The Evolution of Brandon Manning

Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography

Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography

Brandon Manning has certainly had an up and down season to start. The downsides have shown up in visuals of his mistakes. His advance analytics have shown he gives up a lot of high danger chances. His microstats have shown weaknesses in zone exits and transition game.

And yet, he has shown some flashes of competency.

Via HockeyViz

Via HockeyViz

On third and fourth charts, any place where the gray is above the red is good. Manning’s had some small pockets of success this season. Oddly, they did not come with Shayne Gostisbehere.

Via Behind the Net

Via Behind the Net

Manning’s 5v5 Corsi Rel has improved to -2.1 at 5v5, which is up from the -5.32 in Charlie’s piece as of 11/4/15. In all even strength situations, Manning’s Corsi Rel improves to -1.7.

Via Hockey Reference

Via Hockey Reference

For his career, all 561.6 minutes, Manning has been an overall positive possession player. Just because his 262.1 minutes this season have been questionable, it isn’t a full reason to write him off just yet. Manning’s obviously not a top pair defender, nor even a second pair.

Remember, Brandon Manning is making 625K per Cap Friendly. He’s not breaking the bank account. The process that got Brandon Manning to the NHL is a perfectly valid one. He succeeded in the AHL, was rewarded with a one year contract below the AHL bury threshold. This isn’t a case of Andrew MacDonald where a defender with AHL talent was given top pair money.

So, before we send the pitchfork and torch crew after Manning, realize that he’s not really part of the problem. He’s likely to improve a bit, and as a 7th defender, he’s perfect for the role. He’s cheap, not as bad as Grossmann, Schultz or MacDonald and actually has some useful skills that are relevant to hockey.

The evolution of Brandon Manning has taken him potential third pair savior to a number six/number seven defender. There are far bigger problems than Manning, the PP, scoring, the fact that Vinny Lecavalier exists, and Nick Schultz’s inexplicable top pair minutes. Manning has some things to work on, but unlike the others, he’s in no way preventing the team from winning.

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