Maple Leafs Add Gritty Defensive Liability Ryan O'Byrne At Deadline

Woops - There Goes Another Forward Past O'Byrne - Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

So the Leafs added a defender at the deadline as requested. Unfortunately he's not good defensively. Let's look at why.

If I was to describe a player to you the following way, who would you immediately think of?

1. Played D for the Montreal Canadiens early in his career.

2. Was regularly paired with Andrei Markov while with the Habs.

3. Has led his team in hits and blocked shots.

You'd probably think I was talking about Mike Komisarek - well - ALMOST! I'm actually referring to Colorado Avalanche Defender Ryan O'Byrne... your newest turnstile operator for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs dealt a 2014 4th round draft pick to the Avs for O'Byrne, in what is an underwhelming trade to say the least. They wanted a defensive stopper to play in the top 4 but unfortunately they've added a defensive black hole to play in the top 4.

Ryan O'Byrne is bad defensively. Not a little bit bad. Very bad. How bad? Well let's review some comments from other sources - closer to his recent home with the Colorado Avalanche. The following are courtesy Jibble Scribbits - author of jibblescribbits.com - and one of my favourite follows on Twitter.

Also we have:

Ok so O'Byrne isn't very good - Avs fans want him gone... and apparently he was a healthy scratch on one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL.

He looked passable on a shut down pairing with Jan Hejda last year but this year with Greg Zanon has been abysmal. Unfortunately the reality is Hejda carried that pair and that makes sense as Hejda is one of the top shut down D men of the past decade in the NHL. Zanon was too, until he got really old... he can't carry O'Byrne anymore, and O'Byrne's (and Zanon's!) numbers reflect that fact.

Here are some basic fancy stats (courtesy behindthenet.ca) for some of you guys to consider about O'Byrne in comparison to the Leafs current crop of D men:

SEASON NAME GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT Corsi QoT Corsi On
2009-2010 Season Carl Gunnarsson 43 15.93 0.38 -0.274 5.289 -2.98
2010-2011 Season Carl Gunnarsson 68 13.86 0.19 0.187 -5.779 -4.78
2011-2012 Season Carl Gunnarsson 76 17.17 1.145 0.73 -1.838 -3.17
2012-2013 Season Carl Gunnarsson 24 17.63 0.918 0.046 -11.356 -8.93
2009-2010 Season Cody Franson 61 11.95 -1.047 0.046 3.295 12.76
2010-2011 Season Cody Franson 80 12.84 -0.673 -0.87 -2.305 2.45
2011-2012 Season Cody Franson 57 14.26 -0.698 0.389 -2.173 2.8
2012-2013 Season Cody Franson 29 13.76 -1.107 3.264 -9.414 -3.61
2009-2010 Season Dion Phaneuf 81 17.47 0.817 0.153 4.165 6.36
2010-2011 Season Dion Phaneuf 66 18.62 0.724 0.01 -6.021 -6.2
2011-2012 Season Dion Phaneuf 82 18.55 1.399 -0.043 -2.559 -0.36
2012-2013 Season Dion Phaneuf 32 18.7 1.972 -2.123 -12.86 -19.35
2009-2010 Season John-Michael Liles 59 14.25 -0.668 0.338 -10.091 -10.57
2010-2011 Season John-Michael Liles 76 16.93 0.484 0.361 -4.163 -1.49
2011-2012 Season John-Michael Liles 66 16.99 -0.192 0.212 -2.35 -0.86
2012-2013 Season John-Michael Liles 20 15.74 -0.043 1.14 -10.978 -7.24
2012-2013 Season John-Michael Liles 22 15.58 1.527 -2.31 -12.916 -27.49
2009-2010 Season Mark Fraser 61 12.14 -0.724 0.198 1.574 -0.73
2010-2011 Season Mark Fraser 26 12.57 -0.753 -0.56 3.565 5.69
2012-2013 Season Mark Fraser 29 13.56 -1.089 4.137 -8.736 -7.33
2009-2010 Season Mike Komisarek 34 16.92 0.273 2.572 8.054 12
2010-2011 Season Mike Komisarek 75 11.89 0.05 0.43 -5.323 -9.68
2011-2012 Season Mike Komisarek 45 14.68 0.046 0.682 -1.876 -7.72
2012-2013 Season Mike Kostka 27 17.46 1.057 -0.884 -12.07 -6.24
2009-2010 Season Ryan O'Byrne 55 13.71 -0.304 0.25 -6.646 -12.89
2010-2011 Season Ryan O'Byrne 67 16.96 0.888 1.309 -3.667 -8.13
2011-2012 Season Ryan O'Byrne 74 15.74 0.523 -2.179 1.569 -9.32
2012-2013 Season Ryan O'Byrne 29 15.99 0.524 0.593 -3.697 -11.52

So what's the takeaway from that chart? Well O'Byrne obviously has consistently had some of the worst Corsi results of any of those players. He's actually on average the worst defensive player by possession metrics now on the Leafs blue line. How bad is he? Well to compare D men defensively we can make use of my SDI system to compare their defensive results based on their situational difficulty. If we use his average SDI score to compare him to his new peers on the Leafs we see the following:

NAME SDI Sit SDI Res SDI Exp SDI Resid SDI Sit AVG SDI Resid AVG
Mark Fraser -0.025 -1.256 0.025 -1.281 -0.552 0.038
John-Michael Liles 0.456 -0.310 -0.376 0.066 0.061 0.003
Carl Gunnarsson 1.126 -1.092 -0.907 -0.185 0.496 -0.102
Cody Franson -0.067 -0.419 0.061 -0.480 -0.334 -0.141
Mike Kostka 1.134 -1.083 -0.915 -0.168 1.134 -0.168
Dion Phaneuf 1.664 -2.649 -1.682 -0.966 0.238 -0.250
Mike Komisarek 0.313 -0.296 -0.262 -0.035 0.419 -0.623
Jake Gardiner -0.227 -0.552 0.197 -0.748 -0.227 -0.748
Ryan O'Byrne 0.383 -1.358 -0.318 -1.040 0.422 -0.842
Korbinian Holzer 1.431 -3.339 -1.270 -2.069 1.431 -2.069

Again - he's the second worst defender on the team, even in comparison to the older Komisarek, and having played with some much superior defenders. The SDI Resid column shows their SDI Score from the most recent season I have data for - and you'll notice that the only Defenders with worse scores this year so far are Holzer and Fraser, so in essence we've added a 5th D man - that's been playing top 4 minutes.

There is really no logical way to defend adding O'Byrne beyond saying "depth" and "toughness" - but I'll basically summarize him as follows: More Of The Same. Hopefully he doesn't actually keep Jake Gardiner out of the lineup.

This is becoming a Garbage In = Garbage Out sort of system. We keep playing crappy D men and expecting solid defensive results. We're still spending a pittance on our blue line, and this move won't improve it significantly. Expect the Leafs to continue to be horribly out-shot and out-chanced defensively, and hope that Gardiner gets more of a shot at the blue line over time. Look forward to reading your comments.

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