this section nicely. Pelley’s on-ice Corsi was a minus-7.92, one of the worst among forwards with at least 50 games played. Off the ice, that number improved to plus-7.06, almost a 180 degree turnaround.

Pelley On The Penalty Kill

Pelley’s numbers on the penalty-kill paint a similar picture to his five-on-five numbers. His time on ice of 1.38 put him within the top nine of the Devils penalty killers, putting him in the regular rotation. Like his even strength rating, Pelley turned in a negative rating of minus-1.36. It was one of the worst ratings among regular penalty killers, but a deeper look at the numbers could expose some flaws.

Penalty killing, of course, isn’t a one man show. Teammates sway the numbers heavily, and Pelley’s teammates didn’t help him one bit. His quality of teammates was minus-0.764, which ranked dead last. Teams scored 10 powerplay goals against Pelley last year, an average of 5.86 goals per 60. That gave Pelley an ugly plus/minus average of minus-5.86. The number improved with him off the ice, dipping to 4.93 goals against per 60 and a plus/minus rating of minus-4.50.These numbers make sense, as better combinations produced better results on the ice.

Pelley has yet to fulfill the expectations of becoming the next John Madden. Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

The shots against loudly support Pelley’s ineffective penalty kill numbers. He allowed 47.5 shots against per 60 minutes in man-down situations. Off the ice, that number dropped to 34.1, an astounding 13 shot difference. Once again, this could speak to the quality of teammates, but that discrepancy speaks to his play as well. His penalty killing clearly needs to improve, and hopefully those around him will improve as well.

Conclusion

Once again, Pelley had the opportunity to fulfill the potential heaped upon him by the organization. And, during even-strength play, he wasn’t terrible. He wasn’t great, but look at his linemates. Pelley didn’t have a Jay Pandolfo on his line to help shut down opponents. Instead, he played with Mair and others. Those aren’t the same type of player, and it hurt him on the ice. Also, the first three-plus months plays into the numbers, bringing down his numbers.

Pelley needs to share some responsibility for his numbers. Did he completely fulfill his potential? Clearly, he didn’t. Defensive forwards don’t collect a negative plus/minus rating. They don’t allow more goals against than goals for. They crack down defensively, and he didn’t do it. Those facts are plain and simple.

I wouldn’t fail Pelley as a defensive forward. Overall, he did a decent job in the role. It was his first full season playing under these expectations. We can’t bring the axe down on him after just one year. He needs another year to prove himself under a consistent system with better linemates.

He may never become Madden, but Pelley was serviceable this season. It will be a few more years until we can make a determination on him as an elite shutdown forward.

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