When the Winnipeg Jets signed Mark Stuart to a 4-year extension worth $2.65 million per season, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff spoke of his character.
“He is what the Winnipeg Jets are all about.” Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg media back on March 5. “The leadership he provides, the type of person he is, he is what the Winnipeg Jets are all about when it comes to having a character-type person.”
Character Isn’t Everything
Now all of that is fine. But character isn’t the be-all, end-all to win hockey games. Skill and talent are just as, if not more important than character. Stuart’s defence partner for the most part is rising star Jacob Trouba, who has talent and skill beyond his 20 years of age.
It’s no secret that Trouba’s locker is right beside Stuart’s in the Jets dressing room. The Jets coaching staff want Trouba, as well as Mark Scheifele to learn from Stuart on what it takes to be a professional. While that might work off the ice, it is on the ice where this is a problem.
Advanced Stats Tell A Different Story
Stuart’s corsi was at 47.6% while his Fenwick was 48.9%. In other words, when Stuart was on the ice, the Jets were usually hemmed in their own zone, instead of attacking the opposition net.
What makes matters worse is that every defenceman that has paired up with Stuart has seen their corsi numbers drastically fall off. Stuart’s lack of foot speed is a major source of concern. Too often, wingers are getting the first step and blowing right by him towards the net. Character doesn’t help, when you can’t catch your opponent.
The joys of how Mark Stuart affects Corsi: pic.twitter.com/75WOXRAV5X
— Garret Hohl (@garrethohl) April 28, 2014
Trouba is the future of the Jets blue line. A smooth skater to go with a blistering slap shot, Trouba possesses all the tools to perhaps capture a Norris Trophy in the future.
He is much more effective when the Jets are pushing the puck forward, instead of sitting back and defending.
Trouba Should Look Up To A King
If Trouba wants to model his game after someone, he should look to the bright sunshine of California for inspiration. More specifically a King in the City of Angels. Drew Doughty is one of the best defenceman in the NHL, despite not winning a Norris Trophy in his career. His corsi is an astounding 58.5% while his Fenwick is 57.3%. And he wasn’t even nominated for the Norris this season.
Doughty was arguably the best player for Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics, scoring 4 goals and tallying 2 assists as Canada won its second straight Olympic gold medal. It wasn’t just his offensive output that stood out. Doughty was a stud in his own end, playing stout, sturdy defence while pushing the puck forward with passes that just seemed to reach a teammate’s stick.
Others will differ, I’m sure, but to me Drew Doughty has been the best player in the entire tournament. Just outrageously gifted, poised.
— Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) February 21, 2014
Doughty is a proven winner in the NHL as well. He was on of the leaders for the Los Angeles Kings in their Stanley Cup championship run in 2012, and is currently leading the Kings in another long playoff run in 2014. Doughty’s leadership on and off the ice are intangibles that Trouba should be emulating for future endeavours.
Granted, Trouba can’t learn everything from Doughty. There is no chance Doughty will be suiting up in a Winnipeg Jets uniform anytime soon. But what Trouba should be doing is watching game tape of Doughty during the offseason. Especially playoff games where Doughty rises to the occasion on a regular basis. Trouba would see a composed blue liner, who plays in every situation. Power-play, penalty-kill, five-on-five, crunch time. Doughty does it all. On top of that, Doughty has incredible stamina, averaging 25.3 minutes of ice time in the regular season, and 26.9 minutes of ice time in the playoffs. One can only hope that young Jacob Trouba is watching and learning.
You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973