Playmaking Volume 5: Seabrook Strikes Back

@RK_Stimp has a passing project that tracks the first, second, and third assists to every shot attempt this season in the NHL. Using this data, I plan on investigating and creating many visuals over the coming weeks.

I have already posted:

In volume 5 of the playmaking series utilizing the passing data, I will look at which zones that passes came from. This way I can see how many times a player made a pass from the defensive zone that led to a shot attempt. I can also look at passes from the nuetral or offensive zone  to better understand a defensemen’s tendencies.

I should clarify that the following chart isn’t necessarily a recording of stretch passes. However, it’s a recording of passes from the defensive zone that led directly to a shot attempt. Therefore, a player like Brent Seabrook could pass it to Patrick Kane who receives the pass at his own blue line, carries it pass the opponents blue line, and takes a shot. In that scenario, Seabrook didn’t necessarily convert a long stretch pass, but it still counts as a pass from the defensive zone that directly led to a shot attempt.

So with this following chart, it shows what player made the most passes out of their own zone that led directly to shot attempts. To simplify it, we will call it stretch passes. One could also think of it as transition passing. The player was in the defensive zone and made a pass that allowed the teammate to transition into the offensive zone for a shot attempt

There are three main groupings here.

  1. Elite: Keith and Seabrook have basically the same amount of transition passes from the defensive zone. 
  2. Average: Roszival, Gustafsson, and Hjalmarsson are pretty close to each other.
  3. Trail Off: The numbers of passes takes a hit with TVR and continues to drop with Daley, Scuderi, and Svedberg. Svedberg appears to really struggle with the transition or stretch pass.

Since we have the ability to look at passes from each zone, here is passes from the neutral zone that directly led to shot attempts.

  • This is where Roszival shines
  • Scuderi had zero with Chicago
  • Daley and Gustafsson would rather carry the puck into the zone rather than pass it

Now let’s look at passes from the offensive zone that led directly to shot attempts. This would probably show which player would make a good quarterback for the power play as the whole play occurs inside the offensive zone.

  • This is where players like Gustafsson and Daley shine. They have the ability to carry the zone and create some quick offense. When defensemen carry the zone it can create confusion for the opponents and opportunities for Chicago. On the other hand, drift too low or turn the puck over and it’s a 2-on-1 going the other way if a CHI forward isn’t covering for the D-man. Coach Q likes a more structured game with his defensemen staying back and making passes rather than skating with the puck and taking chances. This is why Daley and Gustafsson were usually in the doghouse this year.
  • This was the one zone were Seabrook was near the bottom. Maybe he is looking to shoot more than he is looking to pass in the offensive zone. Maybe his passing skills are not as good in traffic as they are with more open ice.
  • Hjalmarsson is second last and trails Scuderi.
  • Maybe this was a problem for Chicago. Two of their top three defensemen were bad at creating offense in the offensive zone. With the loss of Sharp, Saad, Versteeg, and Vermette, maybe Chicago needed a little more creativity from their D in the offensive zone.
  • Hjalmarsson is a defensive defensemen and his role isn’t creating offense, but still one would think Hjalmarsson and Seabrook would produce more in the offensive zone than Robby Scuderi.

For fun, I used the total number of passes to show percentage of passes for each player by zone.

  • Seabrook mostly created offense outside of the offensive zone
  • Roszival had the highest percentage in the neutral zone
  • Daley and Gustafsson produce the most offense in the offensive zone
  • Scuderi and Svedberg don’t really produce offense, so their percentages are somewhat meaningless.

My three biggest takeaways

  1. I was surprised at how good Seabrook was at the transition or stretch passes from the defensive zone. Seabrook had a rough season defensively and I often watched him dump the puck out of his own zone or ice the puck. Even his even strength scoring rate was down this season. He did take Patrick Sharp’s spot on the top power play unit and the extra power play time helped him put up some numbers. It was good to see Seabrook perform well in something. However, I do think he needs to work on his passing in the offensive zone. He was one of the worst as evidenced by Rob Scuderi creating more offense than him in the offensive zone
  2. Geez can Gustafsson create in the offensive zone. But as we noticed, his transition game left more to be desired. To get into Q’s good graces, he needs to work on skating less and passing more, Gus and Seabrook should basically work together and teach each other their passing skills. Gustafsson’s being in the offensive zone and Seabrook’s being in the neutral and defensive zones. I like Gustafsson a lot. His assist rate, shot generation, and offensive zone creativity numbers are some of the best not only on the Blackhawks, but in the entire league. If he can cut back on the reckless plays and improve his D, he could become a quality 4th defensemen.
  3. I mentioned it earlier, but the lack of creativity by the D in the offensive zone was interesting. A team simply can’t have their second and third best defensemen produce less passing offense than Rob Scuderi in the offensive zone. That’s something the team should investigate and attempt to correct.

I hope you enjoyed this look at playmaking by zones. I found it to be one of my more interesting works.