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Mid-Season Report Cards: Defense and Goalies

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The S7S staff turn in their grades for the defensemen and the goalies

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Ottawa Senators
“Hey you, why are you standing?!”
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Part two of our Mid-Season Report Card series shines the spotlight on the defensemen and the goalies. You can read part 1, featuring all of the grades for the forwards, here.

Mark Borowiecki

Stats: 12 GP, 2G-1A-3PTS, 51.16 CF%, 56.52 xGF%

Colin: His ability to guard the blue line has been missed, although I’m not excited for the return of his extra penalty minutes. Borowiecki genuinely looked like he’d turned a corner this season.

Beata: I never thought I’d miss him, and yet his improved play, combined with the terrible season nearly everyone else is having, has me yearning for the days when he was our biggest problem on defense.

Staff Grade: B

Cody Ceci

Stats: 42GP, 5G-4A-9PTS, 43.81 CF%, 42.72 xGF%

Spencer: Ceci is a bad defender who gets an absurd amount of minutes. I think if he was playing a third pairing role, sheltered with a decent partner, he might be ok. But he’s been bad AND he’s been in the spotlight. Hard to grade him any higher.

Ross: It’s not his fault that he keeps being put in situations where he’s in over his head. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem good at much of anything, and that’s on him.

Staff Grade: D-

Thomas Chabot

Stats: 23GP, 3G-6A-9PTS, 51.60 CF%, 47.99 xGF%

Trevor: Chabot has made some really nice plays, and I like that Boucher is starting to trust him a bit more. His underlying numbers leave something to be desired, but I think those should improve as the season goes along.

nkb: Chabot’s shown enough in his time with the Sens that I’m more and more convinced we might have something special on our hands. His confidence with the puck is Karlsson-esque and he’s an underrated 1-on-1 defender. There will be continue to be rough patches in the short term, but his trajectory looks to be sky high.

Staff Grade: B

Fredrik Claesson

Stats: 34GP, 1G-1A-2PTS 47.74 CF%, 49.10 xGF%

Ary: I was firmly on the “Freddie deserves minutes beside Erik Karlsson” train, and maybe we can argue about whether he’s really gotten that opportunity, he may also have played himself out of a job. In the off-season it was discussed that Claesson was trying to play more defensively this year, and that seems to have severely limited his solid offensive instincts and ability to transition the puck — normally two of his best skills.

nkb: He’s still one of their best six defenders, but it sure does seem like he’s been asked to play a more physical, simpler game and the net effect hasn’t been positive. Claesson was a real difference maker down the stretch last season, he hasn’t been that this season.

Staff Grade: C+

Ben Harpur

Stats: 20GP, 0G-1A-1PTS, 45.13 CF%, 37.86 xGF%

Colin: I started to feel more optimistic about Harpur after he had his good stretch last season. This season he’s been playing more games in the NHL than in the AHL, and I’m not sure he’s earned it. Most nights he’s completely invisible, and others he’s a defensive liability. He has the height, but he isn’t using it effectively.

Beata: Meh. He’s been okay, but I don’t see why he keeps getting put in the lineup when there are better options.

Staff Grade: D+

Erik Karlsson

Stats: 37GP, 3G-27A-30PTS, 53.75 CF%, 50.11 xGF%

Spencer: I wish I could give Karlsson a higher grade, I really do. But while he’s looked more himself as of late, he definitely didn’t look like the dynamic, game-changer we know him to be game-in, game-out during “the slump” when a team like Ottawa needed their captain to carry them most. There are always high expectations for EK, but I think his second half grade will be better.

Ross: The captain is still himself with the puck, but his injury to start the year is clearly still hampering him. We’ve seen glimpses of the old Karlsson (the outdoor game, as an example), but he’s not been as dynamic as we expect. He’s still the best player on this team by a mile.

Staff Grade: B+

Johnny Oduya

Stats: 37GP, 2G-4A-6PTS, 48.85 CF%, 46.84 xGF%

Ary: Like Burrows, but free to acquire, Dorion overestimated what Oduya could bring. He should be moved so that he doesn’t keep taking minutes away from a Chabot/Harpur/Claesson.

Trevor: Oduya is among the many players on this team for whom I cannot fathom their purpose on the team. At this point, I just hope a contender would trade any sort of pick for him.

Staff Grade: D-

Dion Phaneuf

Stats: 40GP, 3G-10A-13PTS, 44.26 CF% 41.68 xGF%

nkb: The scoring numbers aren’t too bad, but the rest is very bad. His partnership with Cody Ceci has been a complete catastrophe; Phaneuf looks badly over matched against the speed of the NHL in 2018, and Ceci doesn’t have the acumen to cover for him when he can’t keep up.

Ross: His contract is still toxic, but at least he knows what to do with the puck. That puts him a little higher than Ceci in my books.

Staff Grade: C-

Chris Wideman

Stats: 16GP, 3G-5A-8PTS, 51.64 CF%, 55.31 xGF%

Colin: One of Ottawa’s better offensive defencemen, his absence has been notable on the third pair’s right side. I wouldn’t expect his 40-point pace to continue if he ends up returning next season, and with UFA status looming, we might have already seen his last game for Ottawa.

Spencer: Played well before the big injury, despite seemingly falling out of favour with the coaching staff (remember when he played forward?!)

Staff Grade: B+

Craig Anderson

Stats: 12-13-5 .900 all-situations SV%, .904 5v5 SV%, -6.53 GSAA (all situations)

Ary: Pierre, you maaaaaaaybe could’ve waited to see how this season went before re-upping this guy. I, like everyone else, didn’t expect Andy to drop off so soon, but it doesn’t look good.

Trevor: I don’t know if he’s done as a starter at this point in his career, but you have to wonder. I’m not very confident with him being the starter going into next season if Ottawa wants to win.

Staff Grade: F

Mike Condon

Stats: 3-5-4, .894 all-situations SV%, .917 5v5 SV%, -3.29 GSAA (all situations)

Beata: I didn’t think Condon was a starting goaltender, but I certainly expected better than this.

Colin: The backup hasn’t been much better, but at least he’s closer to league average at 5v5. His PK Sv% is what’s really sinking him.

Staff Grade: D-

N.B: the GSAA stat for goalies stands for Goals Saved Above Average. The measure is calculated by comparing a goalie’s actual save percentage to what we would expect from a league average goalie based on the quality and the quantity of the shots faced. A positive number here is good, meaning the goalie outperformed based on the shots they faced, a negative number is bad. GSAA is courtesy of corsica.hockey.

That does it for the defensemen and the goalies. Let us know how you’d grade them in the comments and tune in for part 3 tommorow!