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Rate your teams Defense: Player Strengths/Weaknesses


J0e Th0rnton
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Since the Sharks have finally got everyone signed, I figured it is as good a time as any to discuss our defensive corps. Feel free to depict who you think will be your top pair, second pair and bottom pairing. Who will be your 7th, and how you coach employs the units. PP, PK and 5 on 5. Who are in the system that may make the jump to the big leagues. Discuss their strengths and weaknesses, pricetag and term, etc

 

In my opinion, this is how I consider defensemen:

#1 Dman. Usually very good to elite offensively and defensively. Can play big minutes and is used in all situations.

#2 Dman. Usually elite offensively or defensively, but not at both. However, the elite offensive Dmen are usually a cut above the norm and can just be terrific paired with the right partner. Elite defensive defensmen usually also have to be very good at moving the puck in the right direction to rank into this category, although they lack the more offensive instincts and tend to make the safe play when in the offensive zone.

#3 Dman. Like the #1 Dman, usually good to very good offensively or defensively, but not elite at either.

#4 Dman.Usually lower tier offensive Dmen or mid tier defensive Dmen.

#5/6 Dman. These spots are often taken by prospects, or older vets, but certainly not by standouts, and on some teams will be highly sheltered, while others roll it out a bit more.

#7 Dman. Kind of like a spare tire. Not good in the long haul, but can get you to the shop as you wait for repairs.

 

Everyone has their own way of classifying these types. That is just mine for the record.

 

For the Sharks, we have:

 

Marc-Edouard Vlasic: Pickles was to many, a strange choice for team Canada. In fact, a lot of people did not know who he was. Babcock did though, and now everyone else does too. Arguably the best defensive defenseman in the league. Plays on the left side and plays an error free, perfect defensive game. Always makes the safe play, but is a terrific skater and can move the puck via great skating or with perfect outlet passes. His offensive game is very much behind is defense and his instincts always have him making the safe play and he does not have a great shot, but he came back from team Canada playing a bit more aggressively with the puck after being paired with and seeing some of the other elite Dmen do it. Amazing at possession and holding the zone, and always moving the puck in a positive direction. I rank him as a #2

Pricetag: 4.25 million a year till 2018. Worth it? GOD YES

 

Brent Burns: Its been a year and a half since Burns played defense. Hard to judge. However, his skating is top notch. He is big and physical and has a booming shot. However, on the PP he is definitely not a quarterback. A trigger man yes. Plays on the right side and is not good at switching sides. Average defensively, but better offensively. Enough to be a #2? Hard to say until I see him back in his natural position. For now, a 3.

Pricetag: 5.75 million a year till 2017. Worth it? Yes

 

Justin Braun: What did Larry Robinson do with his time with this kid? He went from being in my doghouse every time I saw him to second best defensive Dman on the team. He was able to keep a positive Corsi/Fenwick despite being paired with Stuart, who brought everyone down. The kid has wheels too and a good shot. Plays the right side, and struggles a bit if moved to the left side. He was tentative to make offensive moves when paired with Stuart(And Stuart was garbage in all areas but shot blocking this season), but showed flashes of brilliance when Paired with Vlasic(And nobody could score vs the Sharks when they were paired). Rank #4 with the potential to move to 3

Pricetag: 1.25 million for the rest of this year. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET HIM LOCKED UP WILSON. Use Vlasic's contract as a comparison.

 

Jason Demers: Le Sigh. Inconsistent and not great when not paired with Vlasic. However, behind Boyle this season, he was easily the best offensive Dman on the team and even had better PP numbers than Boyle when Boyle was injured). Right side Dman who plays like crap on the left side. Can make ridiculous stretch passes and move the puck well. Average to below average defensively unless with Vlasic. Drives me crazy on the Point because he fake winds/Passes so regularly, but is a good QB. He will have a shot to stay on the PP all season this year. Rank 4 with the potential to move to 3.

Pricetag: 3.4 million for 2 more years. Worth it? Yes

 

Matt Irwin: Well meh. He has a great shot from the point, but that is about all he has going for him. If he sticks around after this season, it will be to take Hannan's spot as 7th Dman. Rank 6th/7th

 

Scott Hannan: Always hate seeing age catch up to a guy. Thornton and Marleau still play like they are 28 years old, but Hannan might as well be 41. He still knows what to do to be a great defensive defenseman. He is just no longer capable of executing. 7th Dman

 

The Kids: Konrad Abeltshauser, Mirco Mueller, Matt Tennyson.

 

Konrad A stepped into the AHL as a 20 year old and immediately played very well. In fact, he matched Tennyson, who is 3 years his senior in points, and was +/- 0. Skates well for a big man, and moves the puck well. Future potential #3, but likely #4/#5

 

Mueller seems like he will be getting the Vlasic treatment next season. Thrust into the NHL right away. his projected ceiling is, well, Vlasic, but can he do it? Sharks fans are skeptical if he is ready given his small frame.

 

Tennyson was the poor guy overused on a horrible AHL team last season, and still did not do a whole lot. I have my doubts he will make the team, but i could be wrong and he could fit well in a reduced role.

 

Likely pairings?

Vlasic/Burns

?????Mueller/Braun

Irwin/Demers

Hannan

 

PP, Burns/Demers?

PK, Braun/Vlasic

 

Last season, the coach rolled all 3 defensive pairings fairly evenly. Boyle hogged PP time.

 

 

With all that out of the way, Hertl is lifting weights while standing on an exercise ball :blink[1]:

https://pbs.twimg.com/tweet_video/Bs1fVIyCcAELqym.mp4

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@J0e Th0rnton

 

Ok, I guessed I missed that. It's nice to have options with a guy like Burns - you could dress 7 D and move him up to forward if needed. I'm pretty much amazed that you can count the number of players who have/can play both D and forward over the years on one hand. Versatility like that is a marketable commodity, especially in today's game. 

 

I'm looking forward to following Goldobin's progress as a Shark (thrilled that he went to SJ), so be sure to keep me posted on anything new with him  :)

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@J0e Th0rnton

 

Ok, I guessed I missed that. It's nice to have options with a guy like Burns - you could dress 7 D and move him up to forward if needed. I'm pretty much amazed that you can count the number of players who have/can play both D and forward over the years on one hand. Versatility like that is a marketable commodity, especially in today's game. 

 

I'm looking forward to following Goldobin's progress as a Shark (thrilled that he went to SJ), so be sure to keep me posted on anything new with him  :)

Will do.

 

@JR Ewing@flyercanuck@Commander Clueless@TropicalFruitGirl26

 

Come on folks! Grade your defensemen and pairings! I want to hear some insight!

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@J0e Th0rnton

 

 As a long time hockey fan I feel I have a pretty good grasp of the game. You want me to grade the Flyers defencemen and pairings?

 

 M as in meh. Each pairing and as a whole.Yet somehow they are the highest paid in the league. 

 

 I have far more confidence in Morin, Sanheim, Gostisbehere and Hagg bringing Philly into contention than the likes of what Philly has presently patrolling the blueline. And none of them have even made the NHL yet.

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@flyercanuck@sarsippius

 

How would you grade each individually though?

 

For instance, how far has Streit fallen from his team leading offense days? Is he still useful on the PP?

Is Coburn still the most mobile? I hear guys complain about him relentlessly in chat during games, but when talking about trading him, people act like he is the only one who can skate.

 

Timmo definitely fell off, but is he worth keeping at 2 million?

Is MacDonald worth his contract? Seems incredibly pricey for a guy who has never hit 30 points.

Luke Schenn was supposed to be a sure thing top shutdown defenseman. Is he still expected to eventually fill those shoes?

Grossman is the guy people are begging to trade, so I assume he sucks lol.

 

Is it that bad that you want the kids promoted ASAP? Who comes up first? Until we see these guys in the AHL, I have no way to see how they are really progressing due to the differences between Junior and against grown men. Some guys play better than ever when they reach the NHL because the simple things they do just convert better with better players to move the puck to. Some just cannot adapt to the bigger stronger adults quickly as they did against kids way smaller than them and have less time and space, forcing them to rush decision with the puck, etc

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The only kids with even a remote chance of seeing time with the big club are Gostisbehere (3 years of college pucks) or to a much lesser extent Haag (younger but been playing in Sweden against men), but i'd put that chance at about a half a percent. I've not actually seen either of them play, but I just can't imagine Hexy would bring either of them up without a solid season in the A.

As far as what we're apparently going to battle with, there's not a first pairing caliber player in the bunch. I mean Kimmo is almost as old as me, I was actually glad he decided to come back for one more year, but he was just worn down by March this year. Still makes good decisions won't generally hurt you and good puck mover, but he's lost more than a stride. Coburn.....how can a guy that big who plays defense NOT take the body more??? That's the top D pairing, clearly a 3/4. Streit was brought in to qb the pp last year, and I suppose he was slightly better than adequate.

The rest of it is just a train wreck. Schenn, just awful, nothing even remotely positive comes to mind, if someone can tell me what his redeeming qualities are I'd love to hear it. If someone is expecting him to be a shutdown guy it sure as hell isn't me. Worst defensive performer last year by a mile, playing on the third D pair to boot so he's not seeing seeing the opponents top line for the most part.

Grossman? Pylon. MacDonald, blocks a lot of shots and that's great, but he's not a strong skater either and Homer gave him 30 mil for 6 YEARS after what, a 15 game audition!!! I mean seriously if you wanted to sign him up I could have stomached a 3 year deal between 2.5-2.75 per, but that deal defies logic.

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Greene - Solid all-around defenseman who can log a lot of minutes. Not overly physical, but his positioning is excellent. One of the most underrated D-men in the league IMO. The fact that he didn't even get a call for the Olympic team was surprising, especially considering they took that pylon Orpik. His contract is up at the end of 2014-15, so getting him locked up is definitely a priority for the Devils. Losing him would be a huge blow to the blueline.

 

Zidlicky - Pretty much the definition of a high risk/high reward offensive defenseman. He's the best on the team at skating the puck up the ice. He's basically an extra forward at times. Takes some boneheaded penalties about once every 2-3 games (usually a hooking penalty after he gets caught pinching). He's getting up there in age, so I'm not sure how much he's got left in the tank. He's basically there until Gelinas takes over in the same role.

 

Salvador - Pylon. Dude is a warrior, but he's just old, slow, and basically useless out there now. He's a defensive defenseman who isn't even good at defending anymore. He's still living off a career playoff run in 2012 when he was somehow putting up points.

 

Merrill - He's basically a bigger, younger, and possibly better version of Greene, or at least he will be someday. He's not there yet. Definitely had some growing pains this last season (including getting his face destroyed going into the boards his first game in the NHL), but seems to learn from his mistakes pretty quickly. I really, really like this kid.

 

Larsson - To be honest, I have no idea what to expect from him. He looked great the first half of his rookie year, then got destroyed by Subban and wasn't the same for a long time. He started to show some signs last year when paired with Gelinas, but then got injured and sent back to the AHL. The logjam of NHL defensemen basically kept him down there the rest of the year. His skating is still kind of questionable. He's a good straight line skater, but struggles at pivoting and lateral movement at times, and still gets caught flatfooted. He's a good passer and has a pretty good shot, but rarely uses it. He basically spent most of 2012-13 focusing on his defensive play, so his offensive game has suffered a bit. It's going to be a big season for him, especially with the departures of Fayne and Volchenkov.

 

Gelinas - Much like Zidlicky he's a high risk/high reward offensive defenseman. The combination of size, mobility, and the absolute cannon he has from the point is very intriquing. He started off looking pretty good, but his defensive play got worse over the course of the season. In fact down the stretch he was playing limited minutes (actually playing forward for a handful of games). If he can clean up his game and become even average defensively he'll be a guy to keep an eye on.

 

Harrold - Pretty much the definition of a depth defenseman. Decent skater, can move the puck reasonably well, and isn't a complete disaster in his own end. But he's a smaller guy and tends to get pushed around pretty easily. Has at times been overused the last couple seasons because he's earned the trust of the coaching staff (he has the nickname Pete Jr. for a reason).

 

 

This season is definitely going to be an interesting one for the Devils defense. The loss of Fayne will definitely be felt. He was one of those guys that did a lot of little things well, and logged a lot of key minutes. He and Volchenkov, along with Greene and Salvador, logged most of the PK time. So a couple of guys are going to have to step up into those roles. Zidlicky and Gelinas aren't exactly the most reliable in their own end, which basically leaves Merrill and Larsson. If Merrill continues his development and Larsson takes a step forward, they'll probably be okay there. But I fully expect there to be some growing pains with three young defensemen in the lineup. It's actually kind of funny. Devils fans have been complaining for two years about the logjam on defense, and now that it's been cleared we're worried about what happens if the kids falter. I like Harrold as an extra defenseman, but he's not really much of a safety blanket.

Edited by MadDevil
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The only kids with even a remote chance of seeing time with the big club are Gostisbehere (3 years of college pucks) or to a much lesser extent Haag (younger but been playing in Sweden against men), but i'd put that chance at about a half a percent. I've not actually seen either of them play, but I just can't imagine Hexy would bring either of them up without a solid season in the A.

As far as what we're apparently going to battle with, there's not a first pairing caliber player in the bunch. I mean Kimmo is almost as old as me, I was actually glad he decided to come back for one more year, but he was just worn down by March this year. Still makes good decisions won't generally hurt you and good puck mover, but he's lost more than a stride. Coburn.....how can a guy that big who plays defense NOT take the body more??? That's the top D pairing, clearly a 3/4. Streit was brought in to qb the pp last year, and I suppose he was slightly better than adequate.

The rest of it is just a train wreck. Schenn, just awful, nothing even remotely positive comes to mind, if someone can tell me what his redeeming qualities are I'd love to hear it. If someone is expecting him to be a shutdown guy it sure as hell isn't me. Worst defensive performer last year by a mile, playing on the third D pair to boot so he's not seeing seeing the opponents top line for the most part.

Grossman? Pylon. MacDonald, blocks a lot of shots and that's great, but he's not a strong skater either and Homer gave him 30 mil for 6 YEARS after what, a 15 game audition!!! I mean seriously if you wanted to sign him up I could have stomached a 3 year deal between 2.5-2.75 per, but that deal defies logic.

 

 

Greene - Solid all-around defenseman who can log a lot of minutes. Not overly physical, but his positioning is excellent. One of the most underrated D-men in the league IMO. The fact that he didn't even get a call for the Olympic team was surprising, especially considering they took that pylon Orpik. His contract is up at the end of 2014-15, so getting him locked up is definitely a priority for the Devils. Losing him would be a huge blow to the blueline.

 

Zidlicky - Pretty much the definition of a high risk/high reward offensive defenseman. He's the best on the team at skating the puck up the ice. He's basically an extra forward at times. Takes some boneheaded penalties about once every 2-3 games (usually a hooking penalty after he gets caught pinching). He's getting up there in age, so I'm not sure how much he's got left in the tank. He's basically there until Gelinas takes over in the same role.

 

Salvador - Pylon. Dude is a warrior, but he's just old, slow, and basically useless out there now. He's a defensive defenseman who isn't even good at defending anymore. He's still living off a career playoff run in 2012 when he was somehow putting up points.

 

Merrill - He's basically a bigger, younger, and possibly better version of Greene, or at least he will be someday. He's not there yet. Definitely had some growing pains this last season (including getting his face destroyed going into the boards his first game in the NHL), but seems to learn from his mistakes pretty quickly. I really, really like this kid.

 

Larsson - To be honest, I have no idea what to expect from him. He looked great the first half of his rookie year, then got destroyed by Subban and wasn't the same for a long time. He started to show some signs last year when paired with Gelinas, but then got injured and sent back to the AHL. The logjam of NHL defensemen basically kept him down there the rest of the year. His skating is still kind of questionable. He's a good straight line skater, but struggles at pivoting and lateral movement at times, and still gets caught flatfooted. He's a good passer and has a pretty good shot, but rarely uses it. He basically spent most of 2012-13 focusing on his defensive play, so his offensive game has suffered a bit. It's going to be a big season for him, especially with the departures of Fayne and Volchenkov.

 

Gelinas - Much like Zidlicky he's a high risk/high reward offensive defenseman. The combination of size, mobility, and the absolute cannon he has from the point is very intriquing. He started off looking pretty good, but his defensive play got worse over the course of the season. In fact down the stretch he was playing limited minutes (actually playing forward for a handful of games). If he can clean up his game and become even average defensively he'll be a guy to keep an eye on.

 

Harrold - Pretty much the definition of a depth defenseman. Decent skater, can move the puck reasonably well, and isn't a complete disaster in his own end. But he's a smaller guy and tends to get pushed around pretty easily. Has at times been overused the last couple seasons because he's earned the trust of the coaching staff (he has the nickname Pete Jr. for a reason).

 

 

This season is definitely going to be an interesting one for the Devils defense. The loss of Fayne will definitely be felt. He was one of those guys that did a lot of little things well, and logged a lot of key minutes. He and Volchenkov, along with Greene and Salvador, logged most of the PK time. So a couple of guys are going to have to step up into those roles. Zidlicky and Gelinas aren't exactly the most reliable in their own end, which basically leaves Merrill and Larsson. If Merrill continues his development and Larsson takes a step forward, they'll probably be okay there. But I fully expect there to be some growing pains with three young defensemen in the lineup. It's actually kind of funny. Devils fans have been complaining for two years about the logjam on defense, and now that it's been cleared we're worried about what happens if the kids falter. I like Harrold as an extra defenseman, but he's not really much of a safety blanket.

Thank you for the insight fellas :)

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MacDonald, blocks a lot of shots and that's great, but he's not a strong skater either

 

Have to disagree on that point. MacDonald is a very good skater. I would say that his skating and his decision making with the puck are his two strongest assets.

 

Timonen: Can still do everything, just not quite as well or as often. Might still be the team's best all-around defenseman but can't play #1 minutes anymore

Coburn: Big, excellent skater, solid positionally. Team's best shut-down defenseman

Streit: Was the team's best offensive defenseman last season. Played pretty well in his own end too. Would like to see him replace Kimmo on the top PP this season.

MacDonald: Solid two way defenseman. Makes a good first pass out of the zone which noticeably helped the Flyers transition game.

Schenn: Physical defensive defenseman. Plays better when paired with a more mobile partner (like MacDonald). Not completely useless offensively.

Grossman: Same as Schenn only even less mobile. Puck skills close to non-existent.

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Since the Sharks have finally got everyone signed, I figured it is as good a time as any to discuss our defensive corps. Feel free to depict who you think will be your top pair, second pair and bottom pairing. Who will be your 7th, and how you coach employs the units. PP, PK and 5 on 5. Who are in the system that may make the jump to the big leagues. Discuss their strengths and weaknesses, pricetag and term, etc

 

With all the turnover in Pittsburgh and the injuries to Maatta and Pouliot that may cost both of them a few weeks of the season this is going to be hard - but here goes....

 

(Caveat: This is once everyone is healthy.)

 

1/2 - Paul Martin & Kris Letang.  Letang is as offensively gifted as they come.  He can make the big play defensively but that's usually evened out by the big gaffe. Martin is a perfect complement. Strong in his own end, smart with the puck and is your textbook "puck moving defenceman. Both are capable of quarterbacking the PP.

 

3/4 - Olli Maatta & Christian Erhoff.  Martin/Letang "lite". Erhoff not quite as gifted offensively as Letang but not nearly as "bad" defensively. Maatta I think ends up a better offensive player than Martin but not quote as good (bit still not bad) defensively.

 

5/6 - Rob Scuderi and either Robert Bortuzzo or Simon Depres. In an ideal world, this is Bortuzzo/Depres.  But Scuderi was signed to be the shut-down guy...so short of him rapidly losing another step I think you see a lot of mixing and matching depending on the opponent.

 

The Kids. Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin, Derrek Pouliot, Phillip Samuelsson.  By all accounts, Harrington is ready to step in and fill the "Brooks Orpik" role. Pouliot's injury will slow down his development a bit but - as @flyercanuck told me - he could use some seasoning in the A. As for Dumoulin and Samuelsson - simply a numbers game but I have no worries of they were called into service due to injuries to the guys above them. Not spectacular but solid.

 

I was lukewarm to the Scuderi signing because of the lenght of the deal (cap hit was OK) and the log jam he now creates.

 

However, the Erhoff signing gives the Pens flexibility. It allows a Pouliot or a Dumoulin to get more experience. If it's clear they are capable - it's only a 1 year deal for Erhoff.  If they become a trade chip the Pens can always try and extend Erhoff.  Worst case - neither are ready and Erhoff walks as a F/A after the season.

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However, the Erhoff signing gives the Pens flexibility. It allows a Pouliot or a Dumoulin to get more experience. If it's clear they are capable - it's only a 1 year deal for Erhoff.  If they become a trade chip the Pens can always try and extend Erhoff.  Worst case - neither are ready and Erhoff walks as a F/A after the season.

 

this is what having some prospects in the system does for you..,gives you depth and flexibility to solve a short term problem with a short term solution.

 

I think Depres has a nice upside, and is the Pen's prospect I most covet. It will be interesting to see what he does now that he's not perpetually in the coach's dog house.  He'll at least get to start with a fresh sheet.

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Great post...

Here's my idea for the Habs, pending a PK Subban contract

 

1. PK Subban: There's no one quite like him on the team or in the league for that matter. Fast, physical and great on the powerplay. His defensive game has been growing over the past season. No question, hes the Habs' number one guy.

 

2. Andrei Markov: Grizzled vet just signed on for three years with the only NHL team he's ever known. Will help grow the little guys on the team and keep PK in line. Can play the powerplay and crucial minutes late in games. Atleast for the time being, he's our second in command.

 

3. Alexei Emelin: I'm not going to sugar coat it; Emelin had a terrible season on the rebound from a reconstructive knee surgery. However, I feel this season will be different. With an overabundance of left handed shots on last year's squad, Emelin was forced to play the right side which is unnatural for a left handed shot. Now with Weaver and Gilbert on the team, Emelin can be moved back to the left side. Very physical and growing defensively.

 

4. Jarred Tinordi: While he often gets the short end of the stick in TOI, Tinordi is the best defensive prospect on the team. Big defensive player who's not afraid to jump up physically.

 

5. Tom Gilbert: I'm going to be honest here... I don't know much about this guy. Recent signing and he wasn't too expensive. I think they're hoping Gilbert will fill up some of Gorges' big minutes. Tough shoes to fill.

 

6. Mike Weaver: Last year, Weaver became a fan favorite. He blocks everything he can get in front of. If Tokarski had gone down, I would have put Weaver in net. Another Grizzled vet, Weaver will also be put into Gorges' spot.

 

7. Nathan Beaulieu: Another youngster that is going to end up the odd man out more often than not. It's too bad because he's fast and smart with the puck. It's his mistakes without the puck that keep him on the sidelines. However, the fact that he's a rare powerplay specialist on this team puts him back into the lineup.

 

Potential Pairings

             1

Markov -   Subban

 

             2

Emelin   -     Gilbert

 

             3

Tinordi/Beaulieu  - Weaver

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@ihabs1993

Great write up. My only comment is re Gilbert.

Tough shoes to fill indeed. I don't see it. I've watched him since he was in EDM and he just doesn't get the defensive part of the game.

And all the little (read: big) stuff that Gorges does, like block shots, he won't do for you.

He came cheap for a reason.

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Great post...

Here's my idea for the Habs, pending a PK Subban contract

 

1. PK Subban: There's no one quite like him on the team or in the league for that matter. Fast, physical and great on the powerplay. His defensive game has been growing over the past season. No question, hes the Habs' number one guy.

 

2. Andrei Markov: Grizzled vet just signed on for three years with the only NHL team he's ever known. Will help grow the little guys on the team and keep PK in line. Can play the powerplay and crucial minutes late in games. Atleast for the time being, he's our second in command.

 

3. Alexei Emelin: I'm not going to sugar coat it; Emelin had a terrible season on the rebound from a reconstructive knee surgery. However, I feel this season will be different. With an overabundance of left handed shots on last year's squad, Emelin was forced to play the right side which is unnatural for a left handed shot. Now with Weaver and Gilbert on the team, Emelin can be moved back to the left side. Very physical and growing defensively.

 

4. Jarred Tinordi: While he often gets the short end of the stick in TOI, Tinordi is the best defensive prospect on the team. Big defensive player who's not afraid to jump up physically.

 

5. Tom Gilbert: I'm going to be honest here... I don't know much about this guy. Recent signing and he wasn't too expensive. I think they're hoping Gilbert will fill up some of Gorges' big minutes. Tough shoes to fill.

 

6. Mike Weaver: Last year, Weaver became a fan favorite. He blocks everything he can get in front of. If Tokarski had gone down, I would have put Weaver in net. Another Grizzled vet, Weaver will also be put into Gorges' spot.

 

7. Nathan Beaulieu: Another youngster that is going to end up the odd man out more often than not. It's too bad because he's fast and smart with the puck. It's his mistakes without the puck that keep him on the sidelines. However, the fact that he's a rare powerplay specialist on this team puts him back into the lineup.

 

Potential Pairings

             1

Markov -   Subban

 

             2

Emelin   -     Gilbert

 

             3

Tinordi/Beaulieu  - Weaver

I HATED that they gave up Gorges for basically nothing. Heart and Soul kid. I was very critical of him when he played for the Sharks, but he was still a kid. Then he became a very good player and on ice leader with the Habs. Would have taken him back on the Sharks in a heartbeat. Plays the left side, which we need and would have been a huge upgrade over Stuart, Hannan or Irwin. Vlasic is really all we have on the left side unless one of the kids really steps up quick.

 

Markov's foot speed has really gone downhill, but he can still QB a PP very well.

 

As far as prospects go, I heard better things about Beaulieu than Tinordi. But they are very different types of players.

 

I definitely think the habs need to stop lowballing Subban. They should be trying to lock him up long term and giving him what he wants. If they lowball him again, he might bolt when he becomes UFA. Because someone will pay him a max contract. In fact, the habs are lucky he filed for arbitration because now he cannot get an offer sheet. But if it makes it to arbitration, then you have to sit there telling him why he is not worth X amount of dollars, insulting him right to his face.

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Okay here goes with the Detroit Redwings Defense

 

NIKLAS KRONWALL

Back when the Wings were winning cups and relevant he was a number 3, behind the top pair of Lidstrom and Rafalski. With them now gone, he has been forced into the number one slot, and although his offensive numbers are fine (he led the Wings in scoring with 49 points last year) he has quit hitting. Since Lidstrom retired, he has turned into a finess player getting by on reputation among the fans but the truth is he gets pushed around too much. He is smart and knows how to pick his spots but he would be much better suited to play a second pair role.

 

JONATHAN ERICSSON

Big guy plays a finess game. Teams with Kronwall, hangs back and lets Kronwall carry the puck with confidence knowing Ericsson is capable of guarding the back end capably. A very solid defensive player, structurally sound. Perfectly suited for the defensive partner of a top pairing on defense.

 

BRENDAN SMITH

Showed flashes last year of finally getting it together. The Wings left him in Grand Rapids for three years as his learning curve was a bit slow, and he has made every mistake in the game half a dozen times. Last year he showed signs of getting it together. Rugged, he is not afraid to hit. Must work on his first pass, too many intercepted in his own zone. His shot is really coming along though.

 

KYLE QUINCEY

He actually was defensively responsible last year, has lost every bit of his offensive ability somewhere along the way. Teamed with Smith, realy not that bad as a third pair d-man just woefully overpaid. Does nothing particularly wrong, just does nothing right enough to justify 4.25 million a year.

 

BRIAN LASHOFF

Throws his body around, takes dumb penalties, no offensive ability, painfully slow. Number seven d-man who should be a number eight.

 

JAKUB KINDL

Showed flashes two years ago, took a giant step back last year. Hesitant with the puck, his shot missed the net by five feet consistently. Sound defensively, the Wings were wanting offensive output from him but he has stalled.

 

DANNY DEKEYSER

Plays like a ten year veteran. Solid defensively, sneaky quick coming across the red line, has wonderful vision. He has top pair offensive d-man written all over him. Gets turned around easily one on one, really his only weakness as far as I have seen.

 

So the Wings defense is in essence a number 3 (Kronwall) playing as the number one, two kids (Smith and Dekeyser) with serious upside, a solid shut down defenseman (Ericsson)  a sloth who belongs in the AHL (Lashoff) and a couple of guys (Kindl and Quincey) who are just that, just a couple of guys. This defensive unit has been together  intact since Lidstrom retired, in spite of fans screaming for reinforcements. Several kids led by Sproul are on their way but a veteran puck mover would be a huge addition.

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Well, it took me a while Joe, but I am here as summoned. Time for some Maple Leafs action:

 

 

1. Dion Phaneuf

- Yes, Dion Phaneuf. The big goof is staying with the big blue. Easily the best defenseman with the Maple Leaf crest on his chest this side of anything to do with Team Canada, he's a two-way guy. Eats minutes like he should eat mammoth meat and skates like a rhino - fast in a straight line, not so great side to side. At times he looks like legit #1 calibre, and others he looks like a neanderthal with the mentality of a six year old girl throwing a temper tantrum. Leafs fans will tell you he's great, other fans will tell you he's hot garbage, and, as usual, the actual truth will tell you it's somewhere in the middle.

 

Price Tag: $7 mil

Worth It? I would have said no, but after this year's free agent signings, I'm actually starting to wonder if Nonis isn't quite as crazy as I thought. I'll go with a solid "not great".

 

2. Stephane Robidas

- The new old man on the block. Guy can still play, if healthy. Likely not an ideal #2 guy, but a guy who should be able to eat minutes and give the Leafs some much needed experience on the back end. My overall knowledge of him is limited since I don't get to see all that many West games, but I'm happy to have him around.

 

Price Tag: $3 mil

Worth It? Yep, except for the whole "signed until 40" thing.

 

3. Jake Gardiner

- The kid is back with a shiny new contract. Consistency is the name of the game for young Jake, who plays like a premier puck mover for about a quarter of the season, and a struggling sophomore for the other 3/4ths. If he

can find his groove, the Leafs may have a gem here - at least on the offensive side of the game. Defensively his impressive speed gets him out of some sticky situations, but he has his work cut out for him.

 

Price Tag: $4 mil

Worth It? Really tough to say. He was signed long term, and partially for potential.

 

4. Morgan Rielly

- No longer the newest, shiniest toy in the Leafs' toybox, Morgan is running out of free pass time with Leafs Nation. This next season is up in the air. I rated him here because during his flashes of brilliance, the kid looked every bit the part of the potential #1 guy the Leafs so desperately need. However, like Gardiner, he's got no shortage of work to do on his game. His speed also makes up for a lot of his mistakes. Probable sophomore slump and inevitable fan disgruntling in 3...2...

 

Price Tag: $1.5ish...I think?

Worth It? Most definitely.

 

5. Roman Polak

- The scary newcomer with the Shanahype. This recently traded for backend patroller is just what King Brendan ordered, regardless of the slightly questionable cost of acquiring him. Like Robidas, I don't have a terribly vast amount of first hand witness to this guy's playing ability, but he sounds like he will be relied on to shut down other teams' best guys and clear the crease.

 

Price Tag: $3 mil, once you consider the retained salary.

Worth It? Not sure yet. Sure hope so.

 

6. Cody Franson

-Ah, Cody. Yes, Cody. Our favourite whipping boy, back again for another lashing. The guy went from looking like a Top 4 defenseman in a shortened season, to a guy who couldn't spell deefnse. Puts up points, but hopefully will remain on the bottom pairing where he is best suited. Skates like molasses, but is big and physical. Also very good at holding the point on the powerplay.

 

Price Tag: $2.3 mil

Worth It? Ehhhh...I guess. I'd prefer that money was spent on a guy to help the Leafs' defensive woes.

 

7. Stetter Perberg (Stuart Percy/Petter Granberg)

- The rookies. Percy, the left handed two-way guy, and Granberg, the right handed defensive guy. Either or both could see time on the Leafs this season, but any projections on these guys would be pure hopeful speculation. Both looked pretty darn good with the Marlies.

 

Price Tag: Nothing, unless they come up.

Worth It? Prospects be great.

 

 

My stab at pairings:

 

Phaneuf-Robidas

Rielly-Polak

Gardiner-Franson

Grancy

Edited by Commander Clueless
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