Chicago Blackhawks: 2014-15 Defensemen Review — Passing

By Melissa Peterson
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Niklas Hjalmarsson

Hjalmarsson played all 105 games for the Blackhawks this past season, being deployed for 36.39 percent of Chicago’s total ice time.

From the above graphic, you can see that Hjalmarsson ranks highest in his Entry Assists, SC SAG/60 and his Composite SG/60 Rank. What these indicate is Hjalmarsson is solid in transitional play (carrying the puck into the offensive zone) and in setting up plays (SC SAG/60 and Composite SG/60 Rank) overall when he finds himself in the position to do so. His higher ranking in SG/60, again, suggests he is a secondary passer overall, but his high SC SAG ranking suggests he assumes he is a solid primary passer setting up plays in the SC area of the ice.

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  • If you compare it to his SCC/60 Rank (Scoring Chance Contribution) and CC/60 Rank to his SAG/SG/SCSAG rankings, you notice a dropoff. The SCC and CC Ranks include individual shot attempts, which skew the scale against players that don’t take many shots themselves. What this tells us is that Hjalmarsson is used to advancing play rather than being the one to make the play himself.

    This can sort of be explained by his deployment and relative shot rates.

    This chart looks at even-strength deployment only, to highlight just how differently Hjalmarsson is used even outside of his typical penalty-kill, shutdown role. Although it doesn’t look like a huge jump from Oduya (below) to Hjalmarsson, or even Keith to Hjalmarsson, consider that Hjalmarsson is ranking in at minus-12 and Oduya at not quite minus-7.

    We can see from this chart just what I mean when I say Hjalmarsson is much more of a suppression defenseman than a offense-generating defenseman. Although he does spike in the L1 area of the chart in terms of shot generation, you can see that he isn’t really driving play from actual shots being made, but rather supporting play through transitional means and setting the plays up to be made.

    Johnny Oduya 

    Oduya played 99 out of 105 games for the Blackhawks this past season, being deployed for 32.37 percent of Chicago’s total ice time.

    Oduya thrived more in the Scoring Chance area than anywhere else on the ice (confirmed by his SCC and SC SAG Ranks compared to the overall CC and SAG ranks).

    This suggests that he handles the puck much more once already in the offensive zone than in transitional play leading to the offensive zone compared to other defensemen, and therefore is better paired with someone who is better at transitional play and may have deficiencies in the SC area so that they can divide areas of the ice they are responsible for.

    Much like Hjalmarsson, Oduya is more responsible for suppression than generation. As you can see from his Differential Against, however, he was much less successful at it this season than Hjalmarsson was.

    Next: Michal Rozsival

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