2012 NHL Free Agency: Getting To Know Aaron Rome

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 24: Steve Bernier #18 of the New Jersey Devils battles with Aaron Rome #29 of the Vancouver Canucks at the Prudential Center on February 24, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Aaron Rome has been a Dallas Star for a few weeks. If you aren't familiar with him no one would blame you, and if you went to Google for more information about Aaron Rome this would be the first bit of information you would come across from Wikipedia:

Aaron Rome is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman currently playing for the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League.

As informative as this description is, we can probably do better.

Rome is a defense-oriented blueliner brought in to provide the Stars with depth in the wake of the departure of Sheldon Souray. He will be expected to play a role similar to what the Stars expected Adam Pardy and Mark Fistric to play. The Rome signing is a condemnation of their play, and another signal that the transition game is going to be emphasized going forward. After the jump we'll look at what Rome is as a player, and how he fits in 2012.

Rome is a 6'1 218 pound defender that the Stars are penciling in on the bottom pair. He's known as a defensive player above all else who can throw his weight around. Rome is probably best known for knocking Nathan Horton out of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in game three with a hit that was slightly late at the Canucks blueline as Horton skated across with his head down.

Rome is unlikely to give the Stars much offensive production. He has never played big minutes in the NHL, and even his modest ten points in 43 games during the 2012 season are supported by a 9.5% shooting percentage

Season Age Tm GP G A PTS +/- PIM S S% ATOI
2006-07 23 ANA 1 0 0 0 -1 0 1 0 14:31
2007-08 24 CBJ 17 1 1 2 -4 33 15 6.7 18:11
2008-09 25 CBJ 8 0 1 1 1 0 7 0 15:28
2009-10 26 VAN 49 0 4 4 -2 24 49 0 15:11
2010-11 27 VAN 56 1 4 5 1 53 50 2 17:25
2011-12 28 VAN 43 4 6 10 -4 46 42 9.5 15:14
Career 174 6 16 22 -9 156 164 3.7 16:13

The Stars brought him in to improve the defense down the lineup which is ideally the role they had pegged for Adam Pardy or Mark Fistric. Pardy has since been moved to Buffalo, but Fistric remains as a restricted free agent. We know that none of the three options are going to produce much offensively, but we can pinpoint some differences between the three.

Player OZ% Corsi QoC Corsi GF ON/60 GA ON/60
Rome 42.80% -0.392 -8.2 1.74 2.05
Pardy 51.30% -0.014 -5.2 2.07 2.83
Fistric 45.50% -0.534 -3.8 1.63 1.78

One thing that immediately stands out is that Pardy is just about irrelevant to the conversation. He played significantly easier minutes than either Rome or Fistric yet, somehow, opposing teams scored more than a goal per 60 minutes more with Pardy on the ice than Fistric. The Stars moved Pardy with good reason.

The question becomes whether Rome or Fistric is the better player. Their games sound identical. The Canucks and Stars used each player, respectively, in the same role with protected minutes down the lineup. Among their defensive peers both players achieved similar possession results. Really, I don't see why Rome is any better than Fistric.

The Stars have the roster space to carry both players. Bottom pairing ice time could go to either player and, at times, to both simultaneously. The signing shows that the Stars weren't happy with their defensive depth last season, particularly with Pardy. (There is little excuse for getting outshot as often as he did given his relatively easy minutes.) Rome also brings his experiences from playing for a very good transition team. Those experiences will prove to be invaluable for a growing team looking to stamp out an identity as an improving possession team in 2013 (whenever it begins).

We might not know much about Aaron Rome, but we can say with decent authority that he's better than Pardy. That might not be setting bar particularly high, but it isn't intended as a backhanded compliment. He should be a fine fit at a reasonable cap hit.

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