The Key Stat: Although Brenden Dillon and John Carlson played together as Washington’s first pair for most of the season, Dillon seemed to play much better away from Carlson. Mainly, Dillon even-strength goals % was 64.3% without Carlson...but only 51.1% with him.
The Good: It took awhile and a lot of experimenting, but it seems like Brenden Dillon’s ideal defensive partner is...Trevor van Riemsdyk? Although the two didn’t start playing together until the midpoint of the year, the two hit it off almost instantly. While playing with van Riemsdyk at 5v5, Dillon had a 58.1% expected goal share, a 53% goal share, and the two dominated in shot attempts as well.
The interesting thing is that playing Dillon with van Riemsdyk requires the Caps to rethink Dillon’s role a bit. Dillon, when acquired, was billed as a “stay at home” defensemen who would pair nicely with a more offensive-minded d-partner. However, van Riemsdyk is as defensive as they come and Dillon has not played well with the offensively-minded John Carlson (or Justin Schultz)...so perhaps Dillon was miscast in his role. If the Caps did find a good partner for him, it’s fortunate timing too, as the Caps had him signed for another 3 years at 3.9 million.
The Bad: Although Dillon seemed to find a rhythm with TvR, he wasn’t exactly great while playing with other Caps defensemen, as J.P. detailed in April:
Seems bad - each of the three D that Dillon has skated 20+ minutes with this season has been markedly better away from him than with him. pic.twitter.com/5e2KDrrODx— Japers’ Rink (@JapersRink) April 16, 2021
Further, the Caps have Dillon signed for another 3 years at nearly $4 million per, all while Dillon provides essentially no offensive value. That contract can still be forgivable while Dillon has defensive value, but if that drops off...watch out.
The Discussion: The Caps aren’t likely to find any takers for Dillon’s contract, so they’re going to have to find a way to maximize Dillon’s talent. What kind of role is the best for him? Is pairing him with someone like Van Riemsdyk the key to unlocking Dillon’s value, or was that a short-term flash in the pan? Further, if Dillon’s defensive value drops next year, do the Caps look to try to move on from him? Finally, what would it take for you to give him a 10 next year?
The Other Dillon Season Reviews: Coming soon!
The Vote: Rate Brenden Dillon below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
How do you rate Brenden Dillon’s 2020-21 season?
This poll is closed