The Blackhawks have some new shiny toys on the backend in Brian Campbell, Michal Kempny, & Gustav Forsling. This has immediately resulted in Trevor Van Riemsdyk becoming the Blackhawks fan honorary whipping boy. This leads to the question of how good TVR actually is.
Last season, TVR put up numbers comparable to a quality third pairing defensive defensemen. He was first on the team in limiting opponents scoring chances and second best to Hjalmarsson in terms of opponents shot quality. What does this mean? When TVR was on the ice last season, opponents were not getting to the net that often, opponents weren’t getting that many quality chances, & opponents weren’t expected to score much when TVR was on the ice. Now TVR does have his problems. He is very limited offensively. He is not a puck mover. He doesn’t help generate shots. So pairing him with a mobile, puck mover is optimal.
In the end, TVR was a quality 3rd pairing defensemen last season that was forced to play in the top-4 because of CHI lack of depth. He’s not good enough to play 20 minutes a night. Last night with Hjalmarsson out, TVR was on the top pairing with Duncan Keith and performed poorly. TVR is a third pairing defensemen and should not be on the top pairing and playing against STL’s top line. He’s a third pairing defensemen. TVR wasn’t good playing his off-side on the second pairing with Seabrook because TVR isn’t a second pairing defensemen. When TVR played the proper role last season, he put up good numbers.
TVR has a somewhat similar playing style to Niklas Hjalmarsson in that they are both defensive defensemen and limited offensively. Obviously Hjalmarsson is a top pairing defensive defensemen and TVR is a third pairing defensemen. I’m not trying to say they are on the same planet as far as talent. All I’m saying is both play a non-flashy, defensive focused style of game. TVR is not the type of player that will make amazing passes or dangle around the ice. He’s not going to light up the “eye test”. What he is going to do is play quality defense and a low event game when he’s in a third pairing role.
Last season, TVR was forced into playing a role he wasn’t talented enough to play and will never be talented enough to play. Svedberg, an AHL talent and Rozsival, a 7th defensemen all had to play top-6 defensemen minutes. TVR had to play top-4 minutes. Chicago’s depth caused players to play roles above their talent level. This season, with the additions of Campbell, Kempny, & Forsling, TVR should be able to now play his natural role on the team as a third pairing defensemen. I’m not trying to advocate that TVR is better than Forsling or Kempny, I just trying to point out that TVR is a competent third pairing defensemen. Even if he slots in at the 7th defensemen this season, that’s good. CHI now has the defensive depth where a quality, third pairing defensemen is going to sit. I’m not saying TVR should or shouldn’t sit. All I’m saying is that TVR is a quality, 3rd pairing defensive defensemen.
And I’m not saying all this to attract attention or because I personally really like TVR and am therefore biased towards him. I try to remove all bias when analyzing hockey. That’s why Stats are so great. It helps a person remove emotional bias and eye test bias when analyzing a player. So when I give my opinion on a player, it’s based off statistical evidence. I don’t just throw out wild accusations, I try not to make broad assumptions off a couple games. I examine all the evidence, the whole body of work, and I try to illustrate to the reader what to reasonably expect from a player and what that players overall talent level is.
Remember, I never said TVR is better than Kempny or Forsling. I never said TVR should be playing every game on the third pairing. I’m saying TVR has shown the talent level of being a quality third pairing defensive defensemen.