The team that made Patrick Sharp play on the wing with the shell of Brad Richards then cried about his lack of scoring has asked Trevor Daley to fundamentally alter his game and, after successfully implementing those changes, has reportedly put him on the trading block after only 19 games apparently due to a lack of scoring and inconsistent defensive play.
Had the Chicago Blackhawks ever seen Daley play before the trade? The entire idea that Daley is available via trade already is absurd unless he has been a clubhouse cancer. Daley was a good soldier for the Dallas Stars for a very long time. He was far from a perfect player, but there were times over the years where he provided a lot of value.
There were significant issues, particularly in 2015, which needed to be addressed for Daley to continue being a member of the Stars. We dubbed it "The Trevor Daley Effect".
Every player was worse in shot differential by a significant margin with Daley on the ice. Daley didn't just forget how to play hockey. Something was going on that needed to be fixed, and if they couldn't get it fixed then a trade made sense. We know how that turned out.
About one month ago, Mark Lazerus wrote a long article about Daley working to fit in with the Blackhawks. A lot of questionable statistical discussion is involved, but the article points out why the transition has been difficult..
Dallas played a different style, a more open, freewheeling system that allowed Daley to be more aggressive offensively while making sacrifices defensively. Hence the huge gap in his traditional stats versus his advanced stats. And in the month he's been in Chicago, the 32-year-old has been working hard to adapt his style to Quenneville's
That's the same conclusion anyone who has ever watched Daley would have come to. I mentioned a similar idea in the previously linked post. When Daley left the lineup last year many things happened:
However, the biggest difference we've seen lately has been an improved defense. Odd man rushes are less frequent. Defensive breakdowns have happened, but they occur with less frequency. The goals against are down. Kari Lehtonen's save percentage is up. How much of this has to do with Daley?
The short answer here is that we don't really know. It could be a coincidence. It could be a shift in strategy. It could just simply be the young kids getting better. Really, it could be all of these things, but it would be disingenuous to ignore the available data that suggests the Stars need something different from Daley.
The Stars needed to either move on from Daley or fix whatever was happening with him on the ice as part of taking the next step towards respectability. In a chat shortly before the trade, Stars beat guru Mike Heika mentioned the issue.
Mike I've seen a lot of hate towards Daley lately. Personally I feel like he is a great leader, a decent d-man, and should be kept for a while. How do you feel about him? If trading is the answer, where to and for who possibly? Thanks!
Heika: He is one of the best guys in the room, and he is a very underrated leader. He has a great work ethic and a strong calm that's needed with younger players. The problem is his analytics have been really bad for several seasons. He has one of the worst SATs in the league. I know the team weighs the analytics with what Daley does as a player and gives him a much higher grade than the fans do.
In another chat he mentioned the possibility of a trade.
Many teams would like to trade for him right now, because they believe he could excel in the right role and because they love his contract. The Stars are hoping that they can find the right role, as well.
With the Blackhawks the changes have been made. Daley is focusing more on defense. Lazerus had more about the change:
"It's different," Daley said. "That's part of the reason these guys have had so much success. For me, it's a no-brainer — just do what I'm told. And it's not like it's said to you once and then it goes without saying anymore. It's repetition. They preach it around here. It's the same stuff every single day, every single practice. Joel's saying the same things all the time, so it makes it easier."
Quenneville likes the offensive weapon that Daley is, but cautioned that defense comes first. Daley has been paired with the more defensive-minded Trevor van Riemsdyk — the Hawks, led by Bryan Bickell have taken to calling van Riemsdyk "Travis" to avoid confusion — and the two have had good nights and bad nights so far this season. Daley doesn't have a point yet as he focuses more on his defensive game, but he's manning the point on the second power-play unit.
"Trevor gives us a nice dimension from the back end, off the point," Quenneville said. "He's got some quickness joining the rush and jumping through, and even off the point, as well. Defensively, it's something where, every day, I think we're seeing improvements in his game, his stick, and his positioning, as well."
Statistically the improvement is obvious. The Corsi% is significantly higher. More High Quality Chances are going in his teams favor than last year. A higher percentage of Scoring Chances are being generated. Personally, he is attempting double the amount of shots/60 minutes than last year.
Not only has Daley graded out better defensively, but his personal shot production is significantly higher. They just haven't gone in. Scoring production expectations were high for Daley coming off of his 16 goal campaign, but anyone who expected him to continue shooting 14% as a defender was highly optimistic. He's a career 6.5% shooter. If he keeps putting up underlying numbers like this the points will come.
The question is who that production will benefit...
10. Who is looking for defence? Ottawa for sure. Columbus, too. Yes, the Blue Jackets made a coaching change, but that hasn't stopped GM Jarmo Kekalainen from wanting to adjust his roster, too. Chicago's Trevor Daley could be had, but teams are careful about anyone with term. Daley's got one more season at $3.3 million. Thought he'd score there, but it hasn't worked so far.
...and that sucks for Daley. He has done everything he has been asked to do, reportedly been a good teammate, gotten used to a new system, team, and city, all while having what appears to be some bad luck offensively. And now the Blackhawks are willing to ditch him 19 games into the season. It stinks that this is happening to him and I hope he lands on his feet elsewhere so his improved overall game can benefit someone outside of the Central Division.