A quick look at Brett Howden on the wing

Howden has been on the wing for 10 games now

One of the first big coaching decisions coach David Quinn has made with his young roster is to move Brett Howden from center to wing. This first happened in Game 35 against the Ducks, and Howden has stayed there since. It’s a move that I had speculated needed to happen over the summer, and with his struggles defensively, taking away some of that burden was the smart move.

Since that move 11 games ago, Howden has visually appeared better and more comfortable. He’s certainly less noticeable in the defensive zone, which is a compliment all things considered. His xGF% on a game-by-game basis has fluctuated wildly from a high of 83.86% against Anaheim in that first game to a low of of 1.05% against the Hurricanes two games later. That doesn’t necessarily tell any story though, just the highs and lows. There’s obviously more here, even if it’s just 11 games.

His rolling xGF% is just that, rolling. The 12/14 game is the dot on the line. There’s no real sign of improvement, but he’s at least up from his valley at the end of November. It’s only 11 games so this is a very early analysis. This is also a comprehensive look at his offensive and defensive impact, so perhaps it’s best if we separate out the offensive impact, since the defensive impact is a work in progress for both player and team.

His isolated expected goals for is shown here, again with the 12/14 game noted by the dot. There was a huge uptick at the initial start of things, with a big drop off in the 1/2 game against Calgary. Bad games happen, and that was a huge drop off, but at least offensively Howden appears to be finding his game.

One last item to look at is overall game score, in which Howden has been trending up since the move to wing, another positive sign. His isolated offensive impact is, at the very least, starting to drive better overall play. Still a small sample size, but optimism for the win!

The move to wing was a needed move for Howden to simplify his game. The immediate returns aren’t Earth shattering, but any small improvement is a good one for another player that was considered a lynchpin in the Ryan McDonagh trade. There’s still a long ways to go, but at least the Rangers may be able to salvage something here.

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  • This is really good stuff David, we really appreciate it.

    Howden is who he is. Does not really drive play, as Chytil does all the heavy lifting on that line.

    Howden is just one of many replaceable forwards on the Rangers. And with a deep defensive prospect pool in the pipeline, it is a priority for the Rangers to get young, NHL ready forwards this coming trade deadline, without cornering the market on bottom 6 forwards. They need some top 6 help, assuming players like Kreider and Buch are being traded.

    • I respectfully see Howden differently. I see a 21 (22 in March) year old with fight in him. He will grow into the large 6′ 3″ frame thats already 200lbs. I see him as Fast 3.0

      He is an important piece that will prove to you in time, Howden will become excellent.

      I said years ago that Kevin Hayes was young, had glimpses of flash but was not there yet in his maturity. He is today an important player on a winning club. He now plays more manly and aggressive and wins battles he lost his first few seasons.

      Howden is going to start to beat others and win the battles he can not today.

      thats MO


      • Agreed, the issue with charts and graphs is that they are like driving a car while looking in the rear view mirror. Useful in their way, but they miss what lies ahead.

      • Howden doesn’t have game IQ as Fast…. Nothing u can do about it, frame doesn’t make player to be good in it

      • Respectfully, Howden has no puck possession skills whatsoever. So he needs linemates that are basically doing all the work for him, because he can’t do it.

        So if that makes Howden a good hockey player, then so be it, but it does not fit my definition of a good hockey player.

        Howden is Vesey without scoring 17 goals per year.

        • Cheers… Vesey without the goals… But he is young and seems to be growing in terms of his relentless play… I hope the best for him

          Your point is correct though… For now


          • He is young, no question, but what is it that you see that I don’t? That shows that he has the skill to play in this league?

            Chytil, Kakko, Fox, they are young but you see their skill, and that, with time, they will take the next steps going forward. I don’t see it with Howden. He’s a 4th liner IMO.

  • I find it very interesting that DQ took over a season to figure out that Howden wasn’t the man for the center position, and finally made a move to rectify the problem. How many on this site made this very point from the beginning? Smart man this DQ isn’t he?

    I tend to agree with Tony above, that we need to get some quality forwards, especially top six players, and if moving Brett out helps get these assets, so be it. I like this kid, he works hard, but his skill set is lacking. If they don’t move Brett I can see him as a fourth liner in the future.

    On a side note, the organization won’t trade Howden because they then would have to admit they made a bad move to trade Mac Truck, and he being a part of the return on that deal!!!!!!! Just thinking out loud here?????

    • “Coach David Quinn said he would be tempted to go back to Georgiev on Thursday, but he also has two other goalies on the roster in Henrik Lundqvist and Igor Shesterkin”. This quote came from an article in the NY Post today.

      Enough on this “Meritocracy” non-sense, if Georgiev played well, but may not play the next game, then please don’t use this term again, your full of garbage DQ!!!!!!!!!

      • McDonagh was a great Ranger who was paid under market value while he was here. To suggest that he was overrated as a Ranger means you should start studying the game a bit.

        Now? No question he’s slightly overpaid, but it’s not the Rangers’ problem. If there’s no salary cap, he’s still the captain and #1 defenseman on the Rangers.

  • IMHO, I am just impatiently waiting, when they switch 🍞 Man and Howman… That’s it

    But as always Dave, thx, u r doing a lot of good job in respect

  • I don’t get why everyone hates oh howden. When we made the trade i didn’t read one report that said top line upside let alone top 6. … which quite frankly you usually dont get in deadline deals.

    Hes looked better on the wing bc he can park around the net and use his size rather than be a distributor. I think he can be an effective depth player in this league. And that’s ok.

    • Howden plays small for his size—he’s weak on his skates and gets knocked off the puck way too easily for a supposedly physical player. Horrible defensively, most of his NHL goals have been garbage goals, and he hasn’t displayed much in the way of skill or creativity. His best asset is being a coach’s pet. That’s why a lot of people don’t like him—he sucks.

      • You just described Jimmy Vesey (with the exception of the physicality part). Sounds like a reasonable comparison and probably a good barometer for expectations.

        • Vesey’s been a better NHL player than Howden, though, at least prior to this season. He had 50 goals over 3 seasons as a Ranger. At Howden’s current rate of production he’ll score his 50th NHL goal in his sixth season. I wasn’t much of a Vesey fan either.

          • True, but Vesey played 4 years in college before playing professional hockey. He was 23 when he made his NHL debut. Howden was 20. Different development paths. We’ll see how Howden progresses on the wing.

    • Agentsmith

      I don’t get where your coming from with the remark “I don’t get why everyone hates oh howden.”

      Howden has been given more than his fair share of breaks, and support, and being DQ’s lap boy, playing time that he really didn’t deserve. Having stated that, I see him as a 4th line guy, with very little skill, and I’ll root for him because he wears the Ranger blue sweater. No hate here!!!!!

      • Has he struggled at times or even many a time ? Sure. However at least he can skate down the ice at an nhl level, tough standards I know.

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