Is Bryan Allen better than Tim Gleason?

With Carolina in sell mode this year, one guy who appears to be a on a lot of teams wish lists is our rugged blue-liner Tim Gleason, and why wouldn’t a playoff contender want someone like Gleason? He plays over 20 minutes a night against the toughest competition, isn’t afraid to get physical with the opposition and has a cap hit of only $2.75 million. Gleason brings a lot to the table for not much money and is a pending unrestricted free agent so he could be a great addition to any team that’s looking to add some blue-line depth but one guy who I feel is getting overlooked is his frequent defense partner Bryan Allen. In fact, you could make a case that Allen has, in fact, outperformed Gleason in some areas and would be also be a great addition to a team looking to make a final push towards the playoffs. The question is how much better is Allen than Gleason and what is he worth to the Canes?

Find out after the jump

Allen and Gleason both have similar games in the sense that they are defensive defensemen who are mainly known for their work in their own and never put up that many points. These two have been stellar in their roles, though as they have been very effective as a defense pairing and have played better than just about any unit that Carolina has put together. We all know how well Allen/Gleason are together but a good question is how have they performed apart from each other. To figure this out, we’re going to look at a WOWY (With Or Without You) chart, which shows how x player performed with and without y player on the ice. Gleason’s numbers without Allen are pretty jarring. 

Aside from McBain, Faulk and Kaberle, every defenseman was better when Allen was on the ice and Gleason’s play improved dramatically when he was paired with Allen. Going by this, it appears that Allen is the stud of the defense corps and should be valued more than Gleason but that’s overlooking a few things. Remember, Kirk Muller bumped Allen down to the third defense pairing during his first couple of weeks here and he received some heavily protected minutes which probably boosted his possession numbers a bit. Gleason, on the other hand, has played on the first pairing and played against the opposing team’s top lines all season long. There is probably a steeper learning curve for him as he’s worked with a few different partners this year, so looking at scoring chances by defense pairing might give us a better idea of who should be valued more.

Pairing CF CA % GF GA
Spacek/Allen 29 22 0.569 2 1
Allen/Gleason 114 99 0.535 14 13
McBain/Gleason 53 48 0.525 7 7
Harrison/Kaberle 54 49 0.524 5 5
Allen/Joslin 15 14 0.517 0 4
McBain/Spacek 15 14 0.517 6 4
McBain/Joslin 21 22 0.488 2 4
McBain/Pitkanen 52 55 0.486 10 13
McBain/Kaberle 17 18 0.486 3 1
Faulk/Harrison 90 98 0.479 12 9
McBain/Allen 11 18 0.379 4 4
Joslin/Kaberle 9 16 0.360 2 3
Gleason/Faulk 12 25 0.324 1 2
Gleason/Harrison 7 18 0.280 1 4

CF = chances for, CA = chances against, % = Scoring chance percentage, GF = goals for, GA = goals against

Unsurprisingly, Allen and Gleason have been Carolina’s best tough minutes defense pairing but Gleason and McBain also played very well together. You will notice that Allen makes up three of Carolina’s top five defense pairings going by scoring chances but this is where we run into an issue. Whenever Allen is NOT paired with Gleason, he is playing on the third pairing with someone like Jaro Spacek or Derek Joslin and getting sheltered minutes so it’s hard to compare Allen’s number without Gleason because he’s playing in completely different situations. The coaching staff clearly trusts Gleason a lot more than they do Allen but does that mean he is a better player and should be valued more? We can’t say because Allen hasn’t played in tough minute situations when not paired with Gleason. This is where Carolina runs into a problem if they choose to trade Gleason but keep Allen because the coaching staff hasn’t trusted Allen with the tough minutes away from Gleason yet.

I feel that both defensemen should be held at a pretty high value for the Canes because they have been our best defense pairing by a longshot and with a few teams needing defensemen, Gleason and Allen would be great additions to any team. However, Allen’s value to other teams will probably be a lot lower than it is to the Hurricanes as they would have him as a third pairing defenseman instead of a guy who plays 20+ minutes a night in tough situations so the Canes may end up selling him short if they do trade him.

Carolina has a lot of defensive prospects in their pipeline and there are going to be a lot of open spots in training camp next season, so it might be wise for the team to hang onto one of Allen or Gleason with the team needing defensive d-men, but getting a great return for a player at the trade deadline is never a bad thing either. Personally, I think it would be a good idea to hang onto Allen because re-signing him shouldn’t cost that much and, as I mentioned earlier, his value to other teams probably isn’t very high so instead of trading him for nothing, the Canes can keep him for another year as a stop-gap until their other defensemen prospects are ready for the NHL.