2014-15 OTF Report Card: Anton Volchenkov

As we continue evaluating the 2014-15 roster, today we admire the monolith Anton Volchenkov.

The Stats

5v5 P/60
5v5 SAT %
5v5 SAT % Rel
5v5 SCF %
5v5 GF %
5v5 PDO
5v5 TOI/Game

Season Summary

David Poile made a smart decision last July in signing Anton Volchenkov for a year at $1 million. It wasn't as explosive a move as the one to get James Neal, nor did it pay off as much as the signing of Mike Ribeiro, but it definitely made sense at the time. Ryan Ellis was not under contract. Mattias Ekholm and Victor Bartley were untested. Nashville needed defensive depth and someone to protect home base while Seth Jones could go out there and be Seth Jones.

The 2014-15 Predators would not have been successful without Volchenkov. As Jon pointed out, Seth Jones was at his best early in the season with a healthy A-Train as his partner. He provided a solid, if one dimensional, defensive front that consistently laid down a physical presence on the blue-line. When Ellis went down in January, Volchenkov was there to replace him. When Cody "Nickelback" Franson joined the team, Volchenkov provided an antidote to everyone's poisonous hate. Volchenkov won't go down as the best free agent acquisition in Predators history, but he won't go down as the worst either.

He spent his fair share out of the lineup, logging only 46 games. He was suspended (unfairly, probably) for 4 games in November and he spent time on the IR. Spending time off the ice due to injury is a trend he kept up from his time in New Jersey, apparently. Regardless, he was as fun as defensive players can be to watch, laying out some big hits and protecting the defensive zone in front of Pekka Rinne.

Highlight Moments

Unsurprisingly, Volchenkov failed to score a single goal this year, so we are left with these wonderful hits as his highlight package:

I'm going to ignore the inconsistency between that hit on Kyle Turris and the hit on Micheal Ferland that got Volchenkov suspended. Whatever, NHL.

As seen here, the A-Train occasionally made unscheduled stops into the boards, picking up stray passengers like Brian Campbell along the way.

Every time a Chicago Blackhawk gets hit, a puppy gets wings and flies away from Chicago forever.

Ok, so it wasn't the massive, bruising hit that everyone was hoping for, but Volchenkov was able to find Jason Spezza at least once. This is a great example of what A-20 brings.

I would be on board with that kind of defensive protection for another year or so. However...

The Road Ahead

After some early reports that the Predators and Volchenkov were in contract talks, David Poile made it clear at the Music City Sports Fest that the team would not be pursuing Volchenkov as a free agent. They will instead turn to players already in the organization to fill that role.

I will miss the presence that Volchenkov brings, and while Victor Bartley stepped up well last year and is obviously a more well-rounded defender, I think it's a mistake not to pursue a cheap player like Volchenkov. Maybe Anthony Bitetto (one of the many RFAs on the agenda) or Johan Alm can become reliable spot-start defensemen, but do you really want to start the 2015-16 season with only 6 NHL-ready defensemen?

Spirit Animal

Nick summed up Volchenkov's contributions with a nice biological comparison:

Algae. Fellow eukaryote, Anton Volchenkov, is only a piece to the puzzle and provides relief and sustainability. Algae isn't front and center in any ecosystem but they provide everything from vital nurtients and oxygen to water purification and CO2 consumption. It's also prone to injury and lacks offensive production. I guess what I'm trying to say is Anton Volchenkov is algae.

That seems right. At least... I think. It's been a while since I took Biology.

OTF Average Grade: C

(this is also probably the grade I received in Biology)

What grade would you give Anton Volchenkov for the 2014-15 season?