At the start of the season, the Hurricanes elected to keep Derek Joslin on their main roster as one of nine eligible defensemen. This looks like an excessive amount but keeping Joslin on the big club was a very smart move in the end. He is signed to a cheap contract and couldn't be sent to the AHL without passing through waivers first, and the team felt that he would be needed sooner or later. He spent the first month of the season in the press-box but Joslin eventually became a regular part of the lineup during the second half of the season, but as a forward and not a defenseman.
With both the Hurricanes and the Charlotte Checkers having a lot of injuries to forwards, depth was desperately needed and Kirk Muller turned to Joslin for that reason in February. It was the first time he had ever played forward in years but his size, decent shot and willingness to get involved physically gave Muller the idea that he would be a good fit for the team's fourth line. This idea did not sound horrible at first and his line with Anthony Stewart & Tim Brent was very popular with fans, but the truth is that Joslin is much better when he is playing his natural position on the blue line.
Joslin isn't the most talented or most effective player in the world, but he is serviceable as a 6th or 7th defenseman. As a forward, he does more harm than good for the Canes and his scoring chance numbers plummeted after he switched positions. We will look at those numbers after the jump.
Derek Joslin 2011-12 Scoring Chances
Average TOI: 10:35
Even Strength Chance% Defense Rank: 9/9
Even Strength Chance Diff/60 Defense Rank: 9/9
QualComp Defense Rank: 9/9
OZ Start%: 59.8%
Whether he was playing as a defenseman or a forward, Joslin played some of the softest minutes on the team. Frequently started in the offensive zone against other team's fourth liners and was trusted to play no more than 12 minutes a game. The coaching staff liked him enough to give him a jersey for over half the games but not enough to give him a significant role. He is what you would call a "depth player" even though his versatility is nice to have.
Scoring Chances by Season Segment
|Game #||TCF||TCA||SCF||SCA||Segment%||Team %|
TC = total chances, SC = segment chances, Segment% = scoring chance percentage during segment, Team %= Hurricanes' scoring chance percentage during segment
Scoring Chance Segment by Line Graph
Joslin's play, as a whole, was not very impressive this year. His performance as a defenseman wasn't too bad and he actually broke the 50% mark a couple times, but he was also playing some of the easiest minutes on the team and should be able to control scoring chances in those situations no matter what. Still, he managed not to get killed and had some extremely modest success early on in the season which is about all I expected from him.
Things went downhill fast when he was converted to forward, though and that's evident when you look at the line graph above. As a defenseman, Joslin was at least serviceable with protected minutes but, as a forward, he was below replacement level. This is to be expected because he wasn't playing his natural position and he was thrown into the role almost immediately. It's pretty bad when you aren't creating much scoring chances and are giving up a lot at the other end with limited ice-time. I think it's safe to say that he won't be playing much forward next season, if at all.
The reasoning behind keeping Joslin on the team to start the year is that the team wasn't sure what they had in him and it would be silly to lose him on waivers for nothing in return. We have seen 61 games from Joslin over two seasons and overall, I am not impressed. It is a very small sample size but it is tough to keep a player around if he struggles this much at keeping the puck in the offensive zone. I do not think the team will have him as part of the final roster to start next year, seeing how there will probably be a logjam on the blue-line and Joslin just isn't good as a forward. His physical presence is a nice addition but he doesn't produce much offense and the puck always seems to be in Carolina's end when he's on the ice.
The only time Joslin was able to control scoring chances at even strength is when he was playing behind the "Skinns & Finns" line. He was underwater with just about everyone else and he couldn't seem to develop chemistry with any of the blue-liners. How bad Joslin was when he wasn't playing with most of these players is also pretty alarming because he was under 50% when playing away from just about everyone. The only exception was Anthony Stewart, his regular linemate when he was playing forward. Those two were a nightmare defensively and they weren't much better when Tim Brent was centering that line, either.