Throughout the month of July, Madhouse Enforcer will be taking a look at the performances of the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What can they improve upon next season?
We’ll continue our evaluations today by examining what Sheldon Brookbank brought to the table for the team.
Brookbank was expected to share the sixth defenseman spot in the lineup with Michal Rozsival and Mike Kostka, and he not only did that for the Blackhawks, but he also came into the rotation as a forward on several occasions. In 48 games played during the regular season, Brookbank scored twice and added five assists, averaging almost 13 minutes per game of ice time in the process.
While his numbers aren’t all that great, and he was barely passable as a forward (okay, he wasn’t at all), Brookbank filled his role exactly the way he was supposed to. He provided some physicality and grit off the back end, contributed occasionally on the offensive side of things, and largely stayed out of Nick Leddy’s way when they were paired up together. It wasn’t spectacular, but that’s what the situation required, and he did it.
Brookbank may have been serviceable on the blue line, but his overall numbers still do leave something to be desired from a defensive perspective. In this graph, helpfully constructed by friend of the blog Jen over at Second City Hockey, we see that among all of the Blackhawks’ players last season, Brookbank was arguably the worst defensively based on his Fenwick Against vs. his Fenwick For (Fenwick measures the number of shots taken, excluding blocked shots):
While guys like Ben Smith and Johnny Oduya weren’t exactly stellar in terms of generating shot attempts, they at the very least kept to a minimum the shot totals against them. Brookbank’s marker being high and to the left of the graph means that he allowed more shots against him than he helped generate while he was on the ice, and on a high possession team like the Hawks, that’s a bad thing.
Best Game of the Season:
It’s ironic that we’re picking a game for Brookbank that saw him pick up a game misconduct in the third period, but his play against the Minnesota Wild on October 28th in St. Paul is still worthy of praise. He scored a goal, racked up three shots on goal and had four hits even in that limited amount of time, and the jump he showed helped key a great win by the Hawks in hostile territory.
Outlook for 2014-15:
It’s unclear at this point whether Brookbank will return to the Hawks next season, as he is an unrestricted free agent, but if he does, then the team will simply look for more of the same from him in terms of his production. He isn’t going to be expected to get many points, but he will be expected to be content with skating minimum minutes with either Nick Leddy, or potentially a youngster like Stephen Johns or Klas Dahlbeck if the Hawks jettison Johnny Oduya to get under the salary cap.