Last time we looked at some remedial options, this post is on bigger moves or radical ideas that might fix it.

Brooks Orpik

The Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman was at the center of one of the years early controversies, concussing Loui Eriksson, and getting mauled by a Bruin after he repeatedly refused to drop the gloves. With 2:48 a night of shorthanded time on the NHL’s top penalty kill, he fits the mold as an able defender. He’s a left handed shot as is Seidenberg, and height and weight are officially very close, as is age. He is in the last year of a contract, but its hard to imagine the Penguins jettisoning him where their current roster should win their division and make it at least two rounds into the playoffs as long as the revival of Fleury continues.

Luke Schenn

The Philadelphia Flyers are in an interesting position, they are getting a much better season than anyone expected two or three weeks into the season. Currently they sit in the middle of the pack both in goals for and against, not surprisingly hey are just slightly above dead center in the eastern conference standings and sit dead center for the entire NHL. Next season the team will have to resign or replace several key players. It is unlikely the team has a serious shot at the Stanley Cup this year, and while Schenn may never be an elite #1 defensemen who garners multiple Norris nominations, he’s got grit, defensive savvy, and a sensible about of snarl.

Kris Russell

This 26 year old Calgary Flames defenseman has a better 4 on 5 sv% than any of the guys who play more time than him, and significantly better than any of the Flames goalies total sv%. He’s also spending a lot of time on the powerplay. He’s on pace for 69 games and 205 blocked shots. While a little undersized, he’s clearly versatile and hard working. With an expiring contract, the pending UFA could bring the Flames an additional draft selection or two if flipped right.

Marc Staal

There are several reasons this trade is not as far fetched as it might once have been. Starting with next years cap being $71million, and over $39 of it being tied up in just 9 players. Next up is the string of atrocious injury woes for the only one of the four Staal brothers not playing for the Hurricanes organization. And he’s likely been passed in eyes of management by Ryan McDonaugh, while the Rangers would undoubtedly like to keep him, the odds of their being able to shoehorn him and all their other components into the cap are pretty low.  With a year left on his contract, and his undeniable talent the return on him could be high enough to transform the franchise.

Matt Greene

Some injuries, and the maturation of players like Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov have helped make the 30 year old blueliner a tradeable asset. After a year of honeymoon flying, the Kings are back to their low scoring ways and sit 23rd in the NHL in goals for. Not having reached a deal to extend the stay at home defenseman might indicate he is not a priority for the team. Even with the Kings owning the fifth best penalty kill in the league, and Greene averaging the most TOI for that unit, he’s is still moveable given how many games over the last two years he missed or been displaced in an otherwise healthy career. Flipping Greene for an offensively able forward would fill a need, and allow a clean parting of the ways with a player who has been a good soldier.

Andy Greene

Like the LA Kings the New Jersey Devils lack scoring and have a great penalty kill. Andy Greene has one more year left on his contract with the Devils meaning they can hold out for a more substantial return. The undrafted Michigan native is a career Devil, who is third in SHTOI. As the team languishes outside a playoff spot, adding pieces either for this season, or the future would be good for the Devils while Greene is landing in Boston would put him together with Julien who he played under in the 2006-07 season.

Strictly speaking this is a look at players who could fill the defensive void, with an emphasis on the penalty kill first. Some of them are capable of playing well in 20+ minutes a night as part of a first or second pairing, others could be employed in almost a specialty capacity.

Gary Lawless and other have decided that the Winnipeg Jets most recognizable defenseman, an All Star, Stanley Cup champion, and Olympian is just not good enough.

When you compare him to some of the defenseman who make a similar amount of money, you can see where some complaints about his defensive struggles can creep in.

  • Brent Seabrook is a consummate defensive defenseman often overlooked because he plays in Duncan Keith’s shadow.
  • Ryan McDonagh is quickly becoming one of the best known defensemen in the entire NHL. Part of that is playing for the New York Rangers, part of it is that he’s just that good.
  • Kevin Bieksa has some deficiencies, but has never been the focus of his team, he’s above average but not elite.

And then there are the players who make about the same who are not notably better than Byfuglien, and likely worse, or at least with questionable consistency and or frequent health issues.

  • Dennis Wideman, known for bobbling pucks at the blueline, and that’s perhaps the most noticeable consistency in his game, it should also be noted that no team with Wideman on it has ever made it out of the second round of the NHL playoffs.
  • Keith Yandle, probably the most comparable in on ice production. The biggest difference between the two is Yandle plays in a highly defensive system where there are several high end defensive forwards and good goaltending.
  • Paul Martin of the Pittsburgh Penguins would be lucky to named in the first ten by anyone not reading off the teams roster, and despite playing in front of a goalie with better stats than Big Buff, he’s got an on ice SV% that’s actually further below the #1 goalies Sv%.
  • Nicklas Kronwall is a bit better defensively, and again playing in front of better goaltending, but offensively? He’s played about 60 more games than the Jets blueliner, but has about half the goals.

No one burdened with glorious clue has ever called Dustin Byfuglien the best defenseman in the NHL. He is however one of he most recognizable due to his size, melanin level, skating ability and offensive prowess. He’s also hands down the most recognizable player on Winnipeg Jets. The same way people you used to say Joe Thornton could or should do more during the Boston Bruins 2000-01 season, there are upper ceilings on everyone’s talent and more importantly the fact that good player, great player or elite player they can only be in one place on the ice.

In the entire history of the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise, the team has never had any real depth. Their top six forwards after one and two, or very occasionally three have been a toss up. The top four in defense has largely been a matter of who had the endurance to play 22 or 26 minutes minutes and who didn’t. While Byfuglien can undoubtedly play better (possibly moving to right wing) he’s not the worst defenseman in the league, or even the worst in his pay bracket.  Whatever is wrong with Byfuglien’s play, and it does certainly have issues, Byfuglien isn’t even in the top 5 problems for the Winnipeg Jets.

This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League.

 

Players:

  • Dion Phanuef at a staggering .956 would have the highest on ice sv% of any NHL defenseman with 30 or more games played.
  • that after leading the Ducks in scoring in the 2011-12 season, and finishing fifth in scoring last year, Teemu Selanne would be 12th in points this year.
  • of the top 10 players in PIMs one would be both a first round pick, and a teenager; Tom Wilson.
  • also among the top 10 players in PIMs Radko Gudas would be the only one playing more than 20 minutes per night.
  • US Olympian Cam Fowler would not only lead the Ducks in total ice time, but shorthanded TOI/G as well.
  • despite fewer games and trailing the overall points race Patrick Kane would lead the NHL in road points.
  • of the top to players in points at home, only two would appear in the top ten for road points: Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby.
  • Blake Wheeler would have the highest points total of any right wing against his division.

Teams:

  • the Phoenix Coyotes would be the only team without a shorthanded goal.
  • based on Capgeek.com rankings, the top 10 spending teams would all be in the playoffs, 2 of the bottom ten (Montreal, Colorado) would be in leaving just 4 playoff teams in the middle 10.
  • the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators would be the only teams without even one shootout win.
  • 40% of the Washington Capitals wins would come via the shootout, higher than any other team currently in a playoff spot.
  • the 26th place Florida Panthers would have as many wins in 41 games this season as in the 48 game lockout shortened season.
  • the Nashville Predators would be the only team to not allow a shorthanded goal.
  • the Calgary Flames would be the only NHL team to play three full games without a penalty, and all three would be in November: 3rd against the Blackhawks, 20th against the Blue Jackets, and 30th against the Ducks.
  • the Minnesota Wild would be the only team to make it to the new year without a bench penalty.
  • 4 of the 5 most teams with the most PIMS would be in a playoff position while only three of the five least penalized would be.