Luke Glendening is often pointed to by Red Wings fans when the topic of why the Red Wings are bad is brought up. Glendening is the epitome of what we’ve come to think about as the Red Wings Way ™: a Michigan boy who works hard and grinds it out in the corners. His work ethic has earned him a contract that pays him under $2-million until the end of next season. As far as contracts go, it’s far from one of the worst on the books. And that’s because Glendening is actually a serviceable player.
Teams love a guy like Glendening, who they can rely on for killing penalties and winning defensive zone faceoffs. Every year at the trade deadline, the rumors resurface that teams are calling on his surface. And certainly if you think about some of the best top-heavy teams in the league and insert Luke Glendening into the bottom-6, he could give them that extra inch they need in a playoff push.
On a team like the Red Wings, though, where there’s not a lot of good to highlight, Glendening’s services are easy to hate on, even if he does play his role really well.
I never expect to see a lot of blue in these charts for Glendening. He’s deployed defensively against strong competition. His role is to play in his own end and just make sure the other team doesn’t score. In terms of goals, he does that quite well. It’s the only blue column on this chart.
Listing the power play chart is probably unfair for Glendening. He doesn’t get a lot of PP time. His specialty is more on the penalty kill. The Wings had one of the worst penalty kills in the league, but…. Yeah, hard to defend this one. Glendening is a fine fourth line grinder, but he’s not revolutionary in any sense. He tries really hard, but he can’t stop everything. He just doesn’t have the skill level to do it.
Glendening set a career high in points this year, but that’s likely due to his increase in ice-time. At an average of 15:47 per game, he was seventh among team forwards in time-on-ice. That plants him firmly in the top-9. Objectively, Glendening is a 4th line center at best. So that says a lot about Detroit’s lack of forward depth and how much value they placed in the kind of game Glendening plays.
The one part of Glendening’s game that is actually good is his work in the faceoff circle. His 55.7 FOW% was the best on the team and 11th best in the league among centers who took over 800 faceoffs. The problem is that Detroit’s possession game was so bad that even when Glendening won a draw, the other team ended up with the puck. Put him on a team with strong possession and his faceoff game becomes clutch.
Not really any surprises here. As the team has gotten worse, so have Glendening’s possession stats. Of course, we shouldn’t expect him to drive too much possession, but on a team where nobody can do it, we’ll take it from anybody. The scariest number on his chart is his on-ice shot percentage, which is down to a dismal 41.52%. Opponents take a lot of shots when Glendening is on the ice and they are from primo spots, too. Most notably, both points and right in front of the net are frequent shot against positions when Glendening is on the ice.
Honestly, I don’t expect much more from Glendening than what is in this player review. The Red Wings aren’t getting particularly better as the rebuild process continues, so Glendening’s deployment and quality of teammates will remain the same, and we’ll see him chasing the puck again.
The one sliver of hope is that we don’t know what Steve Yzerman’s plan is for the team. He can be unpredictable and he heavily values skill and speed in his bottom-6. Since we know that other teams see the value in Glendening’s game (*cough* Toronto *cough*), maybe Yzerman will finally pull the trigger on a trade this year. It’s something that Ken Holland “kicked tires on” every trade deadline, but just couldn’t figure out.
IF Glendening does get traded, I suspect he’ll find success on a contending team. His contract isn’t terrible, especially with another year gone, and shouldn’t be that hard to move. I continue to hope.
I rated him a little higher because he’s good at faceoffs and it’s not his fault that his teammates can’t hold onto the puck once he’s done his job in the circle.