The Jets and Trouba reunite soon and everything feels just right.
Everything is as it should be, except with the Jets carrying eight defenders they will need to select two for the pressbox.
It won’t be any of Myers, Dustin Byfuglien, or Toby Enstrom. And with the emergence of Morrissey, it won’t be him either. This leaves three options between Paul Postma, Mark Stuart, and Ben Chiarot.
Who sticks around and who stays? What do the number say?
With all the injuries and Trouba sitting out, the Jets played quite a few games with each of the defenders. Chiarot dressed for 14 games while playing 170 minutes played. Postma also played quite a bit with 12 games and 148 minutes. Stuart, though, has not played as much, likely due in part to injuries, with only five games and 43 minutes.
The results between the three players could not be any different. In terms of strict on-ice results, Postma has unquestionably been the superior player of the three.
Postma has posted a respectable 50.6 adjusted-Corsi%, meaning the Jets have a near 50/50 split in controlling all shots (goals, saves, misses, and blocks) with the right-shot defender on the ice when accounting for both score effects and home-visitor advantage (and scorer bias). Meanwhile, Stuart has a 44.9 Corsi% and Chiarot a 41.0 Corsi%.
The eye-test also smiles kindly on Postma, relatively speaking.
Postma actives in the neutral zone defensively even more than his historical norm. He has been the best of the three in terms of disrupting the oppositions transition. While he still struggles defensively along the boards or boxing out forwards after the opposition shoots, he still is the most effective third-pairing option in moving the puck and has the most offensive upside. He is a flawed defender, but a good choice for the third-pair.
Chiarot meanwhile has been unusually poor even relative to his historical norm. He has struggled with his gaps with the opposition attacking and has had some very standout lost assignments in the defensive zone. While it is true most individuals over emphasize the importance of these two areas in defenders relative to other essential areas, such as break outs, these are supposed to be Chiarot’s strengths.
Stuart’s sample is much smaller, although he’s played so long on the Jets, most everyone knows what he is, by both the numbers and the eye-test.
Of course there are two possible complains on Postma’s numbers, especially with Corsi%.
One possible complaint is that Postma’s poor play in the defensive zone without the puck could mean his impact on shot quantity overvalues his true impact.
However, when we look at all three player’s careers as Jets though we see a pretty consistent pattern:
Relative numbers as a percentage share of all shots with player on ice versus on bench, 2011-present.
Whether you use all shots (Corsi), unblocked shots (Fenwick), shots on goal, scoring chances, expected goal model, or actual goals, every metric paints Postma in a very different fashion than the other two. Chiarot though provides a good example of how a player can have huge variance in actual goal results, due to it’s low tolerance to outliers.
The other possible complaint could be due to handedness. While Postma seems the preferential player in a vacuum, the 27-year-old shoots right, just like Byfuglien, Myers, and Trouba. While the optimal answer would be to return Trouba to his offside with Byfuglien, and give Morrissey a chance to develop in a sheltered third-pair role, that may not be feasible given what was said during Trouba’s now rescinded trade request.
So what if the Jets wish to keep Trouba on his natural side, and then keep their current pairing setup in the top-four?
Well, we can simulate what we would expect each defender’s relative Corsi (as a rate per sixty minutes), using a method created by Dom of Hockey-Graphs, if either were paired with Trouba. From this method we estimate a relative Corsi of -0.57 for the Stuart-Trouba pair, -0.69 for the Chiarot-Trouba pair, and +0.89 for the Postma-Trouba pair.
This is only an estimate given the average performance of each defender the past two seasons and the models ability to predict future performance. It should be noted that Trouba’s time with Stuart and Chiarot over the past two seasons produced a negative relative Corsi, although the magnitude was actually worse.
Jacob Trouba signed the dotted line and Winnipeg Jets’ fans eagerly await his return. Meanwhile, Tyler Myers returned to health and played his first game back already. With Josh Morrissey all but cementing himself as NHL regular, the question comes up on who should remain on when the team is at full health.
If the Jets can only play one of Postma, Stuart, and Chiarot, the choice is clear: Paul Postma.
Numbers courtesy of Corsica.hockey, and are score-and-venue-adjusted at 5v5 unless otherwise stated.