Jake Gardiner Makes His Teammates Much Better

Updated: September 20, 2016 at 9:12 am by DragLikePull

As everybody knows, September is Jake Gardiner Appreciation Month.  I kicked off JGAM by writing about how, contrary to popular opinion, Gardiner is actually very good defensively.  As I discussed in that piece, Jake has had pretty big, positive defensive impacts over the past few seasons, comparable to some of the better defencemen around the league.  This time around I’m going to talk about another area where Gardiner’s impacts are impressive: how he lifts his teammates.


One of the most impressive things about Jake Gardiner is how virtually every player who spends time with him sees their results improve.  I’ve gathered a list of all the players who have played at least 200 minutes at even strength with Jake over the past three seasons.  I calculated what you could call their “Jake Rel”, which is the difference between their Corsi when they play with Gardiner vs when they’re playing but Jake’s on the bench.  For players who at least one of the last three seasons with the Leafs and at least one with another team, I’ve included only the seasons where they played for the Leafs in their “Without” statistics.  Unfortunately, since Hockey Analysis only does splits by seasons, not by team, for years in which a player was traded mid-season (like Roman Polak this year), I’ve had to include all data for that season (ie. Polak’s “without” numbers include his time in San Jose).

Let’s start by looking at Leafs defencemen.  I’ve coloured players who were at least 1% better with Jake in green, while players who were at least 1% worse in red.  (All data in this post comes from the very useful Hockey Analysis.)

Player CF% W/ CF% W/out Jake Rel
Phaneuf 51.0 43.8 7.2
Franson 49.0 46.5 2.5
Rielly 53.7 46.6 7.1
Polak 46.5 48.0 -1.5
Ranger 44.1 41.6 2.5
Holzer 45.5 41.8 3.7

The results are pretty stark.  Of the six defencemen who have played at least 200 minutes with Gardiner over the past three seasons, five of them have seen significant jumps of at least 2.5% in their shot attempt ratio when playing with Gardiner.


Now let’s take a look at forwards using the same criteria.

Player CF% W/ CF% W/out Jake Rel
Kadri 51.6 47.9 3.7
JVR 49.9 44.4 5.5
Bozak 50.4 44.4 6.0
Kessel 48.5 43.4 5.1
Lupul 46.1 42.8 3.3
Holland 49.5 45.0 4.5
Clarkson 48.7 41.5 7.2
Komarov 55.6 48.3 7.3
Raymond 49.3 41.2 8.1
Winnik 50.7 50.5 0.2
Parenteau 52.6 53.9 -1.3
Smith 47.2 42.3 4.9
McClement 44.7 35.7 9.0
Panik 53.6 44.6 9.0
Kulemin 45.0 39.9 5.1
Santorelli 47.3 47.6 -0.3
Booth 54.2 43.5 10.7
Grabner 55.4 47.7 7.7
Matthias 48.3 48.0 0.3

This is where Jake’s impact becomes really clear.  Of the 19 forwards who have played at least 200 minutes with Gardiner over the past three seasons, only one had a Corsi that was worse by over 1% when playing with Gardiner.

Not only are almost all of these players better when playing with Jake, but most of them are much better.  Seven of these players are at least seven percent better, which is an exceptionally large jump, while a few more are at least five percent better.

In my last post on Gardiner I looked at his CA/60 Rel to show how good he is at reducing shot attempts relative to his team-mates.  And while those overall numbers give us a nice snapshot, I think breaking down the impact on a player-by-player basis like this helps make it clear just how big and consistent Gardiner’s impact is. 

Virtually every player who’s spent any significant stretch of ice time paired with Gardiner over the past few seasons has seen their on-ice results improve considerably.  Jake Gardiner makes the players around him better.