Player Previews: Part 9 – Bryce Salvador

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By Trevor Jahnke

#24- Bryce Salvador – Defenseman

2013 Season Stats 

Games played: 39

Average Time on ice: 21:20

Points: 2 (0g,2a)

Plus/Minus: minus-12

Analysis:

Season Grade: C-

In his first season as captain of the New Jersey Devils, Bryce Salvador battled an upper body and wrist injury, which caused him to miss a combined nine games in the second half of the season.

Many will look at those numbers and be disappointed at his lack of production. That is understandable seeing that the captain made more of an offensive contribution during the Devils run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012 (four goals, 10 assists in 24 games) than in his last two seasons COMBINED (0 goals, 11 assists in 121 games).

But, Salvador was never an offensive defenseman.  He has always concentrated on playing defense first. So you can’t judge his season based on goal and assists.  One stat that will help you make your judgment on his season is his plus/minus rating.

Salvador had a plus/minus rating of +18 during the 2011-12 season but last year that number dropped down to -12 which was his lowest since the 2005-06 season when he was with the St. Louis Blues, when was -24. Now that can be associated with the fact that he had the 3rd highest ATOI (Average Time on ice) on the team (Ilya Kovalchuk and Andy Greene were first and second respectively).  It should be expected that there’s more chance to get scored on the longer a player is on the ice. But, Greene managed to keep his plus/minus rating in the positive, so I don’t think that argument carries here.

So to summarize, he didn’t contribute offensively and he didn’t come close to playing up to the defensive expectations that he had set for himself from the year before. Overall, it was a disappointing season for the Devils’ captain.

2014 Preview

Salvador has had plenty of time to rest his injuries and reflect on last season. After looking at his career stats, I can happily say that he has never had disappointing back-to-back seasons.

The 37-year-old captain might be starting to show signs of his age but if Salvador has shown us anything, it’s that he will not let his past injuries affect him.

Salvador may not be the most skilled blueliner on the roster, but the guy’s an undeniable leader. He’s going to have to rally the team to another post-season berth, which isn’t going to be the easiest thing, but it’s certainly within the capabilities of this team.

Projections: 
As far as stats go, don’t be expecting a breakout year for the captain. Not too many 37-year-old defensemen can put up the numbers that the younger players have been racking up. That’s not to say that Salvador won’t be posting any points at all, but he won’t be putting up Greene or Marek Zidlicky numbers. Nor should he have to because he remains the team’s top defensive option and one of the two defensemen you want out there at the end of the game to hold the lead.

He won’t have nearly as bad of a year as he did last season so long as he takes care of himself and does not get injured.  This year, I know he’s going to try to play in all 82 games but at his age, I think it’s much more realistic to say he’ll play in between 70-75, which is still good. I predict he’ll have one goal (maybe two if we’re lucky) and seven assists. His plus/minus rating will vastly improve to +15.  Let’s go captain!

In case you missed them, here are the first six parts of the series: 

Part 1: Andy Greene

Part 2: Michael Ryder

Part 3: Cory Schneider

Part 4: Andrei Loktionov

Part 5: Patrik Elias

Part 6: Jacob Josefson

Part 7: Adam Henrique

Part 8: Peter Harrold