Rabid Habs

Jarred Tinordi: The Things I Think I Know

Jarred Tinordi

The recent promotion and subsequent reassignment of Jarred Tinordi has sparked conversation regarding the current and future status of the former first rounder. Opinions, among many a Habs fans, are staunchly divided. I hope, if possible, to offer insight and context for your further consideration.

Firstly, lots has changed since the spring of 2010. The Canadiens, led by Jaro Halak, backed their way into the conference finals following upsets of the higher seeded Capitals and Penguins. The team was led, offensively, by Mike Cammalleri. As the draft approached, there seemed to be no clear consensus on who the Canadiens might target with their first round selection. Meanwhile, my wife and I were admitted to hospital, in preparation for the delivery of our first child. The day following our son’s arrival, we watched as the Habs moved up to select Tinordi with their first pick. In the context of the style of play in 2010, the pick was universally heralded. A big man, with mobility, who could deliver thunderous checks and fight, if needed. A big man, in the style of a Hal Gill, with better skill and a meaner streak we were told. It was hard not to be excited. None of this is to say that my desire to see Tinordi succeed has lessened. In fact, if anything, it has only magnified my desire. However, there remains three significant barriers that Tinordi must clear to take the next step, two of which are outside his control.

What remains in Tinordi’s circle of control is his decisions both with and without the puck. Although I believe his positioning has improved, he is still susceptible to being turned around in his own end of the ice. When the opposition puts the puck behind Tinordi, he can have a difficult time adjusting laterally and gets beat on the boards more often than he should. Tinordi has a very active stick, which is an effective tool in the defensive zone and his ability to clear the crease is noteworthy, however he gets lost in coverage when the puck or puck handler moves quickly across the zone. With the puck, Tinordi still struggles with the short to intermediate pass, a critical component in relieving pressure in the defensive zone and a requirement in effectively starting the breakout. These key areas remain deficiencies, which could be exposed in the postseason. The good news however is that all issues noted above can be turned from weaknesses into strengths. Each are within Tinordi’s control and can be improved with further NHL game exposure, confidence, coaching and the steadying impact of a solid partner.

The greater concern are those obstacles which remain the issues outside of Tinordi’s control. Firstly, I look specifically to the depth chart which currently has Markov, Beaulieu and Emelin firmly entrenched on the left side of the top six. As it remains unlikely that any of the three are moved in the short term, then it becomes increasingly clearer that Tinordi’s time in Montreal can most appropriately be referred to in the future, not the present tense.

Development and depth notwithstanding, the biggest concern, IMO, to Tinordi becoming a fixture on the Canadiens blueline is the continued evolution of hockey, at the NHL level. Reflecting once more on the spring on 2010, the style of hockey being played is significantly different to that which is played today. Tinordi was an excellent draft choice in the context of this landscape. However, as the game continues to place a greater premium on skating, puck movement and transitional hockey, the personnel choices are also under review. In the new NHL, a prospect like Mac Bennett might become a more valuable commodity going forward. The game will continue to adjust, so it’s impossible to say, definitively, however the possibility exits that there are far fewer fights and open ice collisions, as the physical brand of hockey is replaced by precision. The key will be whether or not Tinordi can adjust to the new style. This challenge is not specific to Tinordi. Watching Gudbranson get beat to the net by both Thomas and Gallagher this past week tells me that other big men are struggling to adjust to their new roles. Cowen in Ottawa has yet to adjust and is now rumoured to be a possible trade piece. McIlrath in New York, despite being drafted just outside the top 10 in 2010 has been unable to land a consistent role on the Rangers blueline. These young players are all comparable in terms of size, skill and age to Tinordi. All this is to say that the game has changed and the players must adjust accordingly. By no means have I given up on Tinordi, however seeing him returned to Hamilton also does not spark rage. It remains a game of poise and patience.

I welcome your feedback and invite continued conversation on this topic and other hockey related issues @LWOScjcasselman.

One Comment

  1. Grumpy Old Man

    February 28, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I always believed that Tinordi would be just another Keith Aulie or Gilles Lupien. The kid just seems to lack that hockey IQ and quick thinking that must be there for an NHL defenseman. The Habs wasted a 1st round pick on him. Players like him are available in the later rounds. They panicked after getting pushed around by the Flyers and just went out and got the biggest body available and gave away a pick to draft higher than their slot to get him. Seems like a waste now. Ditto with McCarron. They have him in the system and then go out and get Devante Smith who is an NHL-ready version of Big Mac and they gave up a very skilled player in Sekac to get him.