Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coaches’ Corner: Glen Gulutzan

After Marc Crawford was released from his duties as head coach of the Stars, Dallas began their search for his successor. According to Stars’ GM Joe Nieuwendyk, one of the reasons for the firing was that, after playing so long under Dave Tippett, the Stars’ players could not adjust to Crawford’s offensive system. As such, the search began for someone with a style more similar to Tippett’s, and, after the dust had settled, one man was left standing – Glen Gulutzan.

The Dallas Stars have played an integral role in my fantasy teams over the past few years: for some reason, the Stars’ players always seemed be undervalued even though they played in Crawford’s up-tempo system. Unfortunately though, it’s looking like this will no longer be a strategy of mine.

As I do after any team makes a coaching change, I took a look at what effect, if any, Gulutzan could have on their team’s output. What did I come up with? Take a look below at the rankings of Gulutzan’s teams over the past 5 years.

Year Team League Offense Defense
Las Vegas Wranglers
13th of 20
2nd of 20
Las Vegas Wranglers
9th of 20
3rd of 20
Las Vegas Wranglers
18th of 20
5th of 20
Texas Stars
12th of 30
2nd of 30
Texas Stars
26nd of 30
6th of 30

Implementing a coaching style Gulutzan himself describes as “hard-nosed two-way hockey with some tempo”, one can see two clear-cut trends by looking at these rankings.
  • Gulutzan brings a stifling defence: his teams are always in the upper echelon of the league.
  • Gulutzan is going to destroy your offense: he cracked the top half in the offensive rankings as many times as he was stuck in the bottom 15%.
With the performances Stars’ players like Jamie Benn, Mike Riberio, Loui Eriksson and Alex Goligoski had last year, many people will be tempted to take them early in their fantasy drafts. While they all will still get their fair share of points and such, Gulutzan’s system added with the loss of Brad Richards production from the Stars’ lineup means that fantasy owners should definitely lower their expectations for any Star skater.

On the other side of the pendulum, however, lies Kari Lehtonen, who, after managing to stay healthy for an entire season, had one of the best seasons of his career in ’10-’11, posting a 0.914 save percentage and 2.55 goals against average. With Gulutzan’s defensive system in place, I would expect Lehtonen to put up even better numbers this season and make a solid goaltending option – provided you are willing to take on his mangled body and the medical chart that comes with him!

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