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2021-22 Player Review: Justin Braun was so much fun the first time we’re doing it again

The veteran defenseman is back for one more season. How’d the last one go?

NHL: MAR 18 Flyers at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There may not be a more boring player on the Flyers roster than Justin Braun, but that’s not meant in a demeaning way. Rarely will he win or lose you a game; there may be some games where you don’t even notice him on the ice. However, in the age of offensive defenseman, Braun has continued to stay in the league despite being a stay at home defenseman.

It was Braun’s 12th season in the league and third with the Flyers since coming over from the San Jose Sharks. He was traded at the deadline to the New York Rangers who were looking for a veteran defenseman while they made their playoff run. He played in 19 playoff games for the Rangers, recording one assist before the team was eliminated in the Conference Finals by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Basic Stats

Basic Stats

GP G A PTS PIM S S%
GP G A PTS PIM S S%
69 6 12 18 36 73 8.20%

It was a solid offensive year for Braun with his 18 points being the fifth-highest season total of his career. His shooting percentage was a bit of an outlier this season, with it being the highest of his career by a wide margin. Additionally, while I know plus/minus is not the best stat out there, I feel that it should be said in a season where basically every Flyer was a minus, Braun was fourth on the team with a +3. Defensively, he did what was expected; he threw 87 hits and blocked 121 shots, both the sixth-highest season totals of his career.

5v5 On Ice Stats

5v5 On Ice Stats

Corsi For % Corsi For Relative GF% Expected Goals For % PDO
Corsi For % Corsi For Relative GF% Expected Goals For % PDO
42.30% -8.6 48.72% 35.66% 0.99

5V5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
0.08 0.05 3.2 0.11

Braun’s underlying numbers are par for the course with what he is as a player. They are middle of the pack, nothing flashy or exciting, just reliable and dependable for a stay at home defenseman.

Three Questions

Did they live up to expectations?

I would say we got what we expected out of Justin Braun this season. If you look at his advanced stats it was statistically one of his worst season of his career, but I chalk that up more to the disaster the Flyers were as a team this season. Additionally, any season that Braun contributes 18 points, Flyers fans should happily take.

Last season Braun had eight different defensive partners; it’s hard for players to get comfortable with one another when they never know who they will be playing with from one game to the next.

What can we expect from next season?

As for next season Braun is returning to the Flyers after signing a one-year deal worth up to $1.75 million. He should slot into the third pair role potentially with Cam York. The pair was decent enough in the 18 games they played together last season and will hope to build on that in the coming season.

Perhaps with York getting a full season under his belt and feeling more comfortable, they have the potential to become a very serviceable third paring. The expectation is for every player to improve defensively given John Tortorella coming in and implementing his defensive structure.

Obviously everyone would love to have six number-one defenseman, but you need players like Braun who don’t eat up to much cap room but are still reliable and stable in any situation. I like the pairing of Braun and York and I think their contrasting styles could help each other and allow each of them to excel in their roles.

How would you grade their 2021-22 season?

Overall I give Justin Braun a B- for his efforts last season. In a season where it seemed like every player was facing some scrutiny, it never seemed like Braun was facing a lot of it. Whether that’s due to his style of play or the fact that he’s not a big name player, whatever the reason, it’s no fluke a player like Braun has managed to play in the league for 13 seasons despite being a seventh round pick.

*All stats via Hockey Reference, Natural Stat Trick, and Money Puck

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