Player Name/position: Bryan Allen, D
Overall Grade: D
Contract Status: Two more years at $3.5 million cap hit/salary per
2013 Stats: 41 GP, 0G 6A 6P, 34 PIM, plus-1, 18:44 TOI/G, 63 Hits, 66 Blocked Shots
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 0-1-1, 2 PIM, plus-1, 17:22 TOI/G, 14 Hits, 14 Blocked Shots
Offense: Not really a factor in anything he does. Frankly, any time he was in the offensive zone I just wanted him to start heading back, because the way he skates it takes a while to get back there.
Defense: I really wanted to like Bryan Allen, coming into the season. I knew that event though he was a big defenseman we weren't getting a poor man's Chris Pronger, I just wanted him to be some reasonable facsimile of Sean O'Donnell.
The early returns were not good. I'm not sure if it was the lockout time off or what, but even in the first game of the season I noticed strange decisions, as simple as the angles he took when defending a rush. Most of all, though it seemed he was just trying to do too much. The best example was in overtime of the Jan. 29 shootout loss to San Jose (at the 3:16 mark of the full highlights). The video cuts in just after Allen pinches down the left wing boards sending Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe in on a 2-on-1 rush against Cam, who did some great traffic directing and Hiller made a huge save. About four minutes later Allen sheepishly glides into frame.
Being paired with Cam helped him to an extent early on, in that Fowler could use his uncanny skating ability to cover up for Allen's missteps. Unfortunately it should have been the other way around, with Allen hanging back to help Cam when his offensive forays went awry. According to Cory S. from Canes' Country he did best while with a more defensively minded partner in Carolina, and he did seem to settle down somewhat when Cam got hurt and he was paired with Ben Lovejoy or Toni Lydman.
He played better in the second half of the season, but was still hindered by his .... how to put this nicely ... lack of foot speed. For example Damien Brunner's OT winner in Game 4. If Allen is even a mediocre skater he can stay with Gustav Nyqvist, doesn't have to dive after him and can clear the rebound before Brunner gets there, or at the very least not crash into Hiller so he can try to recover.
Speaking of the playoffs, one of the top complaints I have is that Detroit was allowed to set up so easily in front of Hiller. One of the main reasons Allen was brought in was to make the Ducks harder to play against in front of the net, and he completely failed to live up to expectations there. Although, to be fair, the most egregious example of the Ducks failing to clear the crease (Game 6) was not on him, since he wasn't on the ice for any of the goals against.
Highlight of the Season: This is a tough one. Even at his best Allen's game doesn't lend itself to highlights, and he got handled in both of his fights this year by Jordan Nolan and Ryane Clowe, the former coming as Fowler was being concussed by Jarret Stoll. There isn't any video, but I do remember him making a really great stick check on Patrick Kane on the Penalty Kill in overtime on Feb. 12.
Expectations for Next Year: Much like what Daniel said about Sheldon Souray, a buyout is an option because $3.5 million is a lot to be paying a guy with known limitations that significantly hinder his ability to contribute to the team. However I don't really expect it. I keep coming back to Bob Murray's cryptic comment on exit interview day that the team will not come back as is, and he wants to see more team toughness. Allen is one of the guys who contributes - or is supposed to - to that team toughness, so I don't see Murray bailing on him after one year.