One of the most controversial players among Vancouver Canucks fans is defenseman Tyler Myers. His five-year, $30 million contract has been scrutinized ever since the ink dried on the deal. Some fans like the 6-foot-8 gargantuan blueliner with his smooth skating and cannon of a shot:
On the other hand, numerous Canucks fans view Myers as a defensive liability who doesn’t contribute enough offensively to make up for his deficiencies. More analytically inclined fans loathe his contract and think he is one of the worst D-men in the entire NHL:
Due to the vast discrepancies in how people view Myers, it will be practically impossible to make a report card that Canucks fans can agree upon. However, this will attempt to balance his season grade based on both his analytics and more traditional statistics.
Myers’ offensive play is the one thing supporters and haters of the defender can agree upon. Nobody argues he isn’t effective offensively. In 2020-21, he scored six goals and added 15 assists. His six goals ranked first among Canucks’ defencemen and were tied with Tyler Motte for eighth overall on the team. The 15 assists Myers tallied were second among Vancouver’s blueliners behind Quinn Hughes and ranked fifth overall on the Canucks.
Myers’ 2020-21 point total of 21 was tied with Elias Pettersson for sixth on the Canucks’ roster this season and ranked second among the team’s blueliners behind Hughes. His advanced statistics also paint a rosy picture offensively.
His player card by JFresh Hockey places his even-strength offence (this gathered by his numbers in categories such as scoring chances, shots, etc) in the 67th percentile and his goals per 60 (G/60) in the 84th percentile among defencemen. For those unfamiliar with what “percentiles” refer to in these models, here’s JFresh’s explanation about it.
“My player cards present data in percentile form. Percentiles are a way of showing how a given player ranks compared to their peers. For example, if a forward has 85th percentile goals per 60 minutes, that means that they have a higher goals per 60 than 85% of forwards in the league”.Player Card Explainer
Basically, this means Myers’ even-strength numbers offensively are better than 67% of the blueliners in the NHL, while his G/60 is higher than 84% of the defenders in the league. Overall, Myers does well offensively in both the traditional metrics (points, goals, etc) and in regards to advanced statistics.
This is where the major bone of contention occurs in regards to Myers.
The aforementioned player card by JFresh places Myers’ even-strength defence (EV Def) at 0%. Meaning, based on his advanced statistics he ranks dead last among defencemen in their ability to defend and is better defensively than 0% of the blueliners in the NHL.
However, based on more traditional numbers, Myers is a decent defender. In 2020-21, he threw 61 hits (1.1 hits per game) and blocked 74 shots (1.3 blocks per game). In total, he ranked eighth in hits and third in blocks among the Canucks. He had a plus/minus of minus-8. Some people have pointed out that he averaged the second-most time on ice (TOI) per game among the Canucks and the team (as a whole) had a minus-37 goal differential, which may have impacted his individual plus/minus. This theory about his plus/minus implies that logging lots of TOI on a Canucks team that let in lots of goals caused him to boast a poor plus/minus; however it ignores that a defenceman who plays often should be responsible for limiting scoring opportunities against his team.
To find out if this theory holds any merit, I created this table that compares the Canucks in a number of categories in general (e.g. every combination of players at even-strength) to how they played with Myers on the ice. The statistics that are being compared are Corsi (CF%), Fenwick (FF%), shots for (SF%), scoring chances for (SCF%), goals for (GF%) and expected goals for (xGF%).
Diving into these numbers showed that Myers was a bit worse in all of these categories than the team as a whole; however, his numbers were pretty consistent with the team, as no major fluctuations between the sets of data occurred.
2020-21 Grade: C+
Overall, Myers’ 2020-21 grade is a C+. His ability to generate offence from the blue line is undeniable and he cemented himself as the Canucks second-best offensive defenceman. However, his defensive game will continue to be debated. In regards to his physical stats (hits and blocks), he was fantastic. Despite this, he was worse than the team as a whole in regards to suppressing shots (SF%) and scoring chances against (SCF%). Furthermore, the team did worse in scoring (GF%) and generating expected goals (xGF%) with him on the ice. Although there wasn’t a major negative difference between the Canucks’ numbers with him on versus off of the ice in regards to these numbers, as Vancouver’s highest-paid blueliner, the team’s metrics in regards to suppressing shots and scoring chances should be higher with him on the ice than off of it.
For all of these reasons, his grade is a middle-of-the-pack C+. He was good offensively, provided a physical presence, and has intangibles such as his huge reach that can interrupt scoring lanes. Even if you don’t think he’s better defensively than 0% of the defenders in the league, as advanced statistics indicate, his defensive game has room for improvement as the Canucks in general ranked better than him in a variety of statistics that take defensive play into account.