I took my annual look at how Jack Johnson’s teammates did with and without him today and, as is always the case, they pretty much all did worse with him than they did without him.
I did a throwaway tweet about it and wouldn’t have given it any more thought but someone asked me about Quality of Competition. The theory (and this comes up often when a Name D has lousy numbers over and over) is that Name D plays the tough minutes, providing shelter to everyone else. Johnson only played 90 minutes with James Wisniewski so, the theory goes, maybe Johnson played tougher minutes, making everyone look better without him not because he hurts your team but because playing with Johnson implicitly means playing against the best.
When this question comes up, I sometimes like to look at it in a different way that the abstract QoC numbers that people look out. Just pick some star forwards and see how the results for the Jackets were different when Johnson’s on the ice versus WIsniewski. I decided to use Crosby, Ovechkin, Giroux, Jagr, E. Staal, Nash, Kessel, Spezza, Seguin, Bergeron, Thornton, Kopitar, Backes, Malkin, M. Koivu, Hall, Getzlaf, Landeskog and H. Sedin.
Here’s what that gets you:
I think it’s fair to say that the Jackets shelter Wisniewski’s pairing to a degree. Wisniewski played about 200 fewer minutes overall than Johnson – the gap between their TOI against star forwards is too big for me to say that this is just as a result of Johnson playing more time on ice overall.
Other than that though, same old story: Johnson does worse against star fowards than Wisniewski. The spread’s not as big as the overall spread in their Corsi% – it’s a five point gap in Wisniewski’s favour rather than six point gap in their overall numbers. It’s still huge.
No matter where he plays, every year, we see this with Johnson. He’s the clearest case there is of a defenceman who people in the NHL seem to love – US Olympic nominations, big contracts, acquired for valuable commodities – who the numbers just say is awful. Have fun with Pittsburgh.Email Tyler Dellow at email@example.com