A Closer Look at the Hurricanes Defense

I’ve done some analysis on the Hurricanes defense this off-season by looking at things like goal-causing errors and the type of competition they have received but another thing I have been planning on doing is looking at how much each defenseman was used throughout the season and what impact the trades for Bryan Allen, Ian White and Derek Joslin had in terms of ice-time and other things. The quality of competition and zone start data is nice, but the biggest issue I have with that is the data is shown for the entire season instead of just the time they spend with one team. For instance, the data on Behind The Net for Ian White counts for his time in Calgary, Carolina AND San Jose, and it’s kind of hard to judge his usage or performance that way. To fix that, I looked at every Hurricanes’ defenseman’s even strength, powerplay and shorthanded ice-time and graphed it by game to show how their roles may have changed over-time and what kind of impact some of the newcomers had this season. Ben from Arctic Ice Hockey did this project with a few teams during the summer and I though it would be a good idea to do it with the Hurricanes. I pretty much did the same method as him where I graphed each player’s ice-time using polynomial trendlines and I divided their time on ice by 24 to make it easier to read on the graph. Also to make the graph’s more legible, I broke down the defensemen groups into two different parts: Mainstays and Movers. Mainstays are players whose ice-time stayed consistent throughout the season (think Joni Pitkanen or Joe Corvo) while movers are ones whose ice-time changed over-time or were traded before the end of the season (Babchuk, White). Let’s get the ball rolling here, shall we?

TOI: 1 = 24:00, 0.75 = 18:00, .5 = 12:00, .25 = 6:00

Even Strength:

Full-size image.

Told ya it would be difficult to read. You can see how Harrison saw his role change towards the end of the season, though. Maybe that’s hinting that he will be taking on some tougher minutes next season? We know that he’s a great defensive third-pairing guy but I really want to see how he does when he’s tested more, especially with how Gleason’s play appears to be declining.

Even Strength Mainstays:


Check out how McBain’s role slowly got bigger as the season went on and it appeared to go up around the time that Babchuk left. Pitkanen sure logged some big-time minutes towards the middle of the season, he usually led the team in ice-time nightly which shouldn’t surprise anyone. There seemed to be a point where his ice-time decreased towards the end of the year, though and Corvo seemed to mimic that pattern. Also, to bring up Harrison again, look at how his minutes increased while Gleason’s took a bit of a fall towards the end of the season.

Even Strength Movers:


Ian White was kind of thrown right into the fire when he first joined the team but his minutes got smaller as time went on and he was eventually traded after putting up underwhelming numbers. Plus, McBain was playing around the same minutes and cost a lot less so White was dealt for Derek Joslin as a result. Joslin was slowly trusted with more minutes and ended the season getting around 14-15 minutes per night. Allen, on the other hand got about 14-15 minutes at even strength per night when he was first acquired and ended the season in that area. I had higher expectations for him, though.



Corvo’s powerplay time’s a little less consistent than I thought it would be, especially for a team who led the league in powerplay opportunities like Carolina did. Him and Pitkanen reguarly got the most minutes throughout the season, though which shouldn’t surprise anyone. What does surprise me is that McBain had more minutes on the PP than White did. McBain is a puck-mover and a damn solid one at that but White is usually known for being a “all-around” defenseman so I thought he would get more minutes than a rookie but McBain was pretty impressive when it came to delivering offense from the blue-line. You can also see Joslin taking over for White’s time on the powerplay.

Powerplay Mainstays:

Really interesting to see how much McBain’s ice-time on the powerplay increased compared to Corvo’s being a roller coaster for most of the season. Pitkanen’s was much more consistent but Corvo appeared to get more minutes when the team had a lot of man-up advantages. Neither Gleason or Harrison were used on the powerplay a lot, understandably.

Powerplay Movers:

You know what this is by now.

Not too much to say here except that Babchuk’s wasn’t really needed as the team already had Pitkanen and Corvo and McBain to move the puck and provide offense from the back-end so he became expandable.



Ian White’s spike in ice-time kind of screws up the graph but it’ll look better once we break things down. Where’s Babchuk? He didn’t kill penalties enough for me to graph him here. His trendline would blend in with the x-axis.

Shorthanded Mainstays:


Similar to the even strength ice-time, Harrison’s increased a lot towards the end of the season and he even over-took Gleason at one point, which is really surprising but good for the team’s future if he can improve his work on the PK. Also, remember how I said that someone is going to take over Corvo’s time on the penalty kill next season? Well, here’s more evidence for that, and my confidence isn’t too high when looking at this graph or the next one. Although, if Harrison improves more than I expect him to then things might be different.

Shorthanded Movers:

White’s tendline is kind of misleading because of that peak around 51 games, he really didn’t play that much on the PK in the grand scheme of things in Carolina. Allen and Joslin had roughtly the same minutes and I’m hoping Allen takes on a bigger role next season because we really need one of these defensemen to play a bigger role on the PK next season to take over for Corvo. Also, Joslin and Allen were frequently partners on the Canes last season if the trendlines didn’t make that obvious.

There’s a lot of things Maurice can do to fill-in Corvo’s spot on the penalty kill next season. Should we let Allen play more minutes like he did in Florida or has his play dropped enough that other guys should get a look? I’m also really excited to see what Harrison can do this year. No other defensive defensemen were brought in and his role got bigger as the season went on so I would expect for that to continue into next season. Like I said, Gleason’s not getting any younger and he was carrying a lot of the defense on his shoulders last season when it came to playing the shut-down role and his numbers really show that. Another good question would be who the odd-man out is at the start of the year. Seven defenseman and only six spots available for opening night. Interested to see how that position battle turns out.