A couple months ago, I broke down the reasons why a multi-year extension for Nick Schultz would probably be a bad idea. The main ideas there were that he is an aging player who doesn’t drive possession and is extremely dependent upon his teammates when it comes to shot suppression. Particularly, spending a lot of time alongside Braydon Coburn was essential to Schultz’s ability to suppress shots.
A couple weeks after that, the Flyers (predictably) announced that they had agreed to a two year, 4.5 million dollar extension with Schultz. Braydon Coburn has since been traded, leaving Schultz to spend more time alongside other defensemen (mostly Mark Streit), and leaving some difficult minutes to be taken on by the remaining defensemen.
As of this morning, it has been 10 games since Coburn was traded away. Those 10 games have been, by a lot, the worst stretch of hockey that we’ve seen Nick Schultz play in Philadelphia. Let’s take a look at some charts and then throw up afterwards. (All statistics from War-On-Ice.com)
(EDIT) As Andrew D of BroadStreetHockey points out, it has been longer than 10 games since Schultz was regularly paired with Coburn, and his lengthier decline in Corsi Rel% reflects that.
10 GAME ROLLING CF%
Hmm. It appears that Schultz’s puck possession stats have taken an extreme nosedive since Braydon Coburn was sent away to Tampa. Over the 10 games since Coburn left, the Flyers have taken just 43.8% of the shot attempts with Schultz on the ice. More specifically, let’s take a look at Schultz’s shot suppression numbers. The graph below is sorted by shot attempts against per 60 minutes.
10 GAME ROLLING CA/60
Hmm. It appears as if Schultz has really, really struggled to suppress shots since the beginning of March. Makes you think. Perhaps Schultz’s glaring deficiencies have just been covered up by the play of his main defensive partner for a large portion of the season? Schultz has never been able to defend the blue line well. Being paired with Coburn was a huge part of what helped him to earn that 2 year extension this season, and it is not surprising at all that he is struggling to suppress shots in his absence.
This is still a very small sample, so take it all with a grain of salt. It could easily just be a slump for Schultz. But this kind of thing is exactly why it was not a great idea to extend Nick Schultz so early and for multiple seasons. He has been a putrid puck possession player for most of his career, and I don’t think that he magically got better at age 32. With the Flyers still in a dire cap situation, maybe they could have just waited a bit longer to pull the trigger on this extension? Maybe they could have instead decided to extend Carlo Colaiacovo, who has posted a CF% north of 60 during this same 10 game stretch?
Thanks for reading, guys. If you need me, I’ll be over here sipping on my tea.