We'll kick off our season reviews of the 2011-2012 Nashville Predators with one of the more popular players on the team, the big lug who fills a rather unique role.
#23 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators
Sep 02, 1981
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
|2011 - Brian McGrattan||30||0||2||2||-1||61||0||0||0||10||0|
Claimed off waivers from Anaheim a few days into the season, McGrattan was brought in to play the role of heavyweight enforcer. Simply put, nobody expected him to put the puck in the net (or do much of anything with it, really).
He filled that job description to a T, entertaining crowds at Bridgestone Arena by not only pounding the snot out of opponents, but demonstrably relishing his work and egging the fans on to voice their support.
In terms of contribution to the results of any given hockey game, McGrattan was a non-factor.
Most of this data is from Behind The Net - "Net Zone Starts" is the balance of Offensive - Defensive faceoffs for which McGrattan was on the ice, so in his example he was on for 3 more Offensive Zone faceoffs than Defensive Zone ones.
|GP||5-on-5 TOI||Shots/60||G/60||A/60||Pts/60||Qual Team||Qual Comp|
|Rel Corsi||Net Zone Starts||Adj. Rel Corsi||Team Shoot||Save||PDO|
Advanced stats only belabor the point about an enforcer's lack of influence on wins & losses. He skated with 4th-line players, played against 4th-line players, and took the fewest shots on goal among the forwards per 60 minutes of 5-on-5.
The best you can really hope for with players like this is that nothing really bad happens during his few minutes of ice time.
McGrattan's fight with Toronto's Jay Rosehill is a contender for Hockeyfights.com's Fight of the Year honors:
As long as the Nashville Predators continue to reserve a roster spot for an enforcer, it would seem like McGrattan has a good opportunity here. He seems popular in the locker room, and among the fans.
Personally, I think the time of the enforcer has long since passed. The "protecting your star players" angle which is often raised in their defense doesn't seem to hold water any more. Rather than engaging the guys who are putting dangerous hits on your stars, modern enforcers tend to only pair up with the other team's enforcer in an agreed-upon fashion. Just think of the opponents who put dangerous hits on the Predators this season:
Mike Fisher knocked out of a game by Francois Beauchemin.
Martin Erat goes on IR for 3 weeks after a head shot by Derek Dorsett.
Blake Geoffrion injured on a hard shoulder-to-shoulder hit by Ryan Jones.
Mark Fistric concussed Shea Weber in Dallas.
I'm sure I may have missed one or two in there, but do you recall much bare-knuckle hockey justice being doled out in response? Jordin Tootoo fought Fistric the next time the Preds & Stars played, and Tootoo also took on Dorsett, but McGrattan had pretty much nothing to do with any of these situations.
So what's the point of having an enforcer around, exactly?