Born: January 12, 1981 (Stockholm, Sweden)
Height, Weight: 6’0”, 195 lbs
Contract: 2 years left at $4,750,000 (UFA 2019)
Games Played: 57
Score-Adjusted CF%: 47.57%
Average TOI: 19:27
Niklas Kronwall’s 13th season with the Red Wings got off to a bit of a rocky and late start. He wasn’t able to get into a game until November 4th, missing the first part of the season while nursing his left knee, the same knee that he had surgery on in mid-January of 2016. After missing the first 12 or so games of the season, Kronwall was able to play most of the remaining 70. The majority of those he missed came in mid-January when he sat out 8 in a row.
This came on the heels of a 12 game pointless streak that spanned the entire month of December. When he went down with an injury after the Wings’ January 4th game against the Ducks, he had only 3 points in 25 games to start his season. The two week break from action seemed to help, at least on the scoresheet, since he never went more than 4 games without registering a point until the end of the season.
The teammates that he was paired with in the second half of the year might’ve had a hand in this, as he spent the majority of his time with either Mike Green or Nick Jensen from January onward. Perhaps moving forward it’ll be best to keep him with a guy like Jensen on the 3rd pair and shelter the two of them from heavy competition. I don’t mind the idea of playing him with a mobile puck-mover who can get back to cover up for any deficiencies Kronwall has.
What He Did vs Expectations
Given how far his play dropped off at the end of last season, I don’t think there were very high expectations for Kronwall going into the season. This career summary from Hockeyviz.com should give you some idea where his play was at towards the end of last year and how he performed this year, at least in regards to point production and which pairing he found himself on.
So, I guess all that could’ve been expected was that he’d play somewhat regularly and contribute on the powerplay.
Let’s start with even strength. Using DTMAboutHeart’s GAR model, we can look at how effective Kronwall was relative to a base level of replacement. At even strength, Kronwall was the 18th worst defenseman in GAR, and the 14th worst in overall GAR (both out of 300 defensemen). He ranks similarly in other measures of performance like Game Score, Corsi, Expected Goals, and so on.
And on the powerplay, out of 100 defensemen who had at least 60 minutes of powerplay time, Kronwall ranked 85th in Powerplay Offense, a component of GAR. And out of the same number of defensemen, Kronwall ranked 81st in 5v4 Primary Points/60 minutes.
The main takeaway here is that Kronwall’s effectiveness at 5v5 is no longer there, and while that was to be expected, he’s not even that great at contributing on the powerplay now either.
Final Grade: D+
While there might not have been very high expectations this year for Kronwall, I still think his play has fallen off far enough to warrant a rather low grade. Mostly everything about his game has eroded. Some games he had a bit of extra jump in his step compared to others, especially later in the year, but it was still clear that he’s no longer cut out to play top-four minutes in the NHL. Perhaps he could make more of an impact in a more-limited role with more help on the back-end, but at age 36 with a permanent knee injury, I’m not that optimistic.
What Grade Should Nik Kronwall Receive?
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