Question on Defense in the Eastern Conference

I don’t think anyone can deny that many of the top defensemen are in the western conference (Lidstrom, Pronger, Niedermayer, Phaneuf, etc). This off season Brian Campbell and Dan Boyle found new permanent homes in the western conference. Some of the better young defensemen/prospects are in the western conference as well (Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson, Drew Doughty, etc.). With that, I post the following question to you all:

1. Who are the top 5 defensemen in the eastern conference.

2. Taking into consideration both talent and depth, list the 5 teams with the best group of defensemen in the eastern conference.

Please post your answers as a comment. In asking these questions I hope to get a bit of a discussion going as well as hopefully give us all a bit more insight on hockey around the NHL. If this goes well I’ll pose more questions in the future. I plan on following up this post in a few days with my answers and my thoughts on the discussion.

To help you out, here is a list of each teams currently signed (or unsigned RFA) defensemen who are likely or could possibly make play next season (to the best of my knowledge).

Atlanta Thrashers: Ron Hainsey, Tobias Enstrom, Garnet Exelby, Niclas Havelid, Ken Klee
Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Wideman, Aaron Ward, Andrew Ference, Andrew Alberts, Mark Stuart, Shane Hnidy
Buffalo Sabres: Henrik Tallinder, Jaroslav Spacek, Toni Lydmin, Craig Rivet, Nathan Paetsch, Andrej Sekera
Carolina Hurricanes: Joe Corvo, Joni Pitkanen, Niclas Wallin, Dennis SEidenberg, Tim Gleason, Frantisek Kaberle, Josef Melichar, Anton Babchuk
Florida Panthers: Jay Bouwmeester, Bryan Allen, Nick Boynton, Karlis Skrastins, Mike Van Ryn, Keith Ballard, Steve Montador, Cory Murphy, Noah Welch
Montreal Canadiens: Andrei Markov, Roman Hamrlik, Mike Komisarek, Mathieu Dandeneault, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon, Ryan O’Byrne
New Jersey Devils: Colin White, Paul Martin, John Oduya, Vitaly Vishnevski, Mike Mottau, Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador, Sheldon Brookbank
New York Islanders: Mark Streit, Andy Sutton, Brendan Witt, Freddy Meyer, Radek Martinek, Bruno Gervais, Chris Campoli
New York Rangers: Wade Redden, March Staal, Michal Rozsival, Dmitri Kalinin, Paul Mara, Dan Girardi
Ottawa Senators: Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Jason Smith, Andrej Meszaros, Brian Lee, Christoph Schubert
Philadelphia Flyers: Kimmo Timonen, Derian Hatcher, Randy Jones, Lasse Kukkonen, Braydon Coburn, Randy Jones, Ryan Parent, Ossi Vaananen
Pittsburgh Penguins: Sergei Gonchar, Ryan Whitney, Hal Gill, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Mark Eaton, Rob Scuderi, Darryl Sydor
Tampa Bay Lightning: Matthew Carle, Filip Kuba, Paul Rangers, Shane O’Brien, Andrew Hutchinson, Mike Lundin, Alexandre Picard
Toronto Maple Leafs: Bryan McCabe, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Jeff Finger, Carlo Colaiacovo, Antron Stralman, Ian White
Washington Capitals: Mike Green, Tom Poti, Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina, Brian Pothier, John Erskine, Jeff Shultz

Posted in NHL

This article has 24 Comments

  1. I’d take Volchenkov, Markov and Kaberle over Kubina.

    Kubina only had like 2-3 months of good play, it doesn’t make me forget about the first season and most of the second.

    I’m sure some wise ass will pull out some stats to make Kubina look good but the fact of the matter is that any person who has a remote idea about hockey will tell you what I did about Kubina.

  2. I’ve read your articles a few times, I noticed a few typos in some past ones… I figure the least I can do is throw you a bone on this question… Is this best related to Fantasy Hockey or actual real NHL hockey?

    1. Chara is probably the best, after him in no particular order based on potential/production: Wade Redden, Ryan Whitney, Tomas Kaberle, and Kimmo Timmonen or Bryan McCabe I’d say round out the top 5. Honestly compared to the West its not even close in terms of Talent. I wouldn’t have Boyle in the top 10 for the East D-men, his -29 was the worst among all NHL D-men last year. Only Bonk with a -31 had a worse rating, but at least he wasn’t on pace for over -60… Hopefully with him banished to the west, paired with Blake who already has a -26 season under his belt… That will help even out the difference with the West D-Men being overly better than the East.

    2. Top 5 teams is going to be tough, almost all of them have issues. In no particular order I guess Boston would be in the top 5. The Maple Leafs might be in that mix, though I think they are moving McCabe and over paid for Finger :). Florida getting 2 D-men for their franchise center, better be in the top 5 for their sake. After that I guess Montreal, even though they lost Streit, then the Rangers with picking up Redden probably are in the mix.

    I will say Tampa probably improved the most just by ditching Boyle’s -29 liability. Not to mention picking up D-men that can play a more complete game than him. Atlanta might have the worst defense, even after losing Steve McCarthy and his -23 rating. You left out a name on the Devils D-line, who could easily be another Rafalski. I don’t want to say the name though in case somebody in my fantasy league tries to steal him. The Devils defense could be in the top 5 from a Hockey Perspective, but there not many I’d want in Fantasy Hockey.

  3. This is about real hockey, not fantasy hockey. In other words, if you ran a team who would be the top 5 defensemen in the east you would try to acquire.

  4. Ok, here’s my list of top individual defenseman, in no particular oder:

    Bouwemeester (as of right now… I know he’s likely on the way out of South Beach)

    As for your 2nd question, before I answer that, I know on of the teams that doesn’t have a top 5 defense are my Bolts, that’s for damned sure. To continue:

    NY Rangers
    PIT Penguins
    MTL Canadiens
    FLA Panthers
    NYR Rangers

    By the way, Ranger, don’t let Boyle’s +/- from last year fool you. He missed more than half the season, primarily from October-January, by the time he came back, the Bolts were finished. Dead. Also, it’s not like he had a team around him, right? That was painful watching them last year

  5. Best 5 defencemen in the east: Zdeno Chara, Sergei Gonchar, Jay Bouwmeester, Tomas Kaberle, Andrei Markov

    Teams with best groups of defencemen in the east: Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers

  6. Troy, are you the same guy Specter sent a hat tip to the other day? Why did you list the NY Rangers, then the NYR Rangers in your top 5 Defenses :)?

    I know Boyle only played 37 games, yet still managed -29, with 57 PMs, which is a pace for about a -60, with 120 PMS. I’d only worry if I was a Sharks fan about him and Blake playing together hehe. Blake at least had almost a full season 2 years ago when he came up with his -26. Boyle is a career -42 right now, hopefully they restrict him to the PP… I expect he will end up bought out of his contract, I can’t see him still playing for that kinda money at 35ish. The Sharks have some players coming off horrible years like Patrick and Cheech. Boyle better hope those guys rebound, since he clearly needs a good team around to carry him. While a top 5 D-man makes his team better, even a top tier offensive D-man can make an impact.

    At least everybody seems to agree on Chara as the best/top 5 sure fire. Shame the Islanders wasted so much talent on Defense in bad trades over the years. Toronto has Schenn & that Frogren guy coming, NHLPA is disputing the league, that should help solidify their defense even if they ship Bryan.

  7. Top 5: Gonchar, Chara, Bouwmeester, Komisarek, Kaberle, in that order. Honourable mention goes to Markov and Timonen.

    Top teams, in no particular order: Rangers, Penguins, Sens, Panthers, Flyers.

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that Gonchar is the best defenseman in the East. He’s one of the best puck-movers of his generation and his defensive play is very much overlooked. Bouwmeester is extremely underrated, and would be on par with Phaneuf if he didn’t play in Florida. He will be the best defenseman in the East once Gonchar retires.

    The best team defense question was a little tougher, as none of the teams out East boasts as talented a defense as Anaheim or Detroit. None of the East’s teams can boast a 1-2 punch like Niedermayer/Pronger or Lidstrom/Rafalski. It’s tough to see which team has the best defense, because I think they’re all fairly even.

    Redden was a nice addition to the Rangers, even if he was a little expensive. He’ll compliment Staal and Rozsival quite nicely. They’ve already got an underrated defense, and if goalies were counted they’d probably be the best in the East. Kalinin was a nice addition as well, and Mara is still good for about 25 points a year.

    The Pens are anchored by Gonchar and would not have made this list had they failed to re-sign Orpik. Gill and Whitney provide good depth, although I think Whitney can still play much, much better. He was one of the many X factors in the finals. They’ve got some serviceable 5/6 in Eaton, Scuderi, and Letang, whose development has somewhat stalled a little.

    The Sens defense actually remains largely the same, minus Redden, but improved by upgrading Richardson to Smith. The only problem now is that, with Meszaros still un-signed, Lee becomes their best puck mover, and he’s still inexperienced and I don’t think he can handle the load just yet. They lack an all-star puck mover (they struck out on Campbell and Boyle) to vault themselves ahead of the competition. They have arguably the best shutdown pair in Volchenkov and Phillips.

    The Panthers really bolstered their defense with Boynton and Ballard, although the same can’t be said about their offense. Bouwmeester is one of the best in the East and Allen is a tough guy to play against. He was not the centrepiece in the Luongo deal but he was panned out the best for Florida. Skrastins was a nice pick-up at the deadline, and Murphy was on pace for a 30 point season before it was cut short by injury.

    The Flyers had the big names on their roster – Timonen and Hatcher. The two are polar opposites in terms of playing styles, and that allowed Stevens to really be able to put a good defensemen on the ice, no matter what the situation. Coburn is really developing into another shut-down defenseman, while Syvret, Kukkonen, Eminger, and Vaananen provide some nice depth.

  8. Interesting almost everybody listed Chara as top five players but nobody listed Boston as top five teams.

  9. no order:


    upstarts= Enstrom and Parent. Watch out for Brian Lee

  10. I like making the traditional mix pairings, one offensive, one defense, with the top pairing having the best defensive attributes, durability, and able to log big minutes.
    Chara, Komisarek
    Bowmeester, Volchenkov

    Third Pairing

    Phillips, Green

  11. Chris Phillips is hardly a big minute defenseman. He played 22:28 a game which was good for 48th in the NHL.

    Chris Phillips: 81gp, 5g, 18pts, 22:28, +15
    Pavel Kubina: 72gp, 11g, 40pts, 23:55, +5

    The forwards Kubina played most against are:
    Jochen Hecht, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Vanek, St. Louis, Stillman, Ovechkin, Spezza, Fisher, Viktor Kozlov, Jeff Carter, Eric Staal, Paul Gaustad, Vincent Lecavalier, etc. so you cannot argue that he hasn’t played against great offensive players.

    Phillips played the most against Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Marc Savard, Vaclav Prospal, Alex Kovalev, Glen Murray, Jason Blake, Tomas Plekanec, Vincent Lecavalier, Per Axelsson, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Jaromir Jagr, Chris Higgins, Alex Ovechkin, Olli Jokinen, Mike Comrie, Saku Koivu, Bill Guerin, etc.

    I am not sure the Phillips grouping is any better quality.

    If salary was not a factor, I think most teams would choose Kubina over Phillips. I may be wrong here but that is my gut feel. His advantage in offense out weights any advantage Phillips has defensively.

  12. David Kubina and Philips are 2 diffrent D. Kubina is a bit of an all around D, philips is primarily a shut down guy who takes the body. it depends what your looking for, but i would say philips is slightly better.

    as for top D, bouwmeester, gonchar, chara, markov, timonen. honorable mention to kaberle, meszros, komisarek, green.

    top d defensive corps…

    in no particuar order: florida, montreal, ottawa, pittsburg, rangers.

  13. Phillps has a lower ice time only because he doesn’t play the PP. He is among or the top ice time getter on the PK though, which is wayyyy tougher minutes then playing ES or especially the PP, which are considered easy minutes, particularly for Dmen as they require little skating and even less contact. This is where so many undervalue Phillips, they entirely skip over the difficulty of the ice time he plays, and instead focus on points and “easy” ice time to vastly over inflate the value of other Dmen. The fact is, Kubina, from an opportunity adjusted point of view, is good offensively, but is poor defensively. Where as Phillips is weak offensively, but elite caliber defensively. Kubina’s PP ice time is worth 3:51 min/g, PK time is 3:56 min/g, ES is worth 16:07.
    Phillips PP ice time is 0:23 min/g, PK time is 4:32 min/g, ES is worth 17:33 min/g. In terms of offensive opportunity, obviously Kubina has a much greater opportunity to score and accumulate points. From a just plain effort point of view, Phillips has much more strenuous ice time, which masks the rigors of his ATOI numbers versus other Dmen.

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