After the Rick Nash deal fell through, the Rangers made a minor move in sending a fifth round pick in this year’s draft to Chicago for defenseman John Scott. The first thing someone will notice about Scott is that he is big, listed at 6’8 and 258 lbs, the dude is a big boy. The undrafted defenseman, who is also capable of playing left wing, played four years at Michigan Tech before catching on with the Houston Aeros.
Scott got his first shot in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild, playing 71 games over two seasons with the Wild, putting together a line of 1-2-3 with 111 PIMS. So clearly, Scott is not an offensive threat. He finished with a -4 rating, but that’s neither here nor there. In 69 games with the Blackhawks over two seasons, he recorded two assists and another 120 PIMs, upping his total to 231 PIMs.
Per Hockeyfights.com, Scott has fought 54 times in the AHL and NHL, and never lost a fight. That’s right, he is a perfect 54-0 in fighting over his career. He’s so good that Floyd Mayweather has already declined the option to fight him. With Brandon Prust hurting, and Mike Sauer out indefinitely, Scott adds some much needed fighting skill on the blue line or the fourth line, wherever he plays.
Perhaps Scott’s most useful attribute is that he is capable of playing defense and wing. Much like Stu Bickel, this gives the Rangers tremendous flexibility in matching up with opponents. The Rangers have a lot of games coming up against physical opponents, and an extra big body to protect the likes of Marian Gaborik (as we saw yesterday, it’s needed) isn’t going to hurt. The ability to dress all of Prust, Rupp, Bickel, and Scott will go a long way to keeping some of the dirtier teams at bay.
The obvious sacrifice with someone like Scott is his play with his gloves on and his stick in his hand. His -0.5 OGVT isn’t all that surprising, as Scott really doesn’t add much offensively. His 0.4 DGVT is still below Steve Eminger (1.1 DGVT), Stu Bickel (0.8 DGVT) and Jeff Woywitka (0.5 DGVT), which again isn’t all that surprising. Scott is a tough guy, and although they have their flaws, they still serve a purpose, especially against teams like Philadelphia, Boston, and New Jersey.
As for his peripherals, his Qualcomp (-.180) is very low, so he has been seeing nothing but bottom lines and bottom pairings this year. Again, this is not unexpected for a player like Scott. What is surprising is his positive relative Corsi (0.3), which is a puck possession metric. A positive relative Corsi means that Scott in fact has had less shots directed at his net (blocked, missed, saved, or goals) than his team has directed at the opposition’s net while he is on the ice. The difference is marginal, but it’s still a positive difference nonetheless.
Combining his Qualcomp and Corsi with his 65.2% offensive zone starts, and you get exactly what you think you’re getting with Scott: a big, tough defenseman who can only play against bottom line forwards. He is a matchup player, someone designed to give the Rangers added flexibility. He is no more than a 7-8 minute player, designed to match up against the other team’s tough guys.
So with Rupp, Prust, and Bickel in the mix, why did the Rangers pick up Scott? The answer may be tough to see, but may have been more obvious last night. Prust didn’t look like he wanted to fight Eric Boulton, and it showed when both of Prust’s gloves were still on when Boulton started throwing punches. Prust left the fight wincing. Rupp hasn’t fought since the 2/7 game against the Devils, and it appears he has been nursing a sore hand as well.
With Sauer out of the lineup, that leaves two injured players and Bickel as the only guys who are healthy enough to throw down without any injury concerns. Against the aforementioned teams, that is going to be a problem. Scott will give someone like Prust the option of fighting, as opposed to the current need to fight. Scott is not going to be an every day player, but he is definitely more cost effective as a scratch ($525,000 cap hit) than Wojtek Wolski.