There is a lot of speculation about the Leafs and what they will do to improve their defense. One name that often comes up is Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes. His name came up on twitter once again this week. In response I called Justin Faulk ‘terrible’ but I want to clarify that a little. He isn’t terrible, he is just not very good defensively. He does have some decent puck moving skills but overall he isn’t worth what he will get paid or what it would cost to acquire him.
He’s basically Rielly. Decent puck moving skills, bad defensively. Can’t defend a lead. See 139/140. https://t.co/OJURXU6Aur
— David Johnson (@hockeyanalysis) June 23, 2017
In fact Rielly and Faulk have two of the worst GA60 Rel for dmen last 2yrs which in turn gives them bad GF% Rel https://t.co/FDl1a0jmLn
— David Johnson (@hockeyanalysis) February 26, 2017
This is a blog post and I can go into a little more details on Faulk.
First off, let me explain why people are so enamoured by Justin Faulk. Here is his CF% Rel statistics by season and score situation.
Justin Faulk is (almost) always above the water when it comes CF%. He ‘drives play’ if you will (though I absolutely hate that terminology). But no one evaluates players based solely on Corsi right (or so I have been told), so lets look at GF% Rel.
So, he isn’t looking quite so good here. I’ve used bold font when he has had a negative impact and it turns out it is about half the time.
I want to bring focus on his defensive play so lets look at his GA60 Rel.
Again, I have used bold font to show negative impact on results which for GA60 is when more goals are scored. In all but three instances he has had a negative impact on goals against. He is especially bad at defending a lead which is exactly where Morgan Rielly is at his worst too.
What is interesting is that both shots against and negative impacts on save percentage are factors in the increased GA60.
It appears that when Justin Faulk is on the ice the Hurricanes have given up more shots and higher quality shots too.
Now, those playing devils advocate here might point out that in the past two seasons it appears he has improved and one might point out that that is to be expected for a young defenseman. Fair enough, however there is a clear reason for that. His quality of competition has dropped. Here are his top 5 opponent forwards for the past four seasons.
He’s gone from Crosby, Backstrom, St. Louis, Okposo and Johansson to Schenn, Giroux, Strome, Ladd and Nelson. To highlight the drop in QoC more lets look at his ice time against the premier forwards in the eastern conference: Crosby and Ovechkin.
Last year the Hurricanes used Slavin and Pesce the most against Crosby and Ovechkin (and both had significantly better GA60’s as well).
Furthermore, Justin Faulk’s 4v5 short handed ice time has steadily dropped over the past 4 seasons.
|4v5 PK TOI||176:03||157:50||117:41||50:21|
It is becoming clear that the Carolina Hurricanes now view Justin Faulk as a second pairing defenseman requiring sheltered minutes and even in that role he is only marginally effective. He is basically a right handed version of Morgan Rielly.
It’s time everyone stops being so captivated by Corsi numbers and actually dig a little deeper and find out what is really going on.
Justin Faulk is the last thing the Leafs need.