Home > Season Recap > The 2010-2011 Player Review Best Of The Rest: Defense

The 2010-2011 Player Review Best Of The Rest: Defense

Fraser took a step back this season, recording negative numbers in every important defensive category. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will break down the 2010-2011 Devils season. Many of those breakdowns revolved around individual player performances. We broke down all players who skated in at least 40 games, because they contributed to over half the games (and outcomes) this season. In the next few days, we’ll look at “The Best of the Rest,” breaking down other players who skated in less than 40 games. Today, we’ll look at the remaining defensive players.

Of all the positions to suffer from injuries, the New Jersey Devils’ blueline was among the most volatile. They lost stalwart Bryce Salvador before the season even started, a major blow to the defensive corps. Injuries to promising rookie Matt Taormina left another hole needing to be filled. Anton Volchenkov and Colin White both missed stretches of games as well.

As a result, seven defenseman filled in, playing at least four games. Below is a list of those players and their performance this season. Some were good, others were just ok, and a few shouldn’t be back next season. We’ll take a look at them, in order of games played. And here we go:

Mark Fraser – 26 GP, 2 Points (2 A)

Fraser entered this season with a new contract (two-year, $1.085 million) and heightened expectations. He played well during the 2009-10 season, skating in 61 games and recording six points. The 2010-11 regular season would represent a major step backward. Fraser broke his hand on October 13, causing him to miss 32 games. He couldn’t consistently crack the lineup, playing in just 12 straight games.

A look at his numbers shows his general ineffectiveness. Fraser only averaged 13:58 minutes a game, managing to pull down a plus-0.18 rating. Despite a low goals-against per 60 rate (1.65 at even strength), his other numbers weren’t strong. His on-ice Corsi rating (minus-2.03) ranked far below his off-ice rating (plus-2.02). Opponents shots against fell from 26.8 with him on the ice to 24.8 with him off.

Despite it all, he still recorded a plus-1.0 GVT. I’m willing to give him a pass for this season. Both injuries and the inability to play consistently showed on the ice. He’ll battle for a spot next season, but could be pushed out with the strong play of Mark Fayne and the return of Salvador.

Matt Corrente – 22 GP, 6 P (6 A)

Like Fraser, Corrente entered the season with heightened expectations. The Devils’ first round pick (30th overall) in 2006 had yet to make his mark and earn a consistent roster spot. Training camp would be his opportunity to finally earn that spot.

Corrente performed worse than Fraser in his limited role this season. He missed 38 games with a shoulder injury, managing just an average time on ice of 13:35. He managed a plus-0.32 rating, higher than Fraser. The goals against numbers didn’t reflect well, with the team allowing more goals against with him on the ice (3.32) than him off (3.03). Shots against followed the same trend. Opponents averaged 29.3 shots per 60 with Corrente on the ice. Off the ice, that number fell to 23.3. The Corsi rating is just as bad. On the ice, the number sat at minus-0.83. Off the ice, the team improved to plus-9.63.

Despite all of that, Corrente recorded a plus-1.3 GVT. His six assists probably helped that cause, and he showed a surprising willingness to contribute offensively. He’s flashed his potential, but time might be running short. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, and the organization will probably re-sign him. He’ll find it hard to crack the lineup, especially with some rookies outplaying him over the course of the season.

Olivier Magnan – 18 GP, 0 Points

After Taormina injured his ankle, Magnan got the first crack at becoming a regular defenseman. He managed to play 14 straight games, but couldn’t stick in the lineup. He averaged 15:42 of ice time, surpassing both Fraser and Corrente. His plus-0.7 rating, however, fell below those two. His defensive numbers were unspectacular.

Magnan’s numbers mirrored those of Corrente. On the ice, the team allowed 2.02 goals against per 60. Off the ice, that number climbed to 3.03. He helped eliminate defensive chances, holding opponents to just 24.9 shots against per 60. The Corsi rating, however, shows those numbers are a bit inflated. His on-ice rating of plus-5.29 far outranked both Fraser and Corrente. But off the ice, the Corsi improved to plus-7.43. That’s more than two points, meaning the team did improve with him off the ice.

In the end, Magnan actually provided the Devils with negative value. His minus-0.1 GVT ranked below several defenseman despite his seemingly positive numbers. Magnan was never really terrible, but he wasn’t great either. He’s an unrestricted free agent this season, and we’ll see if the Devils bring him back. If they do, I’d expect him to be an outside contender for a roster spot.

Taormina started off hot, but an ankle injury derailed his promising rookie campaign. Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Matt Taormina – 17 GP, 5 Points (3 G, 2 A)

This season seemed to be the coming out party for Taormina. He provided offense along the blueline and, while making some rookie mistakes, seemed to improve every game defensively. Unfortunately, his season would come to an abrupt end when he suffered a high ankle sprain. That led to surgery, ending a promising season.

Taormina logged heavy minutes this season, averaging 20:40 and 23.2 shifts per game. Former head coach John MacLean expected the rookie to produce, and he provided an average of 0.63 points per 60. His ranking of plus-1.07 placed him in the top five of all skaters this season. He made a difference everywhere but goal production. He limited teams defensively (2.11 goals against per 60 on-ice, 3.45 goals against off) and influenced the amount of shots faced (22.4 shots against per 60 on-ice, 23.8 shots against off). Even the Corsi rated him well, giving him a plus-5.07 rating on ice, a number that fell to plus-2.99 with him off.

Despite those positive numbers, the goals didn’t follow. New Jersey averaged just 1.69 goals for per 60 with Taormina on the ice. Off the ice, the number rose to 1.95. It’s not a huge jump, and his low number could be attributed to bad luck and the team’s inability to score during the first three months of the season. Behind the Net’s GVT rating pegged Taormina at a plus-1.6, a solid rating for the rookie.

Even with Fayne’s improved play and Salvador’s possible return, all signs point to Taromina fighting for a roster spot next season. The organization liked his production, especially early in the season. With no real “offensive defenseman” on the roster, Taormina could get the chance to seize that role. He’s a restricted free agent, but expect him to push for a spot next season.

Alexander Urbom – 8 GP, 1 Point (1 G)

In his first full season in the Devils’ organization, Urbom found a way to get a few cups of coffee in the NHL. Mostly recalled for injuries, the rookie showed flashes of the player he may become. The sample size isn’t large by any means, but the team should be happy with the production he provided. Urbom didn’t get much ice time, pulling down 12:34 minutes per game. He still managed 0.63 points per 60 and a plus-0.22 rating.

Urbom’s eight games are a pretty small sample size to work from. The team performed better in almost every category with him off the ice, but his limited ice time influenced those numbers. He managed a minus-0.4 GVT, but that’s contributed to that low ice time. The numbers aren’t indicative of his skill or potential. The organization believes in him, and he’s shown his offensive ability in the WHL last season. Expect him to be one of the leaders for a roster spot next season.

Jay Leach – 7 GP, o Points

The Devils re-acquired Leach from the San Jose Sharks during the trade deadline, bolstering their injured defensive corps. His appearance in seven games weren’t anything spectacular. He literally provided a neutral value in both goals for and goals against per 60. The Corsi numbers were pitiful, with him carrying a minus-10.13 rating. Off the ice, the number dramatically jumped to plus-5.15. He’s limited offensively, which contributes to that number.

Leach is a depth defenseman, and a solid one. Maybe he’ll come back next year, but he won’t be a regular.

Tyler Eckford – 4 GP, 0 Points

Eckford presents an interesting case for the Devils. He’s been expected to become one of the better offensive defenseman in the system, but he’s continually getting passed over when opportunities arise. That happened again this season, as a cavalcade of players earned opportunities before him. Eckford skated in just four games this season, recording no points and making no noteworthy contributions.

Time is running short for the former seventh-round pick. His two season in the AHL have been relatively productive. But the organization hasn’t given him the chance to break through at the NHL level. He’s an unrestricted free agent this season, and may not return to the organization if a better opportunity presents itself.


Ed Note: For coverage of the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg, go to SB Nation New York.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: