In the 2021-22 Player Review series, we will evaluate the 2021-22 performances of each key member of the Golden Knights. Players were evaluated based on overall performance in the regular season with regard to pre-season expectations and how that player performed in his particular role.
Brayden McNabb has been old reliable for the Vegas Golden Knights ever since he was nabbed (get it?) from the Los Angeles Kings in the expansion draft. One of the few members of that original Golden Knights squad still on the roster, McNabb continues to play tough minutes as the Knights’ defensive stalwart and one of the unquestioned leaders in the locker room.
Season in review
McNabb has never been known as much of an offensive dynamo. It’s just not his game. He’s made a living shutting down enemy scoring chances and making life easier for the Golden Knights’ goalies, and that continued in 2021-22.
But while his point totals have never jumped off the page, he actually managed to put together his best statistical campaign as a Golden Knight this season, logging three goals and 18 total points in 69 very nice games. Gasp!
As unspectacular as those raw scoring numbers are, he’s not supposed to be lighting up the stat sheet. McNabb is a solid, stay-at-home defender responsible for keeping pucks away from the net and punishing anyone even thinking of entering the Vegas zone — he led all Golden Knights defensemen by a country mile with 154 hits on the season despite missing 13 games. That’s what McNabb does best, and he’s done it consistently throughout his five years in the desert.
McNabb’s advanced metrics are far from eye-popping at first glance. At 5-on-5, the 31-year-old logged a 50.56 Corsi For percentage, a 51.04 Goals For percentage and a 51.90 Expected Goals For percentage. All good marks, but not “holy crap” good.
Take into consideration that McNabb started only 43.24 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, though, and the numbers become a bit more impressive.
McNabb isn’t flashy and his game isn’t sexy, but his 2021-22 campaign was very much on par with what we’ve come to expect from the grizzly veteran.
The Golden Knights signed McNabb to a three-year, $8.55 million contract extension in January. Clearly, the team still views him as a key cog on the back end, as they should. The Golden Knights may be in a cap crunch, but given the value McNabb provides in the defensive zone, along with the timing of his inexpensive deal, it’s hard to imagine him being moved this offseason.
Knights On Ice grade: B
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All statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Evolving-Hockey and NHL.com.