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Ron Wilson's On-Ice Deployments

When it comes to the Leafs, every move and every storyline is amplified and magnified. Toronto, being the centre of the hockey universe (Yes, I know, but let's just let them think this) means that personnel moves make national news, slumps become prayer-worthy, and breakout seasons mean hall-of-fame predictions.

Though Ron Wilson's mug is a constant fixture on TSN and CBC, and his job review is never-ending, a deep dive into Wilson personnel deployments is a worthwhile endeavor. After the jump, we'll break down his bench management strategy.

The horizontal axis shows qualcomp, specifically Corsi relative quality of competition taken from the venerable and terrifying Gabriel Desjardins' The vertical axis shows percentage of percentage of faceoffs taken in the defensive zone, again from the venerable and terrifying one. The bubbles are color-coded: blue means the player in the bubble has a positive zonestart-adjusted Corsi, red a negative. Finally, the size of the bubble indicates absolute value zonestart-adjusted Corsi.


*Click to enlarge or find the full-sized chart here.

  • The Leafs aren't a good possession team in general, they rank 23rd in Fenwick close, and only three of their forwards have a positive adjusted Corsi.
  • One of those forwards, budding superstar Mikhail Grabovski, has obviously benefited from playing against second-toughs, though his linemates haven't matched his performance.
  • The Leafs are driving play into the offensive zone, and as such don't have an overly sheltered line, as some teams, the Oilers and Canucks most prominently, are using. They do however have a defensive zone grouping, Dupuis, Brown, Steckel, Crabb, but Wilson is not using them against the toughs. They're getting the easiest possible qualcomp.


*Click to enlarge or find the full-sized chart here.

  • Wilson is using two of his defensemen exclusively against the toughs. Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson are the only blueliners on the right side of the of the graph. Gunnarsson has been used in the defensive zone more often, but neither man is on the positive side of the ledger.
  • Cody Franson is getting the easiest possible comp and the easiest zonestarts and has made some hay.