New York Rangers: Adam McQuaid’s impact as a defense partner

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - SEPTEMBER 27: Adam McQuaid #54 of the New York Rangers skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on September 27, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - SEPTEMBER 27: Adam McQuaid #54 of the New York Rangers skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on September 27, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Rangers acquired Adam McQuaid from the Boston Bruins this offseason. The veteran defenseman brings years of NHL experience and a Stanley Cup Championship with him. But just what is his effect on the defensemen he is partnered with?

The New York Rangers acquired veteran defenseman Adam McQuaid from the Bruins this summer to add to their shallow defense core. The 2011 Stanley Cup Champion will provide valuable experience to the defense. He also adds physicality to a defense currently full of young, more skill-focused players.

But how does McQuaid specifically impact his defense partners?

McQuaid had multiple partners through his nine years in Boston. However, he played over 2,000 minutes with Torey Krug and over 1,000 with Andrew Ference. He played a little more than 900 minutes with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

Let’s start with Krug since the two played so many minutes together. In fact, no other Bruins defense pair has played more minutes together since the  2012-13 season. Of the Bruins players McQuaid played significant time with, his possession stats with Krug are his best.

The McQuaid-Krug pairing recorded a 5-on-5 CF% of 52.61 and a plus/minus of 208. While their goal differential as a pair is -7, their stats through 255 games played together are impressive.

The success of this pairing makes sense when you look at the types of players Krug and McQuaid are. McQuaid is more of a “shutdown,” physical presence which allows Krug to move the puck and create offense. Krug has back-to-back 50+ point seasons to show for it.

The way McQuaid and Krug’s playing styles complement each other is what makes the partnership such a perfect match. Krug can join in on the offense knowing that McQuaid will be there to back him up. His “defense-first” mentality can also serve as a safety net for any mistakes Krug may make.

The dynamics with Ference and Chara were slightly different. In those cases, the pair were more purely defensively-minded. Both pairings recorded a CF% over 50 and had a positive goal differential (+15 with Ference and +17 with Chara).

Still the common thread in all of these situations is that McQuaid was the shutdown, physical presence of the two defensemen. This allows his partner to be more creative with the puck and participate more in the offensive zone. With the current Rangers defense situation, McQuaid could prove extremely useful.

Take Brady Skjei for example. He was charged with greater defensive responsibility last season. He didn’t do a horrible job, but he certainly made mistakes.

Skjei broke out in the 2017 Playoffs with Brendan Smith as his partner. Smith was that physical, strong defensive presence that allowed Skjei to move the puck and do more of what he does best. In one playoff game Skjei even scored two goals.

Skjei looks like he will be McQuaid’s partner to start the season. Skjei may not be a 50+ point scorer like Krug (yet), but he can benefit in similar ways from playing with McQuaid.

Playing with McQuaid provides extra insurance. If a defensive mistake occurs on Skjei’s part, he knows that McQuaid will most likely be there to back him up.

Now, this isn’t to make excuses for Skjei or to take away responsibility and accountability from him. It just means that the young defenseman can refine his skills and play the type of game he wants to play without an immense amount of pressure.

The Rangers also have a few young defensemen in general that can benefit from watching a role model like McQuaid. Along with Skjei, Anthony DeAngelo and Neal Pionk made the opening night roster. They can see McQuaid’s defensive abilities and try to follow by his example.

While the trade for Adam McQuaid was puzzling initially, it makes sense when you look at his tenure in Boston. He has a track record of working well with younger defense partners and is a strong defensive presence whenever he is on the ice.

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His shutdown style of play complements the current Rangers defense well and can help allow some of the other defensemen to jump in on offense. This move was a small one in the grand scheme of the rebuild, but it could turn out to be very beneficial. McQuaid’s years of NHL experience, regular season and playoffs, doesn’t hurt either.