Your Carolina Hurricanes have a lot of talent on the back end, but one man always seems to be overlooked in his major role with the team.
When you think of the Carolina Hurricanes, and their D corps, for the most part, you’ll think of the flashy stretch passes from Jake Gardiner, or Jaccob Slavin collapsing to stop a chance that was impossible to stop, or even Dougie Hamilton dancing around twenty-five people before taking a slapshot from the point that goes off the post, crossbar and in.
However, not all vital pieces of a defense corps have to be flashy. One many who embodies this heart and soul is none other than Brett Pesce. He is one of the premier shut down defenders in the National Hockey League and doesn’t even get the respect he deserves from his own fans.
If I told you there is a genuine case to be made for Brett Pesce being a top 15 defender in the NHL, you would call me crazy, right? This epitomizes everything about Pesce, and the style of game the Tarrytown, New York native plays. Pesce does all the little things right, and more often than not, he flies under the radar, because he isn’t as flashy as some of the others around him.
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Pesce is always in the right place, he’s always forcing attackers to beat him, and making it impossible to beat him. He’s not afraid to throw his weight around, he not shy of contact and he hardly ever takes penalties. He has 11 minor penalties this year. That is nothing in comparison to some of the other defenders in his role in the NHL. He’s an incredible defender.
He’s also not exactly useless going forward, is he? He’s capable of blasting shots from the point, but he’s also not got hands of stone. He is fully capable of stick-handling a goalie and scoring a nice goal. He doesn’t get the chance to show it so much, because he is so defensively orientated, but his offensive upside is phenomenal.
Now, I did say there was a case for Pesce to be considered a top 15 defender in the NHL. I am not a liar, but this case has to be made purely from an analytical perspective. Watching Pesce play solidifies this argument, but the numbers prove that Pesce is a special talent.
He is a top 10 player in terms of his expected goals against. Shock, I know. What people don’t seem to grasp is that his expected goals for is. Among defenders, it’s 12th. He’s a special player defensively. I understand that people dislike analytics, but they don’t lie. Pesce is truly a special player.
He will never get the major spotlight because of Slavin and Hamilton, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a great player, even a special player. He could shut down anyone in the league if you need him to, you can play him when you need a goal. He’s a great passer, a great defender and he can shoot. He’s a player who needs more attention from the Caniac fanbase.