The only real dip into the unrestricted free agent market yesterday by the Toronto Maple Leafs was the signing of 3rd/4th line center Jay McClement. Jay McClement’s best season in the NHL point wise was in 2009-10 when he had 11 goals and 29 points and last year he had 10 goals and 17 points for the Avalanche so clearly he wasn’t signed to produce offense. The question is, how good is he defensively. Let’s take a look at how McClement compares to his Avalanche team mates last year in terms of goals against per 20 minutes of ice time.
The only players who saw goals get scored against the avalanche at a higher rate when they were on the ice last year were McGinn and Downie, and a good part of Downie’s time was spent with the extremely defensively inept Tampa Bay Lightning so you can’t really include Downie. So, essentially McClement had the second worst goals against rate of any Avalanche forward. Now, what about quality of competition. Let’s look at the average goal scoring rate (goals for per 20 minutes of ice time) of the players McClement lined up against.
McClement’s opposition was by far the weakest offensively that any Avalanche forward faced last season. This isn’t very good news for Leaf fans who might be expecting a defensive forward.
In 2010-11 he split time between the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche and put up a goals against per 20 minute of ice time of 1.147. The only two forwards on either team to put up a worse GA20 was Brandon Yip and Kevin Porter. His quality of competition was a little tougher in 2010-11, about middle of the pack of those two teams.
Three seasons ago in 2009-10 with St. Louis he did seem to have a good defensive year. He posted the third lowest goals against rate of any Blues forward and faced the toughest offensive opponents. In 2008-09, also with the Blues, he was 5th best in goals against rate and 3rd best in offensive quality of opponent. In 2007-08, again with the Blues, he had the worst goals against rate but second toughest offensive quality of opponent.
When we take his statistics league-wide we see some bad news as well. Of the 308 forwards with 1000 or more 5v5 zone start adjusted minutes of ice time over the past 2 seasons, McClement ranks 303rd in terms of goals against rate, 270th in terms of opponents goals for rate and 139th in terms of teammates goals against rate. So, to summarize that, he had above average defensive line mates, played against very weak offensive opponents and had a dreadful goals against average while he was on the ice.
The two years prior McClement looked much better. He ranked 119th (of 310) in goals against rate, 124th in teammate defensive ability, and had the 87th toughest quality of opponent offensively.
In summary, the last 2 seasons McClement’s statistics show him to be a dreadful defensive player. The two years prior he seemed to be useful to good defensively. Which player will the Leafs get? Who knows, but Leaf fans better hope it is the 2008-10 version because the McClement of the past 2 years has him as one of the least valuable players in the league.