Justin Faulk and why I don’t want the Leafs to acquire him

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.

Basically, I believe Justin Faulk is almost identical to Morgan Rielly and I have written a lot about Morgan Rielly lately.

 

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.

 CF% Rel 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
5v5 Tied 1.80 3.00 3.10 1.50
5v5 Leading 2.70 7.40 -2.90 1.20
5v5 Trailing 2.70 3.90 2.60 2.30

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.

 GF% Rel 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
5v5 Tied 1.4 -4.4 8.1 -6.2
5v5 Leading 2.1 10.3 -18.8 -16.3
5v5 Trailing -2.0 1.2 -13.3 5.0

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.

 GA60 Rel 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
5v5 Tied 0.82 0.66 -0.40 -0.25
5v5 Leading 0.03 0.95 1.73 1.24
5v5 Trailing 1.60 0.20 2.37 -0.50

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.

 CA60 Rel 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
5v5 Tied 2.01 3.21 -1.32 -2.01
5v5 Leading -0.33 3.47 9.95 4.68
5v5 Trailing -2.73 1.62 2.90 -1.39

 

 Sv% Rel 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
5v5 Tied -2.1 -0.9 1.8 1.0
5v5 Leading 0.3 -2.1 -3.4 -3.4
5v5 Trailing -5.0 -0.6 -7.3 2.4

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.

2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Crosby Giroux Atkinson Schenn
Backstrom Crosby Jenner Giroux
St. Louis Jagr Ovechkin Strome
Okposo Nash Brassard Ladd
Johansson Backstrom Zuccarello Nelson

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.

2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Crosby 37:24 41:11 26:16 18:56
Ovechkin 30:40 36:17 30:47 19:07

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.

2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
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.

 

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