Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
One of the biggest tasks for Flyers rookie head coach Dave Hakstol is finding the best way to utilize his defense. He doesn’t have many options as the Flyers currently lack a true top pair defender. That said, he has some options to attempt to get the best results.
Data via Puckalytics
From the chart we can glean a few things:
1: Carlo Coliacovo is really good, and he will be missed.
2: Brandon Manning’s 11 games showed he was a solid shot suppressor.
3: Luke Schenn generates more shot attempts than what he gives up defensively
4: Mark Streit’s age may be catching up with him in the defensive zone
5: Andrew MacDonald’s D-zone play isn’t that bad, but his neutral zone play and offensive zone leave room for improvement
6: Nick Schultz broke even in the D-zone and didn’t make it up on offense
7: The Flyers need defenders who are good at both shot suppression and generation
So here’s how I would balance the defensive pairs
Brandon Manning – Luke Schenn
Manning’s shot suppression and Schenn’s generation, would work well together as a neutral zone pair, they’d handle both generation and suppression decently. If Schenn is traded, substitute Radko Gudas in.
Michael Del Zotto – Yevgeni Medvedev
This would be the offensive pair, deploy them in the offensive zone and let the puck find the back of the net. This would be a high event pair, so lots of goals would be scored on both ends of the ice, but given the Flyers lack a true shut down defender with Coburn traded, Medvedev, who is similar to Coburn, would hopefully balance MDZ’s defensive weaknesses.
Andrew MacDonald-Mark Streit
In limited minutes, Mark Streit would be tasked with carrying MacDonald at 5v5, Streit’s value is on the powerplay, and if MacDonald can break even in his usage, the Flyers might be able to find a way to trade him next offseason.
This leaves Nick Schultz as the seventh defender and assumes the kids all go back to Junior or the AHL.