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Something In The Way: C.I.’s ’15-’16 Season Preview – Trevor Daley

Oh you’ve probably been waiting for this one.

If earlier today we previewed the Hawks player with the least amount of questions about his upcoming season, this would be the one that quite possibly would have the most. The d-man taking Johnny Oduya’s place, without having really any of Oduya’s game (though some people still seem to think he does, which I can only assume is because they’re both black). The biggest piece gotten in return for Patrick Sharp (unless you think CatButt can do a whole lot from the 4th line). But if the defense allergic Stars were so happy to include Daley in this deal, doesn’t that give one pause?

Last Season (with Dallas): 68 games, 16 goals, 22 assists, 38 points, -13, 34 PIM, 46.1% Corsi Percentage (-9.1% Relative), 50.3% Corsi Competition

The first thing that’s going to jump out at people is the 16 goals from the blue line. Needless to say, the Hawks haven’t had anyone really capable of those kinds of fireworks from the blue line in forever. However, Trevor Daley isn’t really capable of it either, at least not again. It was seven goals over his career high, and nine of those goals came on the power play. At even-strength, Daley had a 10.1% shooting-percentage, which is simply unheard of from a d-man. His overall shooting percentage was 14.1%, which is probably beyond unheard of from a position where almost all shots come from the blue line. It’s more than double his career average of 6.5%. So yeah, expecting him to do double that up again is pure folly. The 22 assists were also a career high, though only by one from his previous. That he might be able to manage again as there’s deeper scoring talent on the Hawks than the one-line Stars last year.

But the offensive end isn’t the worry, is it? Daley simply got clocked in possession, as the Stars weren’t a bad possession team last year. And that’s been most years with Daley in reality, save for the ’13-’14 season where he was actually above water for once.

There are a couple caveats, though how big they are I can’t really tell you. One, Daley was playing top pairing minutes against the stiffest competition the Stars saw from night to night, and in no world should that ever, ever happen. Secondly, he was paired with Alex Goligoski, who really is nothing more than a second pairing possession driver who plays something of a similar game to what Daley would also like to do. Needless to say it wasn’t hard to get behind these two when they were both caught up the ice.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Goligoski was markedly better when he was moved away from Daley, by some 10% in Corsi in fact. So was just about every player who spent significant time with Daley at all, seeing their possession numbers rise anywhere from 6-10 percent when they can escape his ball-and-chain form.

Outlook: Hoo boy. In an ideal world, Daley could be the pusher on a third pairing, become a pretty good bum-slayer if he’s got a solid center fielder behind him. I’m not convinced the Hawks think that though. If you squint you could see where he and Jan-Hejda or even Svedberg could form that. But I fear there’s going to be a desperation to justify his acquisition for fan favorite Sharp and he’s going to see second pairing minutes. And that would be a big problem.

Daley is really only just this side of a disaster in his own zone. If you didn’t like Nick Leddy’s defensive game…

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He’s easily knocked off the puck. His positioning at times can look reminiscent of a drunken bro searching for a cab on Clark St. at 3am. His pinches at the other blue line can get ill-advised. There’s going to be a lot of odd-man rushes the other way if Daley is asked to do too much.

I can see a scenario where Daley thrives, if the pairings are laid out something like 2-57, 4-7, 6-Hejda. But that’s going to involve TVR proving he can handle even second pairing minutes and isn’t a construction horse out there after two major leg injuries in the span of one year. It’s going to involve Hejda making the team. It’s going to involve Q not shooting David Rundblad in the face.

That’s a lot of things that need to happen. Prepare to duck.

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