The Montreal Canadiens have an abundance of healthy defencemen at both the NHL and AHL levels. This surplus could lead to a trade in the near future, but in the meantime, the team will see some heated internal competition for the remaining roster spots.
Jordan Harris is one of the players that many fans and analysts suggest could be used in a trade, and while there’s certainly merit in improving the offensive prowess of the team, Kent Hughes and Co. should be careful when analyzing Harris’ impact.
After a very successful rookie season that saw Harris and Johnathan Kovacevic produce dominant numbers as a defensive pairing, many were expecting Harris to start the 2023-24 campaign on the right foot.
But that was not the case.
Like most blueliners on the team, Harris struggled in the first quarter of the season. His numbers went from encouraging to concerning, a stark downtick that put his long-term spot in the rebuild in doubt.
To make matters worse, Harris suffered a lower-body injury in November which forced him to sit out for over a month. A slow start to the season combined with an injury that impacts mobility could be a death knell for many players.
But Harris’ return to play has yielded some very interesting and surprising results.
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Before the injury, Harris ranked fifth among defencemen in shot share and expected goals. He was also dead last in goal share, with the Canadiens controlling a little over 35 percent of the goals while he was on the ice.
He did manage to control over 50 percent of the high-danger chances, which indicated there was a chance his numbers would rebound, but for the most part, his underlying stats were below replacement level.
Since returning from the injured reserve, Harris’ numbers haven’t just surged. They’ve returned to dominant levels.
He enjoyed a significant uptick in shot share (CF%), high-danger shot share (HDCF%), goal share (GF%), and expected goal share (xGF%), as evidenced by the chart posted above.
In fact, he has led all defencemen in those four important statistical categories since December 28.
Playing alongside Jayden Struble has added a stabilizing factor to Harris’ pairing, though we should point out that the numbers indicate Harris has improved Struble’s stats as well.
We’re dealing with a small sample size. Harris has only played six games since recovering from the lower-body issue, but all signs point to a player who has found his rhythm.
That’s great news for both the Montreal Canadiens and Harris, who has quickly reminded everyone he should not be considered a throw-in when discussing trades.
Jordan Harris with a ripper and it's 3-1 Habs! pic.twitter.com/9PLDqh2JNA
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 3, 2024
All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via Natural Stat Trick.