This is the seventh part of the Habs players analysis series for the season 2017-18. Be sure to check out parts one through six below.
Part 1: Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty
Part 2: Alex Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin
Part 3: Paul Byron and Phillip Danault
Part 4: Andrew Shaw and Nicholas Deslauriers
Part 5: Charles Hudon and Artturi Lekhonen
Part 6: Jacob de la Rose and Byron Froese
For these reviews, only players who played at least half of the season will be covered. I’ll use some traditional statistics but mainly the advanced analytics eSAT metric, especially the eSAT Diff, eSAT FAR and eSAT AAR. If you are still unfamiliar with this advanced statistic, I suggest you read the article introducing the eSAT that will give you a better understanding of the metric.
In brief, eSAT Diff (effectiveness-of-the-Shot-Attempts Differential) shows the level of impact the player had on his team, therefore influencing the impact on the team rankings. It can also be use as a measurement to determine an MVP player.
The eSAT FAR (effectiveness-of-the-Shot-ATtempts-For-Above-Replacement) describes the quality of the offensive supply or the capacity to convert it into successful attack. The league average is at fifty percent, so top should be over percent and top should be over 50 percent.
Finally, the eSAT AAR (effectiveness-of-the-Shot-ATempts-Against-Above-Replacement) shows the quality of opportunities allowed to the opposition. Therefore, an eSAT AAR over the fifty percent mark would suggest a higher ability to shutdown the opponent’s offense.
But there’s more to the eSAT AAR, it will also tend to increase when players are in possession of the puck. On that account, it connects perfectly with the adage ‘the best defense is a good offense.’
Jeff Petry had a tremendous season based on individual performance, collecting 12 goals and achieving career milestones with 30 assists and 42 points. Petry made the most of his opportunity filling in for Shea Weber, with the Canadiens top defenceman out with an foot injury.
Petry manned the top defense pair averaging 23:30 time-on-ice per game (an increase of 1:23 over the previous season.) He was also on the first wave with the man advantage averaging 2:47 of power-play time per game (compared to 1:46 in 2016-17.)
This extra minute of power-play time helped him to collect 23 points with the man advantage this season, representing 54.8 percent of his points. In 2016-17, he had only seven points on the power-play, just 25 percent of his total of 28 points.
Petry’s eSAT FAR of 49.7 percent is almost five percent lower than the previous season, despite a career high in points. This could be explained by few factors: the higher league average in offensive production, the lower offensive help provided by Petry’s teammates and, most importantly, his higher ice-time per game.
There are only 35 defensemen in the NHL who played with an average ice-time over 23 minutes per game. Petry was ranked 25th in that select group led by players like John Carlsson, Victor Hedman and Dustin Byfuglien.
This is good company for a player who was not supposed to play as much as he did. However, at five-on-five, Petry was only ranked 55th with an eSAT FAR of 48.8 percent among the defensemen who played more than 17 minutes per game. That said, this is still a ranking worthy of a top two defensemen.
The lack of depth on the left side didn’t just affect Shea Weber, but Jeff Petry as well. Petry played along side Karl Alzner for more than 870 minutes at all strengths. This wasn’t good to say the least, as they couldn’t establish any real chemistry. The analytics back up that observation by showing an eSAT FAR of 41.9 percent and an eSAT AAR of 43.3 percent.
The defensemen who had the second most minutes with Petry was Jordie Benn, playing more than 219 minutes with him, all strengths combined. The analytics showed even worse results with an eSAT FAR of 27.0 percent and an eSAT AAR of 33.4 percent.
Jeff Petry had his best moments with Victor Mete. In fact, it’s my opinion that Petry could have benefited from playing more with the rookie. The pair played a little more than 94 minutes together at five-on-five and maintained an eSAT FAR of 54.7 percent and an eSAT AAR of 74.7 percent.
The positive news for Jeff Petry is that he raised his game in Weber’s absence and delivered an offensive performance worthy of a top pair defender. However, It’s clear that Petry can’t start next season with either Alzner or Benn on his left side.
Victor Mete was the most pleasant surprise of the season. Many were reasonably expecting him to play less than ten games before being sent back to his junior team. Then the popular thought was that Habs management would send Mete to London after the World U20 Championship, but he confounded all forecasts. The Canadiens simply couldn’t afford to send him back to the Knights because he was bringing something positive to a defense that really needed help.
The surprises started in pre-season when Claude Julien paired Mete with Shea Weber. The experiment seemed to work in exhibition games with Mete proving to have puck-moving ability to fill the void on the top-pairing on left side of Weber.
However, the period Mete played with Weber is hard to evaluate for few reasons. It was his first action in the NHL, playing on the top defensive pair for the Canadiens. In addition, Weber was playing with an injury that he suffered in the first game of the season. All this put together didn’t help the pair to produce good numbers with an eSAT FAR of 47.5 percent and an eSAT AAR of 38.1 percent
Still, Mete showed unusual confidence for a young defenseman by transporting the puck end-to-end taking the attack deep in the offensive zone. His confidence had him taking many high-danger shot attempts, about 7.2 percent of all his shot attempts at five-on-five. This placed him 15th in the NHL among the defensemen who played at least half of the season, one place higher than Jeff Petry.
Mete’s confidence went beyond creating his own chances, and with patience he found good passing lanes to help his teammates create dangerous opportunities. Again, he was a leader in the NHL at five-on-five, ranking sixth with 23 percent of shot attempts coming from the high-danger area while he was on the ice.
In fact, Mete’s eSAT analytics at five-on-five were the best among the Canadiens defensemen with an eSAT FAR of 53.9 percent. He was at his best playing alongside David Schlemko, playing more than 230 minutes together at five-on-five. They had an eSAT FAR of 61.1 percent and an impressive shooting percentage of 12.8 percent.
Victor Mete is a young, highly-talented, offensively-minded defensemen who created offense for the Habs in his first NHL season. He will only play a bigger role helping the Montreal Canadiens in the coming years.
Edited by Cate Racher, All Habs Hockey Magazine