RED WINGS YEAR IN REVIEW: ALEXEY MARCHENKO

Drafted in the 7th round of the 2011 entry draft, Alexey Marchenko has seemingly already surpassed any expectations the organization may have had with their late pick. While he’s not the diamond in the depths we saw with Zetterberg or Datsyuk, the fact that he’s proving himself a serviceable NHL defenceman is definitely something to be happy about. The fact that he’s one of only four right-handed shooters on the entire Red Wings roster makes him even more valuable right now. 

To date we’ve only seen 80 regular season NHL games from the kid. This season he managed to stay in the lineup fairly regularly, notching a career high 66 games. Marchenko is big at 6’3″, 210lbs but he isn’t going to dazzle you with his offensive ability or his puck handling. He plays a reliable shutdown game for a bottom pair guy. Dependable isn’t exactly the first word most of us would use to describe the Wings back end this year so we’ll take it when we can. 

Let’s see what the numbers say about our 24-year-old Russian.

HERO CHART

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Not too bad for the kid. He’s being deployed as a bottom pair defenceman and his point total matches that. Where we can give Marchenko praise is in his advanced categories as he plays above his usage. He’s helping to control play, suppressing shots at a great rate, and is showing with that goal differential he could handle some tougher deployment should the Wings need it. It’s not surprising to see Smith was his most regular partner as many of us were scratching our heads when he wasn’t playing to start the playoffs. Smith’s advanced stats showed he was the last guy who should be sitting out and we see here together, they made a pretty solid bottom pair. 

CRUNCHING NUMBERS

We knew the point totals weren’t going to wow anyone. Like our last post on Luke Glendening, we understand the role Marchenko plays on this team. If we expected more that would be on us. Would a few more points be nice though? For sure, and I don’t think a 20 point season is out of the question for Marchenko. But right now he’s doing the little things correctly and doing what’s asked of him.  

CORSI:

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Again, nothing mind-boggling but the important part here is he’s on the positive side of possession. There’s a .958 save percentage happening when he’s on the ice and this is a guy they also use for about two minutes every game on the penalty kill. Should Detroit score a top pairing guy this offseason, having the ability to give that guy a break while the team is shorthanded is crucial and thankfully, Marchenko can be relied upon to do that. 

GOAL BASED

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Here we have an area Marchenko can improve upon. If he can get that Goals-For% up into the positives, we have ourselves a valuable bottom pair guy. Scoring troubles were across the board for the Wings this year so that number isn’t entirely reflective of what Marchenko was doing personally but regardless, a little more confidence next year could go a long way to getting those number up. When 57.6% of your starts are in your own zone, you’re not exactly deployed in a way to put that puck in the net. It does show he has some work to do. Make one less mistake every game than you did the year before and those numbers will rise. 

SCORING CHANCES

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Not very good. When Marchenko is on the ice the opposing team is generating more scoring chances than the Wings are. It also shows scoring-chances-for go up when he’s not on the ice. This is why I’ve put up his numbers against Quincey and Ericsson, two guys I would put in the bottom half of this core. Ericsson has better numbers but still isn’t on the winning side of the chances battle. Quincey is almost identical to Marchenko. The most important column to look at here though is the AAV salary dollars. You’re paying Quincey almost $3.5M more a year to do essentially what Marchenko is doing for you. Same with Ericsson. Is his 0.75% improvement over Marchenko’s numbers worth the $3.5M difference? I would hope you immediately say no. This team can look directly to contracts like these to see why they’re in the defensive trouble and cap hell they are right now. 

2016-2017 Predictions 

Alexey Marchenko becomes more valuable to the Red Wings next year for a few different reasons. I don’t think we’ll see a ton more of him offensively next season and that’s okay, it’s in the other areas we’ll see his real value. He is an RFA this season and is going to finally be paid more than the $666K he gets now, but I can’t see it hitting much more than $1M, an incredibly affordable contract for a team that’s got money problems. He’ll likely stay in that bottom pairing and hopefully continue to improve his advanced stats. The Wings have a few good defensive prospects in their system but none of which are ready to fully make that jump yet. Marchenko is the perfect placeholder until they’re are. He improves his game, fantastic, still lots of room to grow for this kid. If he fails to progress at least we know he’s useful in the way he’s deployed and most importantly, he does the job for cheap. It’s a win/win for the Wings having this guy in their bottom pair for another season at least. Past that will be up to him. 

Conclusion

He’s a depth guy and he did it at a fairly competent level. He’s cheap, reliable and he even shoots right. He has a chance to prove himself in the next few seasons and either way the Wings are fine. Either another late pick pays off or both parties go their separate ways and not a whole lot changes. 

GRADE: B- 

Couldn’t really ask for a whole lot more out of the guy this year but a lot more is going to be expected of him going forward should he get a new contract.