(Photo credit: Amy Irvin, 38 Photography)
What’s wrong with Matt Read?
Amazingly, the answer is nothing that he has control over. Despite having some poor raw production numbers (27 point per 82 pace, the lowest of his career), Matt Read is having a strong season.
Let’s delve into this via categories.
Via Behind the Net
Read’s been a positive puck possession member of the Flyers. His entire supposed weakness stems from a 951 PDO. These results wash out the positives in his play. As regression hits, and his totals normalize, he’ll look like the solid player his underlying numbers say he is.
Read’s WOWY chart shows that for the most part, he has a positive effect on players. He notably improves the play of Brandon Manning. In fact, when on the ice with the Gostisbehere-Manning defense pair, the two defenders and Read become a dominant grouping. It is a bit odd that RJ Umberger and Claude Giroux become the same “dull” player when on the ice with Read, despite the fact they are so different in terms of talent. To an extent, it’s a testament to Read’s talent that he can hide Umberger’s weaknesses when on the ice with him, while also proof that Read should not touch the top line with Giroux, except in defensive situations where low-event hockey is needed. Conversely, the “fun” side shows that Read pulls Sam Gagner to the fun level from “bad” which again, is a testament to Read’s ability.
Read’s PDO clocks in at 951. He’s been slammed by .885 goaltending behind him. To put this in perspective, the Flyers goalies perform like ECHL talents behind Read. This is, luckily, fluky and should correct itself over time. The same can be said for his 6.64 On-Ice SH%. Other goalies are basically turning into Vezina winning/generational talents. Opposing goalies have posted .934 SV%’s which essentially is what a Vezina winner would likely post. Given that Read, who’s normally a decent shooter, is seeing results under his talent level, this can expected to also regress.
In the end, Read is a top six forward, best suited to a second line role. He has the talent to carry some of the more one dimensional players to productive abilities in a third line deployment. Getting Read off the fourth line and into a situation where he can carry some of the more one dimensional players in a third line role would likely optimize Read’s talent and balance the forward attack.