Luke Glendening is the Perfect 4th Liner

Luke Glendening after sniping a beauty pass Scott Wedgewood this season.

We like to throw the word contract around a lot in Detroit, usually immediately followed by some sort of ritualistic cleansing lest Ken Holland sign someone else to 4 years. Slightly below that in terms of things we like to complain about is “Bottom 6 forwards”, which I don’t think anyone will disagree we have too many of. Poor Luke Glendening, entering his 5th season on the Red Wings, exists at the intersection of these two things. Yet, of all the players we’ve locked down for a multi year deal to play bottom line minutes, Luke Glendening is the only one I really like right now.

That’s because he’s been damn good in his role this season.

So far in 28 games, Glendening has 6 goals and 1 assist this season. He is half way to hitting his career high in goals (12 in ’14-’15) on a Red Wings team that barely manages to hold their own every other night. He’s a third of the way towards getting his career high in points (21 in ’15-’16’ when he also came in 40th for Selke voting which is something I did not know). But his goals are a bonus, because Glendening is that stereotypical player that we talk about so much, the player that lives and dies on a diet of Grit and Intangibles.

This is where Glendening has shined this season, in his role as a shutdown fourth liner. With the increase in penalties this season Glendening has been given the opportunity to embrace this role even more than he already does with good results. He leads our team in defensive zone starts percentage with 60.7%, third on the team in average short handed TOI a game.

A huge part of starting in the defensive zone and playing the PK is winning faceoffs. So how does he stack up in those areas?

Not only does Luke lead our team in faceoff win percentage at 60.1%, he is third in the league in faceoff win % among players taking more than 100 faceoffs so far (Ryan O’Reilly with 61.2 and Antoine Vermette with 60.8%, if you were curious). He is a huge reason that our team sits at an 82% penalty kill this season. His strong play on the PK extends beyond getting the puck in the defensive zone. More times than I can count, he has been there with Larkin this season to make an offensive rush happen short handed without causing a defensive lapse that goes the other way, or just simply hemming in the other team like a pair of angry hornets.

Outside of special teams, he’s still making his presence known to the other team. He’s second on the team in hits, second in shots to get through to the net, third in blocked shots. He’s playing a well rounded game in a specific role and is doing a better job than he ever has before this season. With so many people talking about players regressing under Jeff Blashill, it’s nice to see someone taking a step forward.

The best part of all of this? At 1.8M in cap hit, he’s one of the best values on the team for what he brings to the table. When we look at players like Justin Abdelkader or Jonathan Ericsson, we see average or perhaps one dimensional players with huge numbers attached to them. Frans Nielsen is have a horrid year on faceoffs and he’s making 5.25M to do so. Even Darren Helm is essentially signed for the exact same role as LGD just for almost 2M more a year to do it. We have plenty of bad contracts to give us ulcers. With Luke Glendening, we don’t have anything like that worry about.

All we have to do is watch him do his thing.


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