Monday, January 23, 2012

Hal Gill: By the Numbers

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill will most-likely be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The 36-year-old giant has seen his even-strength ice-time drop significantly under Randy Cunneyworth. The chances of Gill being moved to a playoff-bound team seem more and more likely with each passing game.

Gill has already nearly equalled his offensive output from last season, and is on pace for his largest point-total since the 2007-08 season. Obviously, this is nothing more than an interesting tidbit, but worth mentioning none-the-less.

Gill has the second-lowest overall grade (69) among Canadiens defensemen this season; equalling rookies Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz. Thankfully, his incredible work killing penalties has carried his overall risk/reward rating (1.38) to sixth-best among defensemen who played with the Habs this season; equalling the team average (1.38).

At even-strength, Gill has the 5th-best risk/reward rating among defensemen (1.37). As expected his best rating comes from his work in the defensive-zone. His overall even-strength ratio of 2.17 successful plays for every 1 mistake or lost puck-battle is slightly better than the team-average of 2.02.

His offensive-zone risk/reward rating (0.13) at even-strength is better than both Yannick Weber and Raphael Diaz, and just below Emelin's. Understandably, his o-zone ratio of 1.58 successful plays for every 1 mistake or lost puck-battle is lower than the team-average of 1.63.

In the defensive-zone, Gill has the fifth-best risk/reward rating (0.97) while playing at even-strength. Substantially better than Weber, Emelin, Diaz and Frederic St. Denis, and just slightly below Josh Gorges. His d-zone ratio of 2.18 is slightly better than the team average of 2.13.

His neutral-zone risk/reward rating (0.26) is seventh-best among the team's d-men. Lower than Emelin, Gorges, Tomas Kaberle, Chris Campoli and PK Subban, but better than Weber and Diaz. His neutral-zone ratio is 2.95 successful plays for every 1 mistake or lost puck-battle, and is well above the team-average.

The only player with more short-handed ice-time than Gill is Gorges. Among defensemen with substantial PK minutes, only Raphael Diaz has a better short-handed risk/reward than Gill's rating of 1.14. Gill has the most successful short-handed dump-outs, the second-most blocked shots, and the second-most blocked passes. He's recovered the second-most loose-pucks in the defensive-zone, and has won the most short-handed puck-battles.

Gill has the fourth-best success-rate (72%) among defensemen when engaging in plays that require him to remove or acquire puck-possession from the opposition. Plays within this category include puck-battles, blocked-shots, and blocked passes, etc. He has the eighth-best success-rate (66%) among d-men when engaging in plays that require him to maintain puck-possession. These plays included pass-attempts, etc.

Hal Gill's greatest strength is his work killing-penalties. He is a huge part of the reason the Canadiens have the top penalty-killing success-rate in the NHL. If the end is coming for Gill in Montreal, the likely trading partner will be a playoff-bound team with a struggling penalty-killing unit. The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks showed during last-year's playoffs that a dominating PK unit is not necessary for playoff success. That said, a struggling PK unit is a recipe for an early playoff exit.

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