Without looking, can you tell me who the Mallards’ leader in plus/minus is right now?
The answer is Nick Grasso at +12. I wouldn’t have guessed that myself before looking. He has been very under the radar since he doesn’t have a lot of points. You could argue that a couple players (Logan Nelson and Joe Perry) may have been able to overtake him in plus/minus had they played as many games as he has, but no guarantees. Either way, Grasso brings a couple things to his game that some of the higher profile players don’t.
One of those things is versatility. Grasso has been all over the lineup. He’s played defense and forward, and on many different lines and pairings (almost certainly more than any other player). Coach has had to use tons of combinations due to callups and injuries, so Grasso’s versatility has been very important.
He is a difference-maker. When Grasso ends up on the plus side, the Mallards are 15-1-0-0 on the season. When he ends up in the minus column, they are 1-9-1-0. He got to +12 on the season with only 13 points (5G, 8A).
There is another stat that might actually be more impressive than his plus/minus: Grasso has 8 PIM on the entire season. Only 4 minors in 53 games. Among players who have played a similar number of games, the next lowest PIM total is Matt Duffy with 20 PIM. Pretty good, but this is more than double Grasso’s total. Another thing that makes this impressive to me is Grasso still plays pretty physical. You’d think just due to bad luck he might get more than 4 penalties.
Someone might say that Grasso gets less ice time than some of the other players get, so he has less chances to take penalties. I wish I had stats on ice time to know for sure. However, if Grasso does get less ice time, then it makes his plus/minus stat even more impressive. Someone could also say Grasso usually matches up against the other teams’ 2nd or 3rd lines. This might be true, but again, hard to know exactly how true.
All of this says a number of things about Grasso. He is almost always in position. He rarely gets beat and has to take a penalty. He makes clean hits. He doesn’t let pests get under his skin. He’s a great depth player that makes very few mistakes with the puck. He’s been extremely valuable to the Mallards this year.