Adding Nick Jensen at the trade deadline was a hail mary pass by Brian MacLellan. For a while, it worked.
|17.0||time on ice per game|
|49.6||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|49.5||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|51.9||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the season. A short description of each chart:
For the second year in a row, General Manager Brian MacLellan gave his team a major shot in the arm at the trade deadline. Adding Nick Jensen (and Carl Hagelin) on February 22 made the Caps a much, much better team.
At the risk of collapsing cause and correlation, here’s how the Caps fared at five-on-five over the course of the season.
After the Caps added Jensen and Hagelin — and before Michal Kempny’s hamstring injury — the Capitals were probably the best team in the NHL.
Like with Hagelin, Jensen’s contributions to the team filled a desperate need: the Caps had a very tough time transitioning to offense. Jensen’s fine on defense, but his passing is even better. (Another need for Washington was, sadly, to remove Madison Bowey, who proved not to be up for the task of NHL play.) After playing tough minutes for Detroit, Jensen could lower the load on Orlov-Niskanen and give the Caps more counter-strike potency in their top-four defense.
At least, that was the idea. Jensen’s actual role was as body man for Brooks Orpik. Jensen played most of his minutes with Orpik while seeing his ice time drop as Washington’s top pairing barely nudged down at all.
Jensen and Orpik were pretty good — controlling 52.5 percent of shot attempts and outscoring opponents 12 to 8. And Jensen’s (small-sample!) results with other defenders were shockingly bad (barely over 30 percent with Orlov and Carlson in just over 30 minutes of play), so I understand the resistance to try something else. Anyway, the external benefits reaped from adding Jensen (plus Hagelin) were profound.
But I wonder if there’s not more possible. With Orpik unlikely to return for next season, Jensen will need a new partner and a new role. I hope that role is bigger and that partner is faster, because there’s a lot of potential here.
How should Nick Jensen be used and with whom? Would you trust him with top-four minutes?
Read more: Japers Rink
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