For awhile now, Adam Pelech has seen his stock rise as one of the key defenseman on a solid Islanders’ defense.
Pelech, 26, has emerged as one of the cornerstones on the Isles’ blue line who they hope is here for the next decade. And he’s only continued to get better under head coach Barry Trotz’s defensive system.
But recognition from around the NHL has been hard to come by as opposed to what Isles’ fans, his teammates and coaches already know about the Toronto native. That being he is one of, if not, the most underrated and under appreciated defenders in the league.
Just maybe though, that narrative is beginning to change.
Yesterday, Bryce Chevallier, who is a data scientist and does hockey analytics for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, sent out a series of tweets talking about analytics from his site architecte-hockey.com. One of the tweets included a list of the top-five defensive players in the NHL over the last three seasons (2017-2020). At the top of it was Pelech.
Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar, Washington’s Nick Jensen, Boston’s Charlie McAvoy and Toronto’s Travis Dermott rounded the rest of the group.
Part 3: The top defensive players over the last 3 years.
In this case, defence is measured by chance suppression weighted by direct contributions such as rush defence, forechecking and takeaways in key areas of play pic.twitter.com/brQ9NzZEJT
— Bryce Chevallier (L’Architecte) (@FauxCentre) November 18, 2020
Chevallier noted that the rankings consulted from defense being measured by chance suppression weighted by direct contributions such as rush defence, forechecking and takeaways in key areas of play.
I’m no analytics guy — far from it — but it seems all those fancy stats show just how much Pelech has evolved.
And yes he’s evolved more than anyone could have imagined.
There was a time when former Isles g.m. Garth Snow was ridiculed for protecting Pelech in the expansion draft so that the Vegas Golden Knights couldn’t steal him away. Even more to that, Pelech was struggling and scratched a number of times during Trotz’s first year behind the bench. You look back on it now and those two moments feel like they were a long time ago. When in reality, it’s only been about three years.
Pelech’s transformation can be easily spotted when you watch him play now. All you have to do is go back and watch the mastery he’s pulled off the last two postseasons where he shut down Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin. Pretty impressive list, no?
Still, the attention paid towards him doesn’t even come close. That could change now.
Besides Chevallier’s analysis, Pelech has probably the best contract in the league for a top d-man. He’s due for a nice raise next offseason, and by all accounts he will get his bag. Plus at 26 Pelech hasn’t even reach his prime yet.
Now that he’s coming off another impressive season, one which saw him get sidelined in early January only to see him come back for the bubble postseason and then he get hurt again in the Conference finals, the conversation might be shifting. And rightfully so.
Pelech has deserved recognition from those outside of Long Island for some time now.
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