2014-2015 Flyers Evaluations: Defense and Goalies

Last week we gave evaluations to all the Flyer forwards. Now it’s time to examine the defensemen and goalies.

Mark Streit (52 Points, Minus-8)

Streit was one of just two Flyer defensemen to play in more than 70 games this season. He was the Flyers leader in average ice time per

(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Mark Streit was a welcomed asset to the powerplay. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

game(22:22), along with leading all defensemen in points (52) and powerplay points (30). Streit, while aging and probably overpaid, is still of great use to the Flyers. He still is quick and was a big part of the success of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on the powerplay. Keeping him around would still benefit the Flyers.

Michael Del Zotto (32 Points, Minus-5)

The resurgance of Michael Del Zotto. The Flyers signed Del Zotto last summer to a low risk contract, and it paid off. Del Zotto was traded from the Rangers with the idea that his career wasn’t going to pan out. His numbers were falling since joining the league, and after joining Nashville, he registered just 5 points in 25 games. That changed in Philadelphia. Del Zotto showed that he would take risks to jump into the play, and it paid off for the Flyers. Del Zotto had the most goals among Flyer defenseman including 4 game winners, despite only playing in 64 games.  Del Zotto’s defensive skill could use a little improvement, but he is definitely worth keeping around. He is the offensive defenseman the Flyers were lacking. Not to mention the lethal shot he has (see below).

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Nick Schultz (15 Points, Plus-2)

Another pleasant surprise this season. The Flyers signed Schultz hoping he could bring veteran experience to the blue-line and it panned out

Nick Schultz (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)
Nick Schultz came in and exceeded expectations. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

for the better. Schultz was solid around his own net, and was one of just two Flyer defensemen to finish as a plus on the season. Flyers fans constantly saw him making good plays to get out of trouble in his own zone, and minimizing turnovers. Schultz also far and away led the team in blocked shots with 166 along with being the only other defenseman to play more than 70 games this season. Schultz started 35.1% of his shifts in the defensive zone, which also led Flyer defenseman by a long shot. That is very telling when compared to his plus/minus. The Flyers signed him to a two year deal this season with a reasonable cap hit, and it was no doubt the right decision.

Nicklas Grossmann (14 Points, Plus-8)

A lot of Flyers fans seem to be torn on Nicklas Grossmann, and his stats don’t make the argument any easier. Grossmann led the Flyers in plus/minus this season, however he was dead last in Corsi percentage at 46.3%. Doesn’t really add up, other than the fact that he averaged over two minutes per game on one of the worst penalty kills in the NHL, so goals against don’t count as a minus. Grossmann also played more minutes with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek than any other forwards, so that probably boosted his plus/minus. Also interesting to note that when Giroux and Voracek were apart from Grossmann, their Corsi percentages shot up nearly 6% each. The same can be said for D-partner Mark Streit, whose went up nearly 8% when he was apart from Grossmann. Grossmann is a sluggish defenseman, he does a good job at clearing the front of the net, but his puck possession stats are not very good. The Flyers need to start moving away from bigger, slower defenseman, and Grossmann fits that description.

Luke Schenn (14 Points, Minus-2)

I’ll be the first one to say it, Luke Schenn gets a lot of criticism here in Phialdelphia. He is tough, gritty, and will throw his body around, however, he doesn’t have blazing speed. Schenn was a healthy scratch at points during this season, but still looked decent when he was out on the ice. Schenn led the Flyers in hits (194) and was also 15th in the NHL in that category. Schenn has a reasonable cap hit at $3.6 million, and only two seasons left on his current deal. If there is one big, tough defenseman the Flyers should keep around, it’s Luke Schenn.

Andrew MacDonald (12 Points, Minus-5)

Disaster. Somewhere, Ron Hextall would like to put a stranglehold on Paul Holmgren, seriously. MacDonald’s contract is

Andrew MacDonald (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Andrew MacDonald (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

absolutely outrageous. He is under contract until the 2019-20 season with a cap hit of $5 million. Back in January I listed reasons why the Flyers lost the cap game, and MacDonald’s contract is a prime example of that. Despite starting 36% of his shifts in the offensive zone this season, MacDonald still finished as a minus-5 with only 14 points. He was also dead last among defensemen in hits with only 35. He has almost no positive impact when he’s on the ice, and certainly is dead weight on the Flyers cap. If there is any way the Flyers can get rid of him they need to. But with his hefty contract it looks like we’re stuck for a long time.

Carlo Colaiacovo (8 Points, Plus/Minus-0)

Another one of Ron Hextall’s very effective signings. Colaiacovo played just 33 games with the Flyers this season, but looked very good. Luke Schenn was mightily struggling when Colaiacovo came to Philadelphia, but pairing them helped Schenn improved his game. Together on the ice, those two had a Corsi of nearly 57%, that is exceptionally good. Take Colaiacovo away from Schenn, and Schenn’s dropped all the way down to 49%. Colaiacovo isn’t a number one defenseman, but he is a very solid second or third pairing man. The Flyers should definitely look into resigning him this offseason.

Steve Mason (18-18-11, 2.25 GAA, .928 S%)

Outstanding. That is one word you could use to describe the season that Steve Mason had this year. He finished 3rd in the NHL in save-

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Mason was the Flyers best player this season. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

percentage, which is very indicative of individual performance. Mason also finished in the top 10 in Goals Against Average, which speaks volumes about his play, considering that is more of a team stat, and the Flyers were not very good. Mason fought through injuries, controversy, and a coach that didn’t give him the credit he deserved. He proved he is the Flyers starting goaltender, and one that can steal them games.

Ray Emery (10-11-7, 3.06 GAA, .894 S%)

Average is the best word to sum up Ray Emery’s season. His stats look below average, but you have to remember how bad the Flyers were defensively this season. Emery’s lateral movement was not good whatsoever, and that has always been something that has plagued him. Emery is now a free agent and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flyers let him go, especially now that they have Rob Zepp who seems to be a NHL caliber backup.