This may show my age here but I thought it might be interesting for everyone to see one of my first ventures into statistical analysis of hockey statistics.
Back in March of 1996, the Leafs traded Darby Hendrickson, Sean Haggerty, Kenny Jonsson and a first round pick (turned out to be Roberto Luongo) to the Islanders for Wendel Clark, Mathieu Schneider and D.J. Smith. Clearly the first round pick and the lost chance at Roberto Luongo made this a bad trade but at the time Toronto media and especially Maple Leafs fans were outraged at the Leafs trading of young defenseman Kenny Johnsson. Many fans thought he was an up and coming Borje Salming (mostly because both are Swedish and Salming also played for the Leafs) and a future Norris Trophy candidate. While Jonsson turned out to be a good defenseman (who had his career shortened due to concussions and I believe is now playing in Sweden) he was no Borje Salming.
My view back then was that Jonsson was unlikely to become the next Borje Salming and I took to statistics to try to make my point and posted my analysis on the USENET news groups. Google has had these groups archived and available to anyone who wants to read them. You can read my analysis and follow on discussion here and some more here. I have included my main posts here as well. I am not sure if I will be able to get any time to do it but it would be interesting to revisit some of the work I did here and update it with some of the defensemen who have played in the NHL since then.
If you are not interested in reading it all, the short and sweet conclusion was that the first couple years of a defenseman’s career pretty much define that player for his whole career. If a defenseman isn’t a top offensive defenseman in his first few years, he likely never will be.