Advanced Stats: How Gilroy can help

Glen Miller

The New York Ranger front office proved that despite the lockout they are still hard at work adding depth to the organization. The club recently signed Matt Gilroy to an AHL deal with the Whale leading New York Post scribe Larry Brooks to speculate that the Rangers will add the defenseman to the NHL roster once the lockout officially concludes. The move might be met with disinterest or even befuddlement by Ranger fans who remember the former Hobey Baker’s first tenure in New York as a disappointment but at least one person with the club wanted Gilroy back last season.

In an interview with Rick Carpiniello of Rangers Report conducted in June of 2011 and linked again on this site, Tortorella vocalized his “interest” in seeing Gilroy return to the team. Torts cited Gilroy’s improved play during the last quarter of the 2011 regular season and the playoffs in support of his interest. Considering how demanding Torts is of his players any endorsement he gives means something.

Understandably fans might be skeptical of Gilroy given his relatively lackluster performance overall in his two seasons on Manhattan. When Gilroy first signed with the team he was a highly sought after undrafted free agent and entered the league with expectations attached that were probably too optimistic. Remember though that Gilroy had flip-flopped from forward to defense while at Boston University and had zero professional experience upon joining the Rangers. Perhaps the expectations heaped upon Gilroy upon his arrival in the league were just unrealistic.

Let’s take a look at Gilroy’s career numbers using advanced stats to see just what Gilroy has been and likely will be for the 2012-2013 Rangers.

Season Rel. Corsi QoC QoT Off. Zone Start
2011-2012 0.0 -0.048 0.005 51.3
2010-2011 3.5 -0.103 0.059 61.5
2009-2010 9.2 -0.049 0.022 52.0

Gilroy’s Relative Corsi rating has decreased each year he has been in the league but he also posted career lows in Quality of Teammates and Offensive  Zone Start. Meanwhile, while still below average, Gilroy also opposed the strongest competition of his brief career. This suggests Gilroy can at least hold his own as a bottom pair defenseman.

Next let’s analyze how Gilroy fared according to Hockey Prospectus’ GVT metric and look at an area that Gilroy might be able to benefit the Rangers.

Season GVT ES Pts/60
2011-2012 5.6 1.06
2010-2011 2.7 0.84
2009-2010 4.3 0.77

Gilroy posted a career-best GVT rating while splitting the campaign between Tampa Bay and Ottawa and has been above replacement-level in each of his three NHL seasons. For comparative purposes, Gilroy’s 2011-2012 GVT ranked ahead of returning blueliners Steve Eminger (1.2) and Stu Bickel (2.3), both of whom will be competing with Gilroy for the RD spot on the third pair.

Gilroy also posted a solid 1.06 ES Pts/60 mark last year and would actually have led all Ranger defensemen in that category among players with at least 60 appearances. McDonagh was the top even-strength scorer among defensemen last season with 1.02 P/60. If nothing else Gilroy may be able to add a little more offense to the lineup from the 3rd pair defense.

With tempered expectations Gilroy should be able to aid the Rangers as their 6th/7th defender. Remember it was just a year ago the Rangers were forced to dress 11 different defensemen, 10 of whom played at least 18 contests. Just three, Del Zotto, McDonagh and Girardi played as many as 54. Anton Stralman and Jeff Woywitka were added in-season as the Blueshirts grew desperate for help on their blueline. Quality depth at the NHL level and fewer injuries to their key guys would be welcome. Gilroy should at least be able to help with the former.