Photo Credit: NHL.com

What to Expect from Jalen Chatfield

With injuries on the back-end piling up, The Vancouver Canucks have opted to recall 22-year-old, right-side defender, Jalen Chatfield.

Chatfield has been playing tremendous hockey for the Utica Comets and has been their best defenceman. When in the line-up he’s been deployed on the teams top pairing with Olli Juolevi. The combo has displayed instant chemistry as their playing styles compliment each other almost perfectly.

I recently wrote about what Canucks fans can expect from Juolevi here, but what does Jalen Chatfield have in his tool-box? Here’s a brief summary of what to expect from the recent call-up if he draws into the lineup.

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As you can see on the chart, Chatfield has been incredibly efficient moving the puck. Not only is he leading the Comets with a controlled exit rate of 52.73%, but he also has the lowest direct fail rate of 7.27%. This is an exceptionally low number, as he’s only iced or turned the puck over in the defensive zone eight times on 110 touches. To give that number some context, consider Erik Gudbranson had seven defensive zone fails in the first two periods alone last night versus Chicago on 16 touches. Furthermore, Chatfield has the teams second lowest team fail rate at 4.55%, which means he’s rarely putting his teammates in bad positions with the puck in when trying to exit the zone.

With recent findings showing that controlled exits are a better predictor of a defender’s goals-for ratio than Corsi, Chatfield’s puck-moving ability gives fans a legitimate reason to be excited about his game.

Here’s a quick look at some of Chatfield’s work this season, pretty slick!

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This gif sums up what you can expect from Chatfield. He breaks up a play in the neutral zone, utilizes his plus skating ability to gain possession of the puck, and makes a quick pass, the legwork is done and now the team is transitioning to offence.


Chatfield weaponizes his speed while defending aggressively in the neutral zone which creates plenty of turnovers while preventing opponents from gaining entry to the attacking zone. He’s been breaking up plays in the neutral zone consistently as you can see by his team-leading rate of 20.37%. Pair this with his team-best controlled entries against rate of 33.33%, and you have yourself an elite AHL neutral zone defender.

These numbers are a proven predictor of a defender’s future goals against. Another reason to be excited about Chatfield!

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Chatfield isn’t going to wow you with his offensive vision or creativity. He keeps it simple offensively, his job is to gain possession of the puck and move it to the forwards which he’s been very good at it this year.

In my opinion, Chatfield’s the most NHL ready defender on the Comets roster and has zipped by Alex Biega on the organization’s depth chart of right-side blue-liners. Additionally, he may be a better option than the struggling Erik Gudbranson right now. Will he get an opportunity to show it? I hope so!

If Chatfield can continue to grow and carry over the success he’s having in the AHL this year, he has a shot at becoming a modern, speedy, defensive-minded blue-liner who can move the puck. If he can continue to progress, this right-handed defenceman is found gold!

  • Holly Wood

    I appreciate your article on Chatfield’s progress to date and believe he may become a player. But really…… the “struggling Eric Gudbranson “.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Geez I thought Hutton and Gudbranson were playing their best hockey of the year as the #1 pair, with Tanev and Edler injured. Not perfect by any means but certainly both have played darn well.

      • Holly Wood

        I believe most of us are happy with both Hutton and Gudbranson’s play of late. For some reason Darryl Keeping has been nipping at his heels ever since he got this gig. He (that’s you Darryl) does some good work with video and analysis but this pileing on some players is getting a little stale. Ffs man , Guddy is playing huge minutes and currently holding his own even though the team is dressing 5-6 AHLplayers.

        • Cageyvet

          It’s an ongoing failure of this site. Don’t like player x’s play, or a trade/signing/whatever by management? Write a piece on it, I have no problem with people having opinions. Please stop inserting them again and again into unrelated stories. Chatfield – is he a true NHL prospect or not? That’s what I care about, not whether he is better than this or that player. It’s not just tiresome,

          • Cageyvet

            (Continued) it’s not just tiresome, it serves no purpose. Break out the analysis and compare him to the league and similar prospects. We aren’t looking to just be told there’s some stinky trash to take out, we’d also like to hear if the new trash bag is going to leak like the last one, just in a different spot….

            I have high hopes for Chatfield, based on nothing but decent play in the limited viewings I’ve had and my desperation to get some good right-side D on the team. Lets hope he gets a look, but even just getting the call will keep the fire burning in him.

          • North Van Halen

            The Canucks have given up 2 goals or less in 7 of their last 11 games. 2 goals in 2 straight wins vs. Chicago & Minnie without Tanev & Edler.

            Is that good defensively?! I think thats good but I guess we’re struggling. I’m asking for a friend cuz he thought 2 goals against was good!? But I guess we’re struggling.

          • North Van Halen

            Just remember it’s a stats thing. Vancouver could win every game by 12, go 82 – 0 but if the zone entries are negative or the corsi is below 50% it doesn’t mean they’re winning.

            The biggest failing of stats analysis is they can’t see the forest cuz all the damn trees get in the way. Insteada micro analyzing the numbers, step back and appreciate the overall picture. Giving up 2 goals and winning is not struggling no matter what fancy stats say.

  • Bud Poile

    Stetcher sounds good to go in his interview on CDC:
    Rick Dhaliwal
    ‏ @DhaliwalSports
    I get the sense the Chatfield callup is more precautionary, get the sense that Stecher should be fine.
    Should know more today. #Canucks

  • wojohowitz

    Chatfield won`t make it into a game unless there are more injuries, as he will replace Brisebois in the press box. That is the Canuck version of how to develop players. Contrast that with Chicago with their salary cap issues and seasonal turnover where we see a half dozen new names every time they come to town. What we should be seeing is the Canucks best three or four defensemen (McEneny, Sautner, Brisebois and Chatfield) in a minimum of ten games a season with limited minutes. Juolevi excluded because his biggest issue is self-confidence and telling him he is a potential call-up will only lead to sleepless nights. A full season in Utica with no distractions is needed.

  • BBoone

    There is no data to suggest that few minutes in the NHL is better development that lots of minutes in the AHL and a lot of data to suggest otherwise . When the Canucks are on a home stand and 7 8 D positions can be filled with prospects who can be part of practice and being with the team . The Canucks aren’t winning the cup this year , there is no hurry a and he is needed in Utica.

    • Killer Marmot

      It’s a good idea to let prospects understand the level of competition they’ll be facing in the NHL by playing some games. The coaches can go over the tapes and show them where they need to improve.

      As well, a taste of the NHL might drive prospects to work even harder in the minors.

      So far as your data, perhaps you could cite that.

      • truthseeker

        yep. It goes far beyond just the playing in games aspect. There is a psychological element to bringing guys up. Giving them a taste of “the good life” in the NHL. Seeing how hard the players work. How fast the game is thought in comparison, even if it’s just in practice. Plus that NHL pay check for the time they are up. Don’t think for a second that getting that league minimum won’t have a huge impact on a young player, and then having to go back down and collect whatever their minor league salary is.

        I have no doubt that AHL development helps and is necessary for many a player. But I also believe that it’s become a crutch that is assumed to be needed for many others. Especially by fans. Fact is, the vast majority of the very best NHL players spend little to no time at all in the AHL.

        A guy like Demko is a good example in my opinion. Top goalie (arguably) in his draft class and he’s been babied too much. Should have been in the NHL last year minimum, learning the league. He’s already way older than most of the greats were when they started in the league. Roy, Brodeur, Price, etc.

        Even guys like Burrows, Bieksa and Kesler who are the “model” types for AHL “development” spend just over a season there. Like a season and a quarter. Then they were up performing.

        Chatfield is getting almost exactly to that point where it’s his time for a shot.

      • Fred-65

        A quick intro to the NHL certainly settles a prospect down when the time comes he’s needed. He know the players, he knows the routine, he knows whats expected, and he understand the speed of the game. No matter how long you play in the AHL you can’t glean these important aspects of being an NHL player in Utica. Part of the process. Frankly of what little I’ve seen of Chatfield he seems quite reasonably to have a future in the NHL

  • canuckfan

    Good to see that we have some good defencemen developing in Utica there will be some real changes coming to the Canucks lineup in the next few years. All this depth will help Benning with making deals at the trade deadline. MDZ will be gone at the end of the season unless he is signed to help develop prospects in Utica. As good as Hutton has been he may grab some interest if they resign Edler which I think they should do we could have a pretty good left side with Juolevi and Hughes getting a year older a little bit bigger Edler can help the team with a decline in minutes as he gets older which hopefully would help him stay in the lineup and remain healthy

  • Matty T

    Where is Juolevi. These farm call ups are sending a clear message that the likes of Chatfield, Biega and Brisebois are better options for the NHL team than a number five overall. Not good.

    • North Van Halen

      Ummm he’s actually playing. You know developing. The call ups are sitting, which is why they just switched JC & GB. Cuz the 7th dman doesn’t actually play unless someone gets hurt.
      I’m just going to have to take an educated guess that there’s no point bringing up the guy you want developed the most to watch and not play. So nothing bad here (unless you come from the church of PQW)

      • Matty T

        There is more to it than that. Experiencing the NHL lifestyle you dreamed of all your life, practicing and learning with the NHL team/coaches, watching and learning first hand at the games, cashing an NHL check and of course being called upon when/if needed.

        I am of the opinion that any NHL experience is more important than playing in the minors, especially when you are drafted at the same spot as Petterssen and your NHL D is so depleted. Juolevi should be up over Chatfield and Brisebois imo. Concerning.

        • North Van Halen

          Concerning is Juolevi coming up and playing badly. Juolevi not coming up and to sit and watch is only concerning if you’re hoping to judge him on how he looks in a suit.

    • kermit

      I assume it’s probably the coaching staff, both here and in Utica, who make these decisions. Overall, they seem to be a reasonably compentent group, we should trust them.

  • speering major

    Really like what I’ve seen out of Chatfield but I haven’t seen much. I think he can make it. Given what I’ve seen, his age, and reports like this, I think he could surpass MDZ, Pouliot, Biega, and Gudbranson by the end of the season. There are plenty of pieces in the pipeline for the rest of the roster, but RHD is desperate. Someone pushing Stetcher for minutes would be a huge upgrade

    Glad to see him get rewarded with a nice paycheck and some time with the club