Who has been the top defensive defender?
Last March, I came up with a funky formula for finding the league's best defensive defenceman, a little post I called The Rod Langway Award.
It was controversial, and my methods are pretty goofy, but those both seem like good enough reasons to bring it back again, 20 games into this season.
Here's how I determined the list:
In order to come up with a manageable number of blueliners to look at, I came up with a few criterion:Come now, down off the edge of your seat. (If you're still reading, that is.)
Those two stipulations leave us with a workable number to use. With that group, I've chosen three metrics to look at (with another hat tip to Behind The Net):
- They'd have to play a lot, let's say be among the top 90 defencemen in even-strength ice time
- Playing shorthanded would also be a big part of being a shutdown blueliner, so we'll take the top 60 from that category
(a) rate of goals against at even strength,
(b) rate of goals against shorthanded and
(c) strength of opposition
So, 190 defenders have played 10 games or more so far this season, and only 60 are in the mix here. (I might have to try this again without eliminating so many players, as the high even-strength minutes cut out players like Kyle McLaren, Rusty Klesla, Aaron Ward, Philippe Boucher and Tomas Kaberle.
Here are this year's top 30 defensive defenders, as per the Wacky Mirtle Method™:
|NAME||TEAM||EVGA/60||EV/60 Rank||QUALCOMP||EV Comp Rank ||SHGA/60||PK/60 Rank |
|20||GREG DE VRIES||NSH||2.60||36||0.13||18||4.96||22|
Well, some interesting names there anyway.
Rafalski gets a huge boost by the fact he hasn't been on the ice for a shorthanded goal against, despite playing almost 60 minutes at 4-on-5 this season.
That's almost as impressive as Doug Weight's streak the other way.
And how about guys like Jan Hejda, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Hal Gill and Michal Rozsival, none of whom have gotten much pub this season outside of their home markets.
We heard a ton from the Bloilgosphere about Hejda last year, and new Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson obviously saw it as well. Vlasic and Rozsival continue to be two of the league's best-kept secrets, adn Gill's basically there on the strength of his PK numbers, which are miles better than his fellow Leafs defenders.
On the bottom end were Kevin Bieksa, Brad Stuart, Brian Campbell, Dick Tarnstrom and Jason Smith, but again, this is among guys playing the biggest minutes in the league.
Anyway, food for thought. I'd definitely be interested in seeing other bloggers put together their own, stats-based analysis for who the top defensive defenders are in the league.