Red Wings’ Chiarot Is Not the Best Defense Partner for Seider

The Hockey Writers

Moritz Seider is a phenom of a defensive specimen. He’s built like a tank, hits like a freight train, and made his presence felt in his Calder Trophy-winning season as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. But the one question on everyone’s mind is: can he get even better?

The easy answer is always “we’ll see”, but I firmly believe that his progression in the league will largely depend on whoever accompanies him on the left flank. His partners last year were predominately lackluster, with the odd boat anchor thrown in.

Last Year’s Seider

Seider played the second most even-strength minutes on the Detroit Red Wings’ blue line behind Filip Hronek. Additionally, 45 percent of his zone starts were in the offensive zone (OZ%), the most defensive-minded deployment on the team.

Moritz Seider Player Usage Chart
Moritz Seider Player Usage Chart (Dobber Hockey Frozen Tools)

As seen above, Seider played the hardest quality of competition (high up on the chart), and maintained the third-best Corsi for percentage (CF%) on the team (blue bubble), while amassing the most points from the Red Wings’ blue line.

A good benchmark for an effective defenceman is 50%. Seider being third on the team with a sub-50% CF illustrates just how bad the Red Wings’ defensemen were last year. CF% is simply how many more shot attempts did they have in comparison to the other team when they were on the ice. 

Moritz Seider Detroit Red Wings
Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Seider’s Goals For Percentage (GF%) on the other hand was an even 50%. GF% is the percentage of total goals while that player is on the ice that are for that player’s team. This is encouraging, especially in light of the 45 OZ%. If you were to give one metric more weight than another, I’d give it to the GF%. Limiting shots against your own goalie is important, limiting goals is more important.

Related: Red Wings Predicting Moritz Seider’s Future Based on Rookie Season

If you look at the big picture, it’s hard not to be excited that a rookie defenseman who scored 50 points is also not a defensive liability. Of course, there is always room to grow, and it doesn’t hurt to have a defensively responsible partner to cover any mistakes made. Let’s take a look at a couple of long shots that could be paired with this stalwart.

The Long Shots

Robert Hagg is a third-pair defenseman at best. But let’s entertain our curiosities and see how he did last year, and then speculate how he might fair paired with Seider. He split his time between the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers last season. Since he spent most of his time with the Panthers, we’ll look at his numbers there.

Robert Hagg Usage
Robert Hagg Usage (Dobber Frozen Tools)

The Panthers were outshot and outscored while Hagg was on the ice. His lack of offensive zone starts didn’t help (44 percent) but Ben Chiarot, Gustav Forsling, MacKenzie Weegar, and Aaron Ekblad all faced tougher competition and faired much better. Of the nine defencemen who skated for the Panthers last season, Hagg had the worst CF% at 46.7%. He also achieved that with the third least amount of even strength time on ice.

The more likely of the two long shots, Jordan Oesterle spent time paired with Seider last season. In 308 minutes played the Red Wings scored 13 goals and had eight goals against. The 47.7 CF% raises concern, but the positive GF% makes you wonder what’s going on. It’s tough to know exactly without a larger sample size, but the GF% is a reason for positivity.

Moritz Seider Player Usage Chart
Moritz Seider Player Usage Chart (Dobber Hockey Frozen Tools)

Looking at the whole season, Oesterle was a respectable defenceman in his 45 games played. His GF% and CF% were sub-50. His CF% was fourth on the team (right behind Seider) out of eight defencemen, so he’s not a liability compared to the rest of the team.

The Top Candidates

Ben Chiarot was acquired this past offseason to lessen the defensive load on Seider. The data set we will look at for Chiarot will be from his time with the Panthers, the same chart we looked at for Hagg.

Ben Chiarot Usage
Ben Chiarot Usage (Dobber Frozen Tools)

Chiarot faced tougher competition than Seider with less favorable results. He had a similar OZ start percentage as Seider while playing a whole minute more on average at even strength. Chiarot’s CF% was better than Seider’s, but relative to the Panthers, only Hagg and Matt Kiersted had a worse Corsi differential.

However, Chiarot had a 42.74 GF% with the Panthers. This means that the Panthers were outscored by him on the ice at 5-on-5. A negative CF% AND GF% is not a good thing. He would need to be paired with someone with stronger CF% and GF% numbers in order to be more effective at preventing shots on his goaltender.

Olli Maatta Usage
Olli Maatta Usage (Dobber Frozen Tools)

Olli Maatta was another off-season addition who played 66 games last season for the Los Angeles Kings. At first blush, the orange bubble might be concerning, but the colour of the bubble is Maatta’s Corsi relative to his team. Seven other rearguards had a better Corsi than him, which is impressive because his CF% was 52.81. Had he played for the Red Wings, he would have been second to Olli Juolevi, who only played 18 games.

Maatta had more offensive zone starts than defensive zone starts, a positive CF%, and a positive Goals For percentage. He also achieved that in one minute less than Seider. All of these things are great signs that pairing Maatta with Seider is a better idea than pairing him with Chiarot.

Maatta Over Chiarot

If the coaches want to unlock the offensive potential in Seider, pairing him with Maatta and giving them at least 50 percent of the offensive zone starts is the way to go. Regardless of the quality of the competition, Seider has done well thus far and could rely on Maatta to bring a positive impact on the ice and make up for any defensive inconsistencies in his own game.

Olli Maatta Los Angeles Kings
Olli Maatta, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In a perfect world, you have two players like Maatta, one to play with Seider and one to play with Chiarot. Seider is a cornerstone of this franchise and should be given every opportunity to succeed. Pairing him with Maatta this season would be the best way to do that.

Seider should play with someone who can help him elevate his game. Someone who doesn’t also need a defensive specialist to boost them up. Should Chiarot play with Seider? It doesn’t Maatta, Olli should be the guy.

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