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How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Accept The Shane O'Brien/Ryan Parent Trade

Today's surprising trade between Vancouver and Nashville makes for quite a transition on the Predators defense, especially when coupled with the assignment of Aaron Johnson to Milwaukee and the waiving of Alexander Sulzer. So what will Shane O'Brien bring to the Nashville defense?

Shane O`Brien

Defenseman / Nashville Predators



Aug 09, 1983

Follow after the jump as we look at the upside and downside from this deal...

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First, let's check out his scouting report:

  • Is an impressive specimen who uses his size effectively. Can intimidate the opposition, fight on occasion and generally play an in-your-face style.
  • Struggles against quick forwards. Must avoid taking bad penalties that place his team in trouble. Doesn't have a ton of offensive ability.
Career Potential
  • Physical defenseman.

No surprise here, O'Brien will mostly have to be used in a 3rd-pair role in order to keep him away from guys like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Toews & Kane.

Shane O'Brien vs. Ryan Parent

Ultimately, this trade is a swap within the Top Six of Ryan Parent for Shane O'Brien, so how do they stack up in terms of some of the advanced stats from Behind the Net?

Ryan Parent Shane O'Brien
 Season GP 5-on-5 TOI/Game Relative Corsi Rel. Corsi QoC Pen. Take/60 GP 5-on-5 TOI/Game Relative Corsi Rel. Corsi QoC Pen. Take/60
 2009  48 12:17 -22.0 -.779 0.8 65 14:59 -3.1 +.011 1.3
 2008  31 15:03 -9.2 +.901 0.5 77 13:20 -3.3 -.162 2.1
 2007  22 13:12 -18.0 -.326 0.4 77 18:12 -10.2 +.269 1.2

This table warrants some explanation. For each of the last three seasons, we're comparing ice time along with three key metrics:

Relative Corsi - This represents the difference in Corsi rating (the balance of Total Shots For & Against) when a player is on the ice, compared to when he's on the bench. So, for example, last season while Ryan Parent was on the ice, the balance of Total Shots For & Against tipped negatively by 22 per 60 minutes of ice time, compared to when the Flyers were playing without Parent. This is an indicator of how a given player is contributing to the flow of a game relative to his teammates.

Rel Corsi QoC - A measure of the Quality of Competition each player faced, based on the Relative Corsi values for their opponents. So, for example, last season the average player which Parent faced had a Relative Corsi value of -.779. The higher the number, the tougher the average opponent.

Pen. Take/60 - The number of penalties taken per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play.

What these numbers tell us: Over the last three seasons, Parent has struggled mightily to keep the play out of his own end, even though he faced relatively soft opposition in two of those years. O'Brien, on the other hand, took a significant step forward the last two seasons, putting up mildly negative numbers against closer-to-average competition. This suggests that he can at least hold his own in a 3rd-pair role.

The downside, however, are those penalty numbers. Prorated over the course of an 80-game campaign at 14 minutes of 5-on-5 a night, this would translate into roughly an extra 17 penalties taken by O'Brien compared to Parent.

So how do we balance these out? Well, the penalty numbers are pretty easy - each penalty is worth about 0.20 goals, when you combine the chance that the other team will score on their PP with the loss of offensive opportunity while you're killing a penalty. So 17 extra penalties times 0.20 gives you 3.4 goals. The exact figure isn't important, but 2-5 is fair enough to give an idea of the significance.

For the difference in Corsi performance, take a bit of a walk with me here. If O'Brien can put up a performance that's 10 Total Shots per 60 minutes better than Parent's, that's a pretty substantial difference over the course of a season. Using the same guideline of 14 minutes per game and 80 games, that nets out to a difference 186 Total Shots in Nashville's favor (remember, Total Shots includes Blocked & Missed Shots). Even at a scoring rate of 4%, that nets out to about 7.5 goals, or roughly twice as large a difference as the penalty issue.

What could undermine this judgment in favor of O'Brien is if Parent finally fulfills his potential and starts driving Shots For & Against in a positive manner, and of course stays healthy over the course of a season. This, then, looks like a classic "bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" situation. O'Brien is more of a proven commodity as a 3rd-pair defenseman, while Parent still has to prove his worth there.

Concerns beyond the numbers

While the numbers may shake out in O'Brien's favor here, there is an off-ice history that can't be ignored, such as persistent issues in Vancouver related to his playing weight and tardiness for team meetings. Reading some of this stuff, he sounds more like a Tennessee Titan than a Nashville Predator.

Of course, on the plus side, it certainly seems like the honky tonks downtown should see an upturn in business...

I can understand somewhat taking Sergei Kostitsyn in as a potential turnaround story due to his offensive upside, but what's the rationale for bringing in guy without that potential, but who brings a background of discipline issues on and off the ice?

Shane O'Brien may end up posing the first significant test of Shea Weber's leadership as the new captain of the Predators. Perhaps Shea needs to take SOB out for a night on the town, hitting every bar up and down Broadway, but ending it by telling him, "have a fun time here in Nashville, but if you're caught out here the night before a game, we're going to have a problem."

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