Garnet Hathaway is probably the best defensive forward on the Caps, and he’s super under-appreciated for it. Probably because of the spitting thing.
|10.8||time on ice per game|
|53.8||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|57.5||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|54.3||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows lots of information for the player over the season. A short description of each chart:
With a depth player who is not depended on to score, it can sometimes be hard to quantify his contribution. Except with Hathaway, it’s not too tough. Below is a table of Hathaway’s most common on-ice partners, the percentage of shot attempts and expected goals possessed by the Caps when they’re on the ice, and how much better (or worse) that partner fares when with Hathaway.
Aside from infrequent minutes with Lars Eller, Hathaway has been a clearly positive influence on his teammates. His most common partner is Nic Dowd, with whom he has tremendous chemistry. The figure below from Hockey Viz tells that story as well. I’ve circled the good bits. At top right — the good quadrant — are players (in black) who do much better with Hathaway then they do without (circled at bottom left, in red).
That’s Nic Dowd and someone else whose name I cannot recall. Not important right now.
So how is Hathaway doing it? It’s not entirely clear. He isn’t carrying the puck much, he shoots more than Dowd but not much more. He’s not flashy in the offensive zone, he’s not a playmaker in the typical sense. He’s just really, really reliable in his own end. He’s arguably the best defensive forward on the team, keeping shots to the outside extremely well. Here’s opponent shots in a heatmap from Hockey Viz.
The big blue blob in front of the Washington net means other teams aren’t shooting from there much. That plus great special teams at $1.5 million through 2023 sounds excellent to me. Just, uh, no more spitting. It really bothers Ian.
What do you see in Hathaway’s game that makes him so effective? What would you like to see him add?
Read more: Japers Rink
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