Unlike the forward lines, the Hurricanes did less juggling with their defense pairings and had a few units that stayed together for most of the season. Injuries to Jay Harrison and Joni Pitkanen caused some of the pairings to be switched around but for the most part, the Hurricanes kept their defense pairings the same for portions of the year. Tim Gleason & Bryan Allen handled most of the tough minutes, Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison played against second lines and provided offense while Jamie McBain and Jaroslav Spacek played the easier minutes and were also relied on for offense. Most Hurricanes fans were comfortable with these pairings but it's unlikely that they will stay in-tact next season.
Change is something that is normally unwelcomed but I would expect there to be a new look to the pairings next year. With Allen's return being an uncertainty, Pitkanen being healthy (knock on wood), free agents being signed and the possibility of others being promoted from within, it's almost a guarantee that Carolina's defense will look somewhat different. To see how drastic these changes will affect the team and what kind of players need to be brought in to fill these holes, we can look at how certain defense pairings performed this year.
There's been a lot of debate over who the "top" defense pairing for the Canes was this year, especially since the team's usually #1 defenseman spent most of the year on the shelf and looking at how they did by scoring chances will let us know what pairing really was the best for Carolina. More importantly, this will give us a better idea of which defenseman are best suited for certain roles. We know that whoever played with Gleason was assigned tough minutes while those who played with Spacek were given easier minutes. Seeing who played well with those defensemen and who didn't will show if there is any other defenseman on the roster capable of playing the toughs next season. This is very important to look at with free agency coming up and Allen possibly departing.
We all know the Canes will be looking for a defenseman but is it possible that there is someone on the roster who was underrated or someone who could possibly replace Allen. We will find out after the jump.
Just remember each player's role before making judgments on the numbers because what kind of minutes a player is used in often affects their scoring chance/shot data. To make things easier on yourself, refer to the team's Usage Chart.no comments