WWYDW: Would you have any interest in Brent Seabrook?

Brent Seabrook

A year ago, before Brent Seabrook signed a long contract extension with the Chicago Blackhawks, he was considered a potential target for the Edmonton Oilers. With Chicago’s early playoff exit and Edmonton’s continuing need for help on the right side, this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday seemed like a good chance to ask our readers whether they would still be interested in the player.

The case for adding Seabrook is pretty straight-forward.

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Seabrook has been a key piece in three Stanley Cup wins and five deep playoff runs with the Chicago Blackhawks. He ranked second on the team’s blue line in overall ice-time this season and was the club’s No. 3 defender at even-strength. If he can do that in Chicago, the reasoning goes, he should certainly be capable of stepping into a more significant role in Edmonton.

There are a couple of potential problems with that argument.

Age & Contract

Seabrook turned 31 last week. Next year is the first in his contract extension, an eight-year pact with an annual cap hit of $6.875 million per season.

Seabrook next year is probably going to be a little bit worse than Seabrook this season was. Seabrook the year after that will be worse still. An eight-year pact offers the opportunity to project his performance slightly downward eight times, and that’s optimistically assuming that the bottom doesn’t fall out entirely at some point, as it has with other players.

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The Fayne Comparison

5-Fayne-7

Player Fenwick% Qual Comp OZ shifts DZ Shifts
Brent Seabrook 47.2% -0.018 34.6% 29.4%
Mark Fayne 48.7% 0.030 26.0% 33.5%

This to me is a fascinating chart.

Mark Fayne, last season, played tougher minutes than Brent Seabrook. He spent a higher percentage of his time out against top lines. He started a much lower percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone and he started a much higher percentage of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Fenwick is the total percentage of shots and missed shots that occur at five-on-five with a given player on the ice. In other words, with Seabrook on the ice for Chicago, the Blackhawks were out-shot on average by a 53-47 margin this year. With Fayne on the ice for Edmonton, the Oilers were out-shot by a 51-49 margin.

I’ve long argued that Fayne is underrated—he played brutally tough minutes and Edmonton’s results were really pretty decent when he was out there—but that’s a red flag for me. Seabrook wasn’t taking on the tough assignments at five-on-five; he was in a secondary role behind the Duncan Keith/Niklas Hjalmarsson pairing. Yet when he was on the ice the Blackhawks were badly outshot. The team was also in the red in terms of goal differential.

In Seabrook’s defence, he didn’t have a partner like Andrej Sekera this year. He and Trevor van Riemsdyk ended up working poorly together, and his other common partners were players like Erik Gustafsson and Viktor Svedberg. On the other hand, he played eight hours with Patrick Kane (49% Corsi rating together; Kane was 54% away from Seabrook) and more than six hours with Jonathan Toews (48% Corsi together, Toews was 53% away from Seabrook)

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To me, this is a no-brainer. Seabrook is 31 years old, signed forever, not playing the toughest minutes and Chicago’s results when he was on the ice this year were not good. The player Edmonton needs is the Seabrook of the last eight years, not the Seabrook of the next eight.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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  • TKB2677

    I’m not trying to come off as a jerk but for anyone to mention Mark Fayne and Brett Seabrook in the same sentence and even remotely hint that maybe Fayne is slightly better, I severely question if you have any clue what you are talking about.

    How many 40 pt seasons does Fayne have? None, Seabrook has 3 including this past season.

    How many 30 pt seasons does Fayne have? None. Seabrook has 8.

    How many 20 pt seasons does Fayne have? None.
    Seabrook has scored more than 20 pts in every single of his 11 seasons.

    How many cups does Fayne have? None. Seabrook has 3.

    How many Olympic Gold medals does Fayne have? None. Seabrook

    How many playoff games has Fayne played? 24
    Seabrook has 119.

    In those 119 playoff games and 3 cup wins, was Seabrook a 7th Dman? No, he was a critical player, difference maker and an assistant captain for most of them.

    On a team loaded with young, inexperienced players, a 28 yr old NHL vet Dman who’s one of the more experienced players on the team wears an ‘A’ and is a leader, right? Nope.

    Go ask all 30 GMs which Dman would they rather have? Fayne or Seabrook.
    After they stopped laughing, all 30 would say Seabrook. If Fayne is so good, Bowman should be on the phone right now, offering Seabrook for Fayne straight up and praying the Oilers do the deal. Not a chance it will ever happen. When the Hawks were pressing for the tying goal in game 7 a couple of days ago, who was on the ice and came within inches of tying the game? Seabrook. If Fayne is a Hawk, doesn’t he even see the ice in the last 5 mins of that game? Not a chance in hell. In the Oilers last game at Rexal, an absolute must win, guess who was dead last in ice time? Fayne. I’m not counting Nurse because he got hurt. Waiver pick up Pardy and 2 arguably AHLers in Osterle and Reinhart played more than Fayne in a must win game for the Oilers. IN the Oilers last game of the year, where was Fayne in ice time? 4th behind Sekera and 2 rookies – Nurse and Osterle. He edged out Reinhart by 16 seconds.

    I’m not advocating to bring in Seabrook because I agree that given his age and the amount of hard miles on the odometer, that contract of his is scary. But other than Fayne and Seabrook being right handed, it’s not even close, they aren’t even in the same league as a Dman. Seabrook today could go on just about any team and be in their top pairing. Is it a guarantee that Fayne is in every teams top 6 let along their top 4? I don’t know if that’s true. My respect for My. Willis and his knowledge of hockey just dropped quite a bit with this article. I never believed in the whole advanced stats thing totally but I always thought there was something to it. That’s pretty much gone now. To even suggest that Fayne and Seabrook are even remotely on the same level in anyway is up there with one of the most stupid things I have ever read.

  • hemmertime

    Mr. Willis. I mean this with the utmost respect, but if you are suggesting that Mark Fayne is a more desirable asset than Brent Seabrook, I think you may have fallen down the analytics rabbit hole.