Off-side: A history of Carson Soucy’s ability to play on the right
Photo credit:© Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
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Balance is important in the sport of hockey.
It’s how players stay on their skates. It’s how teams manage their salary books. And, typically, it’s how coaches build up their bluelines.
The blueline of the Vancouver Canucks has been ‘under construction’ for some time now, with several sweeping changes coming in the last calendar year.
Of those who started out with the Canucks last season, only Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers remain. They’re joined by recent additions Filip Hronek, Ian Cole, Carson Soucy, and Matt Irwin, along with a collection of hopefuls that includes Christian Wolanin, Noah Juulsen, Jack Rathbone, and others.
One issue, as we see it, is that teams usually like to keep defenders on their natural side, but only three of the players listed above are RHD: Hronek, Myers, and Juulsen.
So, unless the Canucks want Myers in the top-four again and Juulsen in the lineup every night, neither of which should be a goal, the most likely solution appears to be having one of the LHD play on their off-side.
When last we met, we took a good look at Cole’s extensive history of playing on the right, and concluded that he was the most likely candidate by far. But he’s not the only recent UFA with a habit of swapping sides. The same is also true for Soucy, and below we’ll do a deep dive into his time on the right.
Carson Soucy: 2022/23
Again, we ask for patience here as we attempt to research a topic that is frustratingly indecipherable at the best of times. Nobody really seems to keep track of whether a defender is playing LD or RD on any given night, never mind any given shift, and so the only way to figure it out is to go back and watch the tapes, or cobble it together from a bunch of tools designed for other purposes.
We went with the latter method.
An investigation into how much Soucy played on the right in this past season doesn’t take very long, because he really didn’t, actually.
From Dobber’s Frozen Tools
Soucy spent almost all of his even-strength ice-time in 2022/23 partnering with either Will Borgen or Justin Schultz. They’re two very different defenders, but both are natural RHDs who play fairly exclusively on that side.
So, for almost all of last season, Soucy stayed a LHD, only occasionally taking shifts on the right side of Jamie Oleksiak or Vince Dunn.
The same was true while shorthanded, and it was true in the playoffs, too: Soucy played pretty much exclusively with Borgen and Schultz, and he played pretty much exclusively on the left.
Soucy in Prior Seasons
So, where does Soucy’s rep as someone who can play both sides come from?
Prior seasons, obviously!
One only has to go back to 2021/22, Soucy’s first with the Seattle Kraken (and everyone’s first with the Seattle Kraken, really.)
In that year, Soucy’s top three partners were all LHD in Oleksiak, Dunn, and Mark Giordano.
From Dobber’s Frozen Tools
Now, both Oleksiak and Dunn have also been known to swap, but in these instances it seems that it was usually Soucy who would play on his off-side.
Soucy still played some with Adam Larsson and Borgen in 2021/22, but the bulk of his time was spent on RD, and his on-ice results were comparable to his typical performance on his natural side. Soucy and Giordano, in particular, formed one of Seattle’s most effective defensive pairings.
Soucy also killed a lot of penalties alongside Oleksiak that year, indicating an ability to PK on the right, which might be vital in Vancouver.
Back in 2020/21, Soucy was a member of his original team, the Minnesota Wild, and spent more than 78% of his even-strength ice-time beside a very familiar player: Ian Cole himself.
As we stated in the Cole article, these two LHDs spent almost all of their time together, and while there was plenty of switching back and forth, it does seem that the veteran Cole was the designated “RD” of the two over the sophomore Soucy.
Together, the two managed to be on the ice for 35 goals for and only 14 against, a considerable record for an ostensible third pairing.
Soucy did get some reps on RD that year, too, playing beside Jonas Brodin, but that only represented 10% of his ice-time.
And with that, we’re already back in 2019/20, Soucy’s rookie season (having played just three games the year prior.)
This was the season in which Canucks fans got familiar with Soucy in the bubble playoffs, as he became a notable member of the Minnesota blueline pretty much right off the bat.
As a rookie, Soucy spent about 40% of his ice-time partnered with veteran LHD and future Canuck Brad Hunt. Dobber’s says that Soucy was the RD on that pairing, MoneyPuck says it was Hunt. In digging into some old lineup cards and line-rush tweets, it seems to be that, more often that not, it was Hunt who swapped over to the right, allowing the first-year Soucy to stay on the left.
But 30% of his rookie campaign was also spent next to a LHD in Brodin, and in those instances Soucy was definitely playing on the right. Brodin was also Soucy’s most-frequent PK partner.
The bubble playoffs saw Soucy stay on the left, of Hunt in three games and of RHD Jared Spurgeon in another.
And that’s it! Soucy’s career has not been an extensive one at all, leaving his track-record a fairly quick read-over.
What we’ve found is that, while Soucy doesn’t have the same history or frequency of playing on his off-side as Cole, it’s certainly something that should be considered a part of his repertoire. In fact, Soucy has spent close to a third of his career playing RD, and has been part of some very strong defensive pairings along the way.
Based on the evidence, we do expect Cole to get the first shot at switching over, but we’d also be surprised if Soucy didn’t get some right-side reps as the 2023/24 season wears on. He, too, will likely get his chance at pairing with Hughes — but the initial plan is probably still for Soucy to start out on the left and pair with Hronek.
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