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The Puck Stops Here

Zdeno Chara - Best Puck Possession Player In The NHL

Yesterday I posted the top 20 players by team and zone adjusted Corsi ratings.  The leader is Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.  He was also the leader in 2010/11.  This shows that Zdeno Chara has been the best player in terms of puck possession for the last two years running.  When he is on the ice his team has the puck more than any other team even when you correct for his teammates and the zone starts he plays.  I think this allows us to make the argument that Chara is the best player in the NHL today.

Chara has been a nominee for the Norris Trophy in each of the last two seasons after winning the award in 2009.  He has reached the level where he is a perennial nominee.  His problem has been that he doesn’t look as dominant as he actually is.  Chara possesses a devastating bodycheck and slapshot but he uses them sparingly.  His game depends on strong positional play and upon his puck possession ability that his Corsi ratings show.  He isn’t the biggest offensive scorer as 52 points is his career best.  This allows people to underrate him and give the Norris to the best offensive defenceman in Erik Karlsson when Chara is deserving.

When we look to the best players in the NHL, Sidney Crosby is a bit uncertain given the time he has lost to concussions.  alexander Ovechkin has not posted top offensive numbers in a couple years.  Evgeni Malkin is back on top last season after a couple of seasons lost to injury.  I think it is a reasonable argument that Zdeno Chara is the best player in hockey today.  He has consistently dominated defence at a higher level that anyone else has dominated their position over the last few years.  He doesn’t have the award resume one might expect to show it, but his underlying puck possession numbers are extraordinary.  Zdeno Chara may be the best player in hockey today and very few people have even considered that possibility.

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I wonder about the effect of Patrice Bergeron on Chara’s Corsi (and vice versa). Both are obviously huge positive factors.

Posted by Ralph on 08/06/12 at 02:29 AM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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