Dave Bolland: Selke Candidate to Watch


Looking at this new season, there are many people poised to breakout in some way. The breakout scorers and breakout goaltenders and breakout defensemen will have plenty of articles written about them. However, there is one role that frequently goes unsung, defensive forwards. Called by many names: grinders, PK-guys, third liners, depth forwards, these players are the unsung heroes of any team. One of them is poised to break out and possibly challenge for the Selke award as the best defensive forward this season. This player is Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland,
 
Blackhawks Captain Jon Toews was a shocking Selke nominee last season. The word shocking is used because, Toews was not the best defensive forward on his own team. To illustrate this,  statistics from www.BehindTheNet.ca have been taken. 
 
First situational play with regard to Zone Start and Zone Finish
 
Dave Bolland: O-Zone start 33%, O-Zone finish 50%
Jon Toews: O-Zone start 68.8%, O-Zone finish 44.4%
 
Starting from here, one thing is obvious. Dave Bolland controlled the puck and moved it forward, Jon Toews quite literally, gave the puck to the other team and moved backwards. When Toews was on the ice, the puck moved backwards, away from the side of the ice Chicago would be attacking, when Dave Bolland was on the ice, he usually started in his defensive zone and moved the puck forwards ending half his shifts in the offensive zone. This means, that Bolland would win control the puck, advance it forward and change. Conversely, the 2011 Selke Winner, Ryan Kesler had 50% offensive zone starts and finished in the offensive zone 52% of the time. This means that even with relatively easy zone assignments, Kesler kept the puck moving forward.
 
This brings up the next point, shots. Which player, Toews or Bolland, had a move favorable shot ratio. To look at the shot ratio of attempted shots for to attempted shots againts (known as CORSI). Then this value will be equalized by using a metric known as Corsi Relative to Quality of Competition. Basically, the short form is, it takes more effort to get a positive score against tougher opponents and harder to get a better score against weaker opponents.
 
Dave Bolland: -5.833 CORSI Rel QoC
Jon Toews: -1.981 CORSI Rel QoC
 
Now, at first glance here, it seems that Toews has the edge over Bolland. There are 2 factors however that will show just how dominant defensively Bolland is. First: as mentioned earlier, Bolland spends more time in the defensive zone. A lot more. Jon Toews started twice as often in the offensive zone which means he mad more scoring opportunities before he would cough the puck up to the other team. Second, is teammates. Dave Bolland had far worse linemates than Bolland. To do this, let's have a look at the quality of teammates of Dave Bolland and Jon Toews.
 
Dave Bolland: 20.868  CORSI REL QoT
Jon Toews: -1.271  CORSI REL QoT
 

This number is so far in favor of Bolland that the only analogy I can think of would be comparing the goal scoring talent of Steven Stamkos to that of a goaltender. Dave Bolland's CORSI REL QoT shows he carried his linemates because he had too. Jon Toews's shows his linemates carried him.

 
Just for the sake of comparison, here's the Selke winner, Ryan Kesler.
 
CORSI Rel QoC: 0.228
CORSI Rel QoT: 4.185

Bolland was better by far in terms his teammates over Kesler, and not as good compared to the competition. But again, Bolland started the fewest shifts in the offensive zone of any of these three players. This in terms means more shots against and therefore a lower rating in every CORSI category.
 
Finally, another important place to look is blocked shots. This is a more straight forward argument than Corsi. Because of that, all 3 players will be compared in terms of blocked shots per 60 minutes of time on ice.
 
Bolland: 118.8 Blk/60
Toews: 3.91 Blk/60
Kesler: 234.3  Blk/60
 
That math is correct, Jon Toews doesn't block shots. Granted, in the case of Toews, it's awfully hard to block shots when he starts in the offensive zone, gives up the puck and has to chase it back to defensive zone. Kesler and Bolland though, they should what a defensive forward is supposed to do, block shots. Kesler has an added bonus of seeing 0:23 extra PK time per game. That's about 25 shorthanded minutes per season extra for Kesler over Bolland which in turn inflates the blocked shot total slightly. This is where Kesler had the advantage to win the Selke however Bolland should get the opportunity to catch up due to the fact that Chicago now employs permanent Penalty Box visitor Daniel Carcillo who has 139 minor penalties ,1 non fighting major and 1 fighting major without a partner (vs. Matt Bradley 12-5-09) in 282 games played, or 141 times he put his team down a man (or evened up a call) in 282 games which is 1 PK/ended PP per 2 games played. If Carcillo plays his career average, Dave Bolland will get busy on the PK.
 
With the new season looming, and the Hawks having questions as to the role of 2nd line center, the numbers suggest Dave Bolland can take that role and run with it. He had 37 points (15G 22A) with horrible linemates in 61 games, if he gets quality linemates on the Hawks second line, Bolland could easily put up 55-65 points in 82 games and still have Ryan Kesler type defensive stats. If this happens, Dave Bolland will be the 2012 Selke Winner.