Brett Pesce Is The Carolina Hurricanes’ Best Defenseman

Brett Pesce is one of the biggest surprises so far this year for the Carolina Hurricanes defense

Last season the Carolina Hurricanes called up Brett Pesce after James Wisniewski went down for the whole season.  Throughout his first games in the NHL, Pesce played well for the Hurricanes. Well enough that the Canes sent down Ryan Murphy to the AHL in order to clear out a permanent roster spot for Pesce.

While Pesce’s play last year was very good, most people considered him to be the worst of the three rookies on defense after Jaccob Slavin and Noah Hanifin.  But after just 8 games, Pesce’s outlook seems greatly improved.  Just take a look at how some of Pesce’s stats rank on Carolina’s defense.  All data is 5v5, score and venue adjusted, and from Corsica.

Stats Rank
CF% 1st
CF60 2nd
CA60 1st
xGA60 1st
TOI 4th
RelCF% 1st
RelCF60 2nd
RelCA60 1st
RelxGA60 1st

Basically, Pesce leads every defensively minded metric .  And even when it comes to generating offense (one of Pesce’s main criticisms from last year) he is 2nd overall.  How much Brett Pesce is contributing to the offense is up for debate. The fact remains that if Pesce is on the ice, the Hurricanes create more offense and their opponents create less.

Probably the most curious stat on here is his TOI.  With Pesce putting up such great numbers it’s surprising that Bill Peters isn’t using him more.  Strangely enough Pesce’s ice time falls behind not only Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin (which is understandable), but Ron Hainsey as well.  Why would Peters keep putting out a player like Hainsey, when he has someone like Pesce who does everything Hainsey does but better?

Is Pesce ready to join the NHL’s best?

In addition to leading the Canes in these metrics, Pesce’s stats rank pretty impressively against the NHL as a whole.  Just take a look at this radar graph from Corsica.  All stats are 5v5 score and venue adjusted.

Again Pesce’s Corsi For stats are nothing to write home about.  But just look at those puck suppression stats.  As a result of his improved defense, Pesce ranks near the top of the league with a few stats topping out around the 90th percentile.

Fans knew going into this year that Jaccob Slavin and Justin Faulk were our top defenseman.  Now it seems that Brett Pesce could be joining that group really soon if he continues to play the way he has in the past 8 games.  With Ryan Murphy’s solid premiere last night, and if Hanifin can improve his defensive game, the Canes could be creating another New Jersey Devils’ style defensive powerhouse.  Now if the Carolina Hurricanes could only find an average goaltender like Martin Brodeur to put in net then the cups would start rolling in.

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