When coming into the National Hockey League, players obviously set high expectations for themselves. Despite the desire to make an immediate impact, many players fall into the lull of safe and comfortable play. Players tend to make more conservative plays and try to avoid any kind of risk, fearing demotion. What happens when a player who isn’t adverse to risk shows up and has the skill set to back it up? You would probably get a player that looks a little like Shayne Gostisbehere.
The Flyer defenseman is having a year many dream about and is doing it on a big stage in Philadelphia. The smaller than average player has always had his doubters. When he talked to USA Today, he touched on it a little bit:
“It’s always been a prove-people-wrong sort of thing for me, but it’s all about the end results. You can be a first-round pick or a late bloomer and still get the same results.”
Speaking of results, Gostisbehere is tearing the league up, not just as a rookie but as an NHL defenseman. He just had his 15-game point scoring streak snapped. Before that another good defenseman held the point scoring record: Brian Leetch. That is a record that has been held since 1996 which is nothing to scoff at whatsoever. While that record goes back to the mid-90s, let us put Gostisbehere in the context of the past decade or so.
Taking a look at the similarity chart above, you can see that “Ghost Bear” as many call him is having as efficient a year in the past 10 years. His numbers are up there with the 70-plus point season that Mike Green had – a year that was unheard of in the modern era of hockey (except for Erik Karlsson this year but that is a whole other post entirely).
His time in the league hasn’t been long and plentiful yet, but Gostisbehere is setting quite a precedent for himself. The Norris Trophy is going to only be a pipe dream but people voting for the Calder Trophy should take notice of his play.
Maybe players around the league should take notice as Gostisbehere came into the league with nothing to lose and it has paid off in dividends.