With the news just dropping that Johnny Oduya is also going to be seeing Dallas regularly from a DC-9 at night, it’s probably high time we take a look at what is now his replacement, Trevor Daley.
Before we do that, a final word on Oduya’s departure. Up until Saad’s trade, I really had no hope that Oduya would be returning. And not much of a desire for it either. The Hawks had squeezed out what has to be almost all of his plus-play the past couple years, he’s 34 and there are limits to what he gives you. While he would have been a great place-holder while Johns learned the ropes and up until Johns took his role, I didn’t think that was completely necessary.
But then Johns was dealt, and in came Daley, and as you’re about to see playing Daley in the top four has the potential to be a real, real problem. The sanctuary of the known that Oduya provides suddenly seemed very reassuring. And now we’re about to be tossed into a pretty choppy sea with no guarantee of port.
5′ 11″ 195 lbs, 31 years old, $3.3 Million
As you probably know by now, last year was not kind to Trevor. Which is weird to say about someone who blew their career highs in goals and points out of the water. Daley potted 16 goals when he had never managed more than nine in a season, and 38 points when he’d never had more than 27. Even the 22 assists were a career high. However, as you probably know by now when you see this kind of spike, it has something to do with things out of Daley’s control. So that 14.6 shooting-percentage would be the blinking red light, as it’s over twice his career average. Reduced to just even-strength and Daley shot 10% which is outlandish for a d-man. Fucking Erik Karlsson shot just 7.6% last year at evens, and that’s just a touch above average for him.
When you get into the possession stats, it gets pretty damn ugly. Daley managed just a 45.9% share last year, which was almost 10% behind the team rate (Dallas was actually a pretty good possession team last season undone by their goaltending). Adjust it for score and it doesn’t really get any better. The previous season, Lindy Ruff’s first full season in Dallas, Daley was actually ahead of the team rate with an overall percentage of 51.8%. What’s really alarming about last season, or one of the thing that’s really alarming, is that Daley actually got the better of it in terms of zone starts, with a +2.2 relative to the team. He didn’t the year before, so that’s somewhat encouraging.
Going back through his career, it’s kind of the same story as he dragged behind the team’s piss poor possession stats, playing bigger minutes and against tougher competition than he could handle on a bad Stars team.
Yes, Daley and his usual partner Alex Goligoski faced the stiffest competition there was, and neither one of them should be doing that. Additionally, they’re a really odd pairing because both are rush type d-men and there would seem to be a lack of balance between them.
However, what scares the utter piss out of me is when you get into Daley’s WOWYs. He spent the most time with Goligoski, and when together they had a 47.3 share. However, when they were apart, and Goligoski had three times as much time without Daley as he did with, Goligoski’s Corsi percentage leapt up eight percent to a near dominant 55.1. Meanwhile, Daley’s got worse without Goligoski, down to 44.7.
It’s kind of the same story up and down the lineup. Daley played with Jokipakka almost as much as he did with Goligoski, and Jokipakka’s Corsi jumped six percent without Daley. Jason Demers saw his go up eight percent. Jamie Benn, the forward Daley was most behind, saw his GO UP 11%. Cody Eakin (whom the Hawks really should have been targeting) saw his go up 5%.
The story is kind of the same the previous year. Goligoski was better away from Daley, though at least that season Daley was better away from Goligoski as well. Two years ago Daley spent most of his time with the rotting corpse of Stephane Robidas, and they got shelled together to the tune of a 39.1 share. And then Robidas’s share jumped 12% away from Daley, though Daley’s jumped 10% away from Robidas.
So clearly, there are some issues. Watching Daley, and he’s a player I’ve always liked to watch which might come as a shock to you, he’s already going to be the most aggressive Hawks d-man Opening Night. He never, ever turns down a chance to get up and join the forwards, though not always the right choice leaving a ton of space behind him.
However, this narrative that he’s similar to Oduya and they were the same player before Oduya got to Chicago and received Q’s Magic Dust is bordering on utter bullshit. Remember, Oduya was an Olympian in 2010. He was a dominant possession player in New Jersey (aided by their shot-suppression ways, admittedly) who suffered along with the Thrashers and Jets when they were simply terrible. Oduya bested a 54% share in New Jersey three times, and Daley has never even dreamed of getting there. Oduya also came with an already polished defensive game, whereas Daley shows up with one that has vomit stains corroding every inch of it.
Yes, Daley has never played with a partner of either Hammer’s or Seabrook’s quality, the two partners that make the most sense (which is why you can expect him with Keith to start the season, or Rundblad and you’re EKG will flatline by Halloween). They’re certainly more in line with what Daley needs out of a partner than Goligoski. But the problem is it’s obvious that Daley needs to be sheltered in terms of zone starts and competition, and that’s hard to do on a top four unless Q is going to pair Hammer and Keith and basically turn them into a hockey version of The Suicide Squad, taking every defensive zone start and hardest competition possible. That’s also not going to ease an minutes burden after the spring’s run to glory, and both 2 and 4 could be a fucking puddle by the time March rolls around.
This isn’t to say Daley has no hope. If any of the Hawks free safety d-man can provide him the cover he needs (and they’re going to have to be Ed Reed back there) he certainly can make things happen in the offensive zone. If Q can somehow straighten out his defensive zone game (and he did this with Brian Campbell when he had no choice) then he could be more effective. But you are not going to like the process along the way. Daley runs around, chases the puck, can get overpowered because he’s just not that big, and his awareness in his own zone can sometimes look like that kid who played right field on your little league team. He’s like a good curry, exciting at both ends.