It’s no secret the Detroit Red Wings have been in the market for a top-four defenseman since prior to last season’s trade deadline, but have balked at the hefty asking prices across the league thus far. This year Buffalo Sabres’ defenseman Tyler Myers has dominated early season NHL trade rumors and been heavily and repeatedly linked to the Red Wings. But the Wings would be wise to instead look to their vast supply of NHL ready prospects before hastily dipping into that system to make a move for Myers.
Tyler Myers the Mirage
The biggest issue with Myers is that he just isn’t as good as many people think. NHL executives (apparently Ken Holland included) drool over his age (24), his massive frame (6-8, 227 lbs.), and whatever potential remains that he might regain the form he displayed in his 48 point ( 11 G, 37 A) 2009-10 rookie season. Spoiler: the latter’s probably not going to happen.
Myers has never been the player he appeared to be that season, as evidenced by a myriad of both basic and advanced statistics. His shooting percentage that year was 10.6%, which is over a full point higher than any season since. Myers’ team on-ice shooting percentage was also a bloated 9.5%, another figure he has never come close to replicating. In his second season his S% and oiSH% deteriorated to more sustainable levels of 8.2 and 8.5 respectively, while his points per 60 predictably fell by .3. In Myers’ third year his S% jumped back to 9.5 and his oiSH% ticked up to 8.7, yet his PTS/60 remained at 1.0. How is this possible? You might think it could have to do to his increase in defensive zone starts, but then-head coach Lindy Ruff actually dropped Myers from the Sabres’ top defensive pairing that year. As a result, his level of competition (and, for that matter, the quality of his teammates) dropped dramatically. That season Myers also felt the sting of injuries for the first time in his NHL career, while seeing his relative Corsi plummet from 4.5 the previous season to -3.8 that season.
|Corsi (EV)||Fenwick (EV)||PDO (EV)||Zone Starts (EV)|
|Season||Age||Tm||Lg||GP||TOI||CF||CA||CF%||CF% rel||FF||FA||FF%||FF% rel||oiSH%||oiSV%||PDO||oZS%||dZS%|
In just one season’s time, Myers’ team went from significantly better to significantly worse with him on the ice. Just a bad year, right? Yes and no. While 2011-12 was by far the worst season of his career, prior to last season (when the Sabres were truly awful), 2010-11 was the only campaign in which Myers managed to produce a positive relative Corsi – this despite four seasons of relatively favorable zone deployment. And perhaps most damning of all is Myers inability to make an impact thus far in the current campaign. The Sabres are so bad this year that they needed their current three game winning streak to drag their record up to 6-13-2, yet Myers is sporting the second-worst relative Corsi and PTS/60 of his career. Granted, this season is only 21 games old and while the usual small sample size caveats apply, we are supplementing it with years of data that point to Myers being an overvalued commodity. This is especially true when considering the bounty Buffalo is looking for in return. But for better, and often for worse, considerable price tags are something Detroit hasn’t shied away from in the past.
Kyle Quincey 2.0
Kyle Quincey is a notable example of a player who the Red Wings surrendered significant value (2012 round 1, 19th pick overall) to acquire. One of Detroit fans’ favorite punching bags, Quincey looked to be on his way out the door this offseason before the Red Wings struck out in free agency. He somehow parlayed their desperation into a two-year, $4,250,000 AAV contract constituting a rather remarkable raise of nearly $500,000 per year. The ensuing fan outrage over the move was predictable, but here’s the thing: Tyler Myers is a rich man’s Kyle Quincey.
Given Quincey’s reputation, a relative similarity in the trajectory of their respective careers was obviously a startling discovery. A fair critique of this similarity would be to say that Myers adds value on the power play, something Quincey (a total offensive liability) clearly does not. Well, I did say Myers was the richer version and his superior offensive ability is what makes him such. That said, he hasn’t scored more than nine points on the PP since 2010-11, so he’s not exactly Niklas Kronwall, either. Thus, Myers’ purported ability to provide the Red Wings help on the power play is at worst overstated, and at best would remain to be seen.
The flip side of the coin is defensive prowess. If Myers’ offensive game leaves you underwhelmed, then you aren’t going to find relief here: Quincey is better at defense than Myers. When averaged over the course of 82 games, the two are nearly even in traditional counting statistics such as career blocks, hits, and takeaways. That said, two catch-all defensive statistics, Defensive Point Shares (DPS) and Defensive Goals Versus Threshold (DGVT), prefer Quincey to Myers (downloadable spreadsheets can be found here, courtesy of Rob Vollman).
On top of all of this, Myers carries the onus of an outrageous price tag. In addition to a draft pick Buffalo is reportedly seeking a highly regarded prospect they can keep in the minors this year in order to maximize their lottery chances of securing Connor McDavid in next year’s draft. The Red Wings have reportedly already turned down an offer from the Sabres for top prospect, forward Anthony Mantha. However, no such reports have surfaced regarding 2014 first round forward Dylan Larkin, nor have there been reports on the availability of Detroit’s defensive prospects.
Detroit’s Defensive Prospects
The Red Wings have a bevy of prospects with top-four potential on defense, most notably Xavier Ouellet (21), who appeared in one playoff game last season and was called up last week to fill in while Brendan Smith recovers from a hand infection. Ouellet narrowly missed NHL.com’s list of top 60 prospects, and ranked at 59 in ESPN Insider and Hockey Prospectus prospect analyst Corey Pronman’s own top 100 list. Pronman and online prospects resource Hockey’s Future view Ouellet as the Red Wings’ best defensive prospect and suggest that he is ready to contribute in the NHL. Ouellet unfortunately shoots left, as does every other current Red Wings defenseman, but his talent is such that Babcock voiced public displeasure with management’s decision to send him to the minors at the conclusion of training camp. General manager Ken Holland’s decision to do so clearly had more to do with “asset management” than putting the best players on the roster. In only three games with the big club Ouellet has shown he is clearly superior to both Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff, and that he deserves to remain on the roster going forward.
Aside from Ouellet, Detroit has four other defensive prospects viewed by many as ready or near ready to make an NHL impact this season:
Ryan Sproul, 21
Hockey’s Future: “Ryan Sproul finished his junior career a highly decorated player, being named both the CHL Defenseman of the Year and winning the Max Kaminsky Trophy for Defenseman of the Year in 2012-13. Despite the accolades Sproul moved up to the AHL in 2013-14 with concerns lingering about the defensive side of his game.
The aforementioned concerns made it seem like Sproul would need a few season to develop in the AHL, but he exceeded expectations in 2013-14. His defensive zone play has improved significantly. Sproul’s offensive game translated well to professional hockey, as he posted 32 points in 72 games. Sproul willl be ready for a shot at an NHL roster spot in the next one to two seasons.”
Corey Pronman: “Ryan Sproul had some ups and downs in his first pro season, but on his best shift, there’s a lot to like about a 6-foot-3 defenseman with great skill and skating as well as a big shot. His defense continues to be a work in progress, which kept him from being deployed in tough minutes situations at times in the AHL.”
Alexey Marchenko, 22
HF: “Alexey Marchenko has spent one season playing professionally and has already made a name for himself as a defender capable of shutting down opposing forwards. He plays a steady game, is responsible in all zones, and uses good stick work to break up rushes. Marchenko was rewarded with a spot in the 2013-14 AHL All Star Game and will return to Grand Rapids in 2014-15. If he continues to develop at the rate he has been he should be ready for the NHL in the very near future.”
Pronman: “Alexey Marchenko has finally got a solid footing under him in terms of health and playing time, and he turned in an AHL All-Star season. He’s an average or better player at most areas of the game and could be an NHLer in the near future.”
Mattias Backman, 22
HF: “Mattias Backman has a bit of offensive upside, but his true calling card is in his defensive play. He is excellent at getting himself into the proper position to disrupt opposing players, and he has a good first pass that helps start breakouts. Backman proved himself ready for the AHL during the 2013-14 playoffs, playing 10 games and notching six points. He will play for Grand Rapids again in 2014-15.”
Pronman: “Mattias Backman isn’t an overly flashy player, but he’s continued to rise due to impressive play at the pro level in Sweden. He’s an average or better skater and puck mover who has become a solid defender. He could be in the NHL as soon as this season.”
Nick Jensen, 24
The last player on the Red Wings’ radar was considered more of a bottom pairing or even fringe NHLer coming into the season, but impressed everyone who saw him play at training camp and in the preseason.
HF: “A shoulder injury delayed the start of Nick Jensen’s 2013-14 season until December, but he had a very good second half of the season. In his first AHL season Jensen only notched nine points, but he displayed physicality and intelligent defensive play. Though not known for his offense, he did see time on the power play during the 2013-14 season. Jensen will return to the Griffins in 2014-15.”
Jensen did not make Pronman’s organizational top ten list, but I was able to speak with him via email:
Pronman: “(Nick Jensen)’s a good not great prospect. Skilled puck mover, really stood out in college. May not be elite enough offensively or defensively to be an NHLer, but he can play. May be a victim of numbers in that (Detroit) system though.”
Just Say No, Kenny
There is mounting statistical evidence that, despite his age, Myers’ best playing days may in fact already be behind him. This evidence, along with the stable of defensive prospects in the Detroit system, suggests that making a move for Myers (especially at his severely inflated price tag) would be a mistake. But we’ve been here before, Red Wings fans. Of the long list of fantastic things general manager Ken Holland has done during his tenure with the team, making in-season trades has not always been one of them. In the last three years alone, Holland has surrendered a first round pick for Quincey and shipped a great prospect in Calle Jarnkrok to Nashville for two months of David Legwand. Both trades were questioned when they took place, and look even worse in the short amount of time that has since passed. With multiple prospects ready for NHL ice time at defense Holland has a chance to make take a measured, though not flashy, approach to continue building this team. The question is: has he learned from his prior transgressions?
Author’s Note: An unfinished version of this article was mistakenly published briefly on 11/25/14.
13 thoughts on “Tyler Myers: the Rich Man’s Kyle Quincey and the Wrong Man for Detroit”
Stick to being a millwright guy. Myers is far greater then Quincey.
Dear Rob…at the same age -24- Chara was on the verge of his first All Star nomination and one year from his first Norris votes…The Big Easy (well named I hate to say) at this stage of his career has become an “he is what he is” guy. maybe a second pairing if someone physical is around to do the dirty work in front of the crease…which he is emotionally unsuited for as we see every night.
Go back on youtube to the famous Lucic-Miller incident . Hey who is that tall guy hiding behind Gaustad and scared to make eye contact with Milan while his franchise goalie is collecting his brains with a spatula? Right, The Big Easy. All 6’8″ and 230 lbs of cream cheese .
Had that been a Sabre steamrolling Tuukka Rask , Chara would’ve been up on murder charges the next morning. My point is not senseless violence for mere entertainment sake, but the lack of any malevolent presence in a man of his size. He isnt big really…just taller than most and he needs to do more physically or move on. Talent wise, skating stride aside, he isnt much better than most. That makes him too expensive for so little a return. Hey Darcy has a job doesnt he? He loves his old players right? hmmmm…get to the phones Tim Murray!
Hmmm since your remembering that Miller incident so well. I do believe the guy was just a kid back then. And if you yourself watch that incident you can clearly see NOBODY came to the aid of Miller. Not even Mr. tuff guy kaleta so let’s not bring that up.
Always great to see advanced stats, but I have a few things.
You didn’t address Teammate quality in Myers case nor Quincey’s case. I don’t think it’s good use of stats to use Quincy’s 2009 stats from his Colorado days of 45%OZ/29.5 QOC even though that looks good for him. Quincy is obviously considered a 2nd pairing defenseman by Babcock, as shown by his last two seasons being middle competition and middle quality of competition. Also TOI is relevant, has Quincy is averaging 4 minutes a night less and actually 5th most of EV time on the Red Wings. He is still a negative relative player even with those easier minutes and Dekeyser as his most frequent partner.
Then we head to Myers. Leading the Sabres in TOI, -1% FF Rel but his partner most frequently has been Gorges who is notably a negative possession player and probably best at 2nd pairing, like Myers, but forced to play top line minutes with arguably the worst forward group in the NHL. 36% OZ start, Quincy has never seen less than 42. That should paint a solid picture of how impossible it is to succeed in Corsi, especially on the Sabres. Since Gorges injury he is being paired with Strachan, a 30 year old AHL veteran who is suddenly getting top pairing minutes this season.
As a Sabres fan, I think you did not do enough contextual information to support the argument of “Why do people still think Myers is awesome?”, but great to see use of it!
Very well put. Some people shouldn’t be writing about hockey. I read your posts on DBTB and they are very info packed. With let’s say the correct information
Myers would be a top 2 defense man on the wings. It’s funny how people just look to statistics to tell the story. Myers plays for a historicly bad team with an unexistant offense…. it’s kind of hard to put up good numbers when your team scores one goal and your on the ice for 25 minutes. Watch him play, the kid is a very good hockey player and is just going to get better. The wings or any other team would be crazy not to put some form of offer in for him, this style of defensemen does not go on the market very often.
Completely agree on keeping the youngsters… except for the fact that they can’t all make it to the league and be Red Wings. So the question is, who can Holland get, especially if we’re going all out to get Z and Dats one more cup. Myers isn’t even close to the target in that case. And I’m glad this article points out he shouldn’t be otherwise either.
Ahh Myers haters. Will always get them and they are always ignorant. Any detractors out there watch this guy play? Hes a solid top pair defender logging huge minutes playing against the oppositions top line night after night. His offensive points may never again touch his rookie year but on a bad team thats worst in the league in scoring two years running it’s that all that surprising? It’s a beautiful thing to just watch a guy with his size skate the way he does. He had a tough year or two in there but since Ted Nolan is back behind the bench he’s been a rock defensively on a very bad team. Especially since he’s paired with Gorges when hes healthy having a true top pair D guy to play with has been huge for his game. Remember Chara at 24 years old? He was below average to average at best and skated nowhere near as well as Myers does. I would want Mantha and a high pick for Myers personally so keep your prospect who’s never played an nhl game and I’ll keep my proven top pair D guy
Well then, why would you even want Mantha?
I think Mantha is a very good prospect who should be a good to hear nhl player but who knows maybe he’s the next Darren Haydar. The point I was making is on this Sabres team with the depth at D the organization has I would consider dealing Myers but I want a knock my socks off package in return and if you don’t want to give it I’ll keep him.
Well written, well thought-out article! I’m still amazed at the number of Tyler Myers apologists out there. The stats speak for themselves, but even moreso, just watch the guy play. This guy is just a “run of the mill” defenseman. If it wasn’t for his size (which he doesn’t even use effectiviely), he’d be playing over in Europe right now.
Agree. Leave the defense alone right now. Quincey has actually been pretty good this year. I think I would have laughed in the Buffalo GM’s face if I was asked to trade Anthony Mantha for Myers. Especially with the depth at defense in their system.
Legwand helped keep our postseason streak alive. Sure the goal is a Cup, but that streak is important to me.
Jarnkrok would be stuck with the Griffins for the foreaeeable future, and his development is not certain. Plus, Holland may have believed Alfie would be back this year, creating more of at F. I’ll take the streak and a handful of other F prospects over no streak and the same prospects plus Calle.
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