Aaron Rome signed a PTO with Norfolk Wednesday to improve the defense. Where does he fit in?
I had that thought earlier when I heard the news about the signing. Rome is not a flashy pickup and sort of reminds me of Ryan Parent. NHL vet, doesn’t put up huge offensive numbers, and seen at least as a stopgap. Finding the right person to pair him with is a tricky situation given the small sample size of games played.
I decided to do some simple math and do the most basic of advanced stats. I went with On-Ice GF%. On-Ice GF% is determined by dividing the total number of goals their team scores while on the ice divided by the total number of goals, both for and allowed, on the ice. A number closer to 100% indicates the player is most likely better at driving scoring. Players on the ice for more goals tend to play more than players on the ice for fewer goals, or events. The AHL could have better advanced stats if they release things they already track like time on ice. Instead, it’s left to some mathematical estimation. I present to you this chart:
Clicking should make it larger.
In the few games so far, Jarrod Skalde has typically relied on these pairings:
Kevin Gagne-Mat Clark
Brendan Bell-Josh Manson
Andrew O’Brien-Nathan McIver/Jesse Blacker
Kevin Gagne and Mat Clark make up the top pairing and have been on the ice for 8 and 9 goals, respectively. Without context, I can’t explain if they were all on the same pairing. For the most part, Clark and Gagne were on the ice at the same time. The problem, to me, lies with Clark. Gagne at least has fits in on the power play and can contribute some offensively. Clark can’t do that. What’s worse is when he is on the ice with Jesse Blacker.
Blacker is by far the worst defenseman on the team. While he did play forward in his last outing, he has no positive even strength events to speak about. He should be immediately eliminated from the lineup unless it’s an emergency.
Brendan Bell and Josh Manson have been a successful second pairing. They’re both positive possession players and have only one even-strength mark against the pair. I would not break up this pairing whatsoever.
Norfolk’s third pairing, Nathan McIver and Andrew O’Brien, should stay together as well. AOB is particularly impressive. In his short time this year, he has been on the ice for six even-strength goal events. Four of them have been positive. McIver, who was brought in for his PIMs as much as his defense, has no even-strength marks against him and two positive events. Skalde and the coaching staff decided to sit McIver for the second game for whatever reason. That didn’t go well.
My intention here should be obvious. I think Mat Clark-as beloved as he is-should sit. He has yet to truly distinguish himself as a defenseman and has been unreliable in his own zone, it seems. Unlike Kevin Gagne, he can’t rely on inexperience. Mat Clark has been around professional hockey for a few years now. He should be looking to improve.
Aaron Rome is left-handed, which should not discourage the coaching staff. I believe he should be paired with Kevin Gagne while keeping the other pairings the same. This might make Bell-Manson the top pairing, and I think they’re up to it. I’m not sure if the coaching staff should dole out more minutes to AOB and McIver. They’ve been great in their limited minutes so far. However, AOB may be in need of more minutes given his positive play in the early going.
What is to be noted is that these goals are not necessarily all one player’s fault. Yet, there is proof that some players should probably not be in the lineup. Sitting Mat Clark-a leadership player-would likely cause ripples. A move like that may be needed.