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2015 Season Review: Brayden McNabb

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Brayden McNabb had a strong possession season, but his shot rarely found the net. Will his offense improve in 2015-16?

Here is a photograph of Brayden McNabb playing hockey in what appear to be pajamas.
Here is a photograph of Brayden McNabb playing hockey in what appear to be pajamas.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Brayden McNabb - 2014-15 Statistics

GP G A P G/60 A/60 P/60 PenD CF% PDO PSh% ZSO%Rel TOI/Gm
71 2 17 19 0.12 1.02 1.14 -2 57.08 101.13 3.12 7.85 14.04

Positives

Coming into this season, Brayden McNabb had played in 37 career games.  He appeared in 71 games in 2014-15, which was fourth among Kings defensemen.  That’s a positive development for a young NHLer.

On the ice, McNabb played like a top-four defenseman according to the possession metrics, which put him right up there with Possession King Jake Muzzin, Andrej Sekera, and Drew Doughty.  Among L.A.’s regular defensemen* in 2014-15, McNabb was third in 5v5 Corsi percentage and second in 5v5 Fenwick percentage.  Of course, playing on a great possession team helps, but McNabb's WOWYs indicate his defensive partners played better with him than without him, and that includes Doughty and Sekera.  By relative Corsi and Fenwick, the Kings were a better even-strength possession team when McNabb was on the ice than when he was off.  Okay, okay, zone starts do matter,** and McNabb received very favorable ones, with only Jamie McBain and Andy Andreoff getting more offensive zone starts on a percentage basis.

*I excluded Jeff Schultz from this definition because he’s Jeff Schultz.  I included Andrej Sekera in this definition because he’s awesome.

**But maybe not that much.

Offensively, the Kings generated a better share of the scoring chances with McNabb than without him (McNabb had a Scoring Chance Rel of +1.41, behind only Doughty (+1.52) and Muzzin (+3.43) among Kings blueliners).   McNabb also produced points like a top-pair defenseman, at least as far as Kings defensemen go, more even-strength points per minute than everyone but offensive juggernaut Jamie McBain, he of the 18.8% shooting percentage.

Negatives

Here’s a negative: among Kings regulars, McNabb had a worse shooting percentage at even strength than anyone other than Nick Shore and Jarret Stoll.  That’s not company you’d want to keep if you were McNabb.  Among Kings defensemen, who didn’t shoot particularly well, only Sekera had a worse even-strength shooting percentage than McNabb.  He needs to put some pucks in the net if he wants to climb the depth chart.

Highlight

McNabb scored his second goal of the season in the Kings' last game, doubling his previous career best of 1.

The graphic on the right side of the score box is just so sad.

Going Forward

As our #5 Kings player under the age of 25 coming into the season, expectations for McNabb were high.  After his first full season, it's safe to say he hasn't met those expectations, but he may be on his way.  His possession numbers seem to indicate he'll be a productive defenseman with enough offensive potential to compete for a spot on the top pairing on a lot of NHL teams.  While he probably won't dislodge Muzzin any time soon, he's a lock to log a lot of minutes on the Kings' blueline next season.  I wouldn't be surprised if the pairings looked like this: Doughty-Muzzin, Sekera-McNabb, Greene-Martinez.  But don't quote me on that.

Grade

I'll give McNabb a B.

(All stats courtesy of puckalytics.com and war-on-ice.com.)