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Photo Credit: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Wings Nation 2017-18 Player Review: Nick Jensen

Living in the shadows of either the terrible or mediocre defenseman the Red Wings had this season, Nick Jensen was one of the bright spots on the blueline in Detroit.

Not the most flashy of players, Jensen was still able to put up solid underlying numbers to support his case to stay in Motor City.

PET CHART

No defenseman on the Red Wings was able to consistently put up points this season, so I’m a little less concerned that his offensive metrics are terrible. What else could you really expect from a player not seeing the ice a whole lot?

Every other category makes Nick Jensen seem like an extremely capable player in the NHL. His numbers aren’t inflated by starting in the offensive zone more than the defensive zone, and the sample size of his tracked passing plays are average. Meaning that these numbers aren’t a fluke.

He was the Red Wings best puck-rusher on the blueline this year, demonstrated by his Exit/Entry rates; better than the player that was brought here to do that in Mike Green. What most impressed me was his ability to create from the backend. His goal assist and shot assist numbers were excellent for such an undervalued player.

CRUNCHING NUMBERS

Boxscore

from nhl.com

Like most Red Wings this year, the raw point totals were just not there. This was an extremely dull offensive team so none of this surprises me anymore.

Having no goals in the season does not really worry me either, he brought value in other ways. Other than that, there is nothing really interesting to look at here.

Corsi

provided by Corsica

This is where Nick Jensen can be seen as a valued part of this Red Wings team. In both CF% and CF%rel, he was the best among all other Red Wings defenseman, right at the very top. His CA/60 of 51.42 was the lowest among all his blueline peers and the second-lowest among all Red Wings this year, only behind Evgeny Svechnikov.

In shots that actually hit the net (SA/60), Jensen had the second-fewest comparing to his defensive teammates. Niklas Kronwall actually had the lowest SA/60 rating with 28.72, compared to Jensen’s 29.24. This means that Jensen did not have to rely on blocking shots to prevent shots going towards the net, since Kronwall’s CA/60 of 54.41 was much higher than Jensen’s.

Goal-Based

provided by Corsica

Unfortunately, Jensen could not do it all himself and his expected goals rating suffered.

His raw GF% relative to his teammates is bad, so bad that he’s even in the bottom-half of this Red Wings roster in that category. But his xGF% makes up for it.

Although still in the negative with his xG+/-, Jensen still performed better than his average teammate. Only five Red Wings had a positive xG+/-, and only three having a rating over 1.00. I feel like I’m repeating myself a lot, but this team was utter trash at creating chances and defending chances against.

Considering that Jensen’s icetime was split between Danny DeKeyser or Niklas Kronwall, I can imagine some of these numbers would significantly increase if he was paired with a capable offensive defenseman.

He can be what Marc Methot was to Erik Karlsson in Ottawa.

I wonder if Nick Jensen would look good next to a certain draft-eligible University of Michigan left-handed defenseman – whose name rhymes with Win Blues.

2018-19 PREDICTION

I really hope Nick Jensen is still in Detroit come September.

It has been reported that he was shopped around before the deadline this year, along with Xavier Ouellet, and I really think that could be a mistake from Ken Holland. Depending on the return of course.

Jensen is the type of defenseman that you could keep around and use in multiple ways. He is a very much needed right-handed shot, can carry the puck up the ice, and doesn’t depend on blocking shots to limit scoring chances from the opposition. Pretty much a very modern version of a shutdown defenseman with upside.

His contract is EXTREMELY cheap, only costing the Red Wings $812, 500 next season (taking up only 1.01% of next season’s projected cap). So why not keep him around and hope he gets to play with some more offensively-minded players next season. Libor Sulak? Dennis Cholowski? A mystery left-handed offensive dynamo on the blueline? We shall see.

CONCLUSION

He is the best defenseman they have and is underappreciated. That’s it.

GRADE: B+