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Kris Letang's Corsi is way up this season

Kris Letang is one of the most improved possession players in the NHL this season so far

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With all the bad news and mumps talk going around, something good for a change.

Per James Mirle ( @mirtle ) here are the most improved players in the league for Corsi For %. Obviously for a lot of those players, a change of scenery has helped the cause.

mirtlepens14

I wonder what the difference is?

Let's take a selected look at last year, were Letang played 641 5v5 minutes:

Partner Minutes Corsi For %
Olli Maatta 221 49.9%
Rob Scuderi 198 43.5%
Matt Niskanen 116 53.6%
Deryk Engelland 56 43.5%
Brooks Orpik 36 46.7%
Paul Martin 25 62.8%

Spending almost 2/3 of his time with Maatta (as a rookie) or the injured and less than confident Scuderi torpedoed Letang's corsi numbers last year and caused him to spend too much time in his defensive end, despite high zone starts (that are basically consistent each year, per War on Ice).

We selected Martin's minutes since they were pretty good, to go along with Niskanen's to illustrate that Letang benefits great from a partner who can move the puck well, compared to struggling more with players like Engelland and Orpik who weren't the best puck-movers.

Here's this year's chart, out of 456 Letang 5v5 minutes

Partner Minutes Corsi For %
Paul Martin 239 54.1%
Olli Maatta 130 56.6%
Christian Ehrhoff 43 52.3%

Those are the only 3 worth looking out from a sample size perspective from right now. Letang's gotten to play 90% of his minutes with Martin, Maatta and Ehrhoff, and unsurprisingly the results have been much better with Letang pretty much playing all of his time with good players.

There were certainly injury considerations last season, but less Scuderi, more Martin has put Kris Letang back on a Norris nomination caliber season. Hopefully that trend will continue throughout the season.