[Wild About Numbers]: Pending UFA Defencemen Who Could Improve The Wild's 3rd Pairing At The Deadline

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

After a great start to the season, the Wild's 3rd pairing as become a point of weakness and needs to be improve if the team is to have any chance of making a playoff run this year. Who are the best options out there at the deadline?

Before I get into the nitty gritty, it's worth noting that the Wild's 3rd pairing has been Keith Ballard with Clayton Stoner for most of the season. Nate Prosser has been in the mix as well but, due to injuries to injuries to Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella, he has spent a lot of time recently on the 2nd pairing. There was also a spell when Matt Dumba played on the 3rd pairing. During the early part of the season, it was a very consistent pairing for the Wild, but has gradually declined since Dumba got sent back to juniors and injuries forced the Wild into playing Ballard, Stoner and Prosser all at once.

Right now, as Spurgeon and Scandella return to the line-up, the 3rd pairing should improve with Stoner a healthy scratch and Nate Prosser, who has done okay on the 2nd pairing, taking his spot on the 3rd. Still, Prosser doesn't have a good track record and the Wild could do with a better option who could move into the top-4 and play an effective role if another injury occurs.

The Wild have something of a logjam on the left side of their defence, with Suter, Brodin, Scandella, Ballard and Stoner all being lefties and only Spurgeon and Prosser being righties. It might help the balance of the blueline if the Wild could swap out one of Stoner or Ballard for a right-sided upgrade.


I began by looking at the list of defencemen who will be UFA at the end of the season and eliminated them if they were:

  • Not good enough.
  • Too expensive against the cap.
  • Unlikely to be dealt due to team's need for them in the playoffs.
  • Old and washed-up.
  • Playing a very offensive role that is at odds with the Wild's 3rd pairing deployment.
  • Putting up terrible underlying numbers.


Eventually I narrowed the rental options down to 5 players:

  1. Ron Hainsey
  2. Mark Fayne
  3. Anton Stralman
  4. Henrik Tallinder
  5. Anton Belov

*

Firstly, here's a player usage chart (from Hockey Abstract dot com) showing those 5 defencemen and the Wild's 3 bottom pairing options (Stoner, Ballard, Prosser):

Rental_defencemen_medium

*Bubble colour indicates positive (blue) or negative (red) Corsi relative with the depth indicating amount.
*Bubble size indicates TOI/G

  • Looking at their usage and Corsi above, Mark Fayne clearly plays the toughest competition, but is producing excellent results. Belov's numbers are fairly impressive too on a bad Oilers team.
  • Stralman has the best Corsi, dramtically tilting the ice in his team's favour, but gets a higher percentage of offensive zone starts than the rest of this group.
  • Hainsey's a got a good looking Corsi, but against very soft competition.
  • You can see that none of the other 5 defencemen currently play situations similar to the Wild's 3 bottom pairing options (i.e. soft competition but tough zone starts), but one can assume that Belov, Fayne, Stralman or Tallinder would produce much better results against that level of competition even with the lower percentage of offensive zone starts.


*


Now that we've looked at the advanced stats and usage, let's look at the more detailed individual stats for each of the 5 rental defencemen (detailed stats for Prosser, Stoner and Ballard can be found here).

I have also included rankings beside several of their stats. These rankings (1st to 8th) include Stoner, Prosser and Ballard to give you an idea of how the 5 potential rentals compare to them:


Ron Hainsey

Career GP

652

2nd

P

12

1st

Career Pts

205

1st

EVTm%

36.8%

1st

Age

32

PPTm%

12.7%

3rd

Rookie Year

2002/03

SHTm%

43.0%

2nd

Cap Hit

$2,000,000

2nd

5v5 G/60

0.23

2nd

Shoots

Left

5v5 P/60

0.45

5th

Height

6 ft 3

2nd-T

5v5 P1/60

0.34

2nd

Weight

210 lb

5th

5v5 CF/60

6.3

7th

GP

61

5v5 SF/60

2.8

4th

G

4

1st

Sh%

7.1%

A

8

1st

Career Sh%

4.1%


Pros:

  • Play big minutes for Carolina at EV and SH.
  • Well rounded game, experienced.
  • Good possession numbers.

Cons:

  • Slightly hefty cap hit.
  • Plays soft minutes.



Mark Fayne

Career GP

222

5th

P

6

6th-T

Career Pts

43

5th

EVTm%

32.3%

4th

Age

26

PPTm%

0.7%

6th

Rookie Year

2010/11

SHTm%

34.3%

4th

Cap Hit

$1,300,000

5th

5v5 G/60

0.22

3rd

Shoots

Right

5v5 P/60

0.44

6th

Height

6 ft 3

2nd-T

5v5 P1/60

0.29

4th

Weight

220 lb

1st

5v5 CF/60

9.5

1st

GP

52

5v5 SF/60

4.2

2nd

G

3

2nd

Sh%

4.8%

A

3

8th

Career Sh%

4.5%


Pros:

  • Plays tough minutes and yet crushes it in terms of puck possession.
  • Pretty young.
  • Big frame.
  • Right-sided.
  • Could be available with the Devils only on the playoff bubble right now.
  • Cheap cap hit.

Cons:

  • If the Devils feel they need a big push to make the post season, they're unlikely to want to move many pieces.



Anton Stralman

Career GP

374

4th

P

8

3rd

Career Pts

107

4th

EVTm%

35.1%

2nd

Age

27

PPTm%

5.3%

4th

Rookie Year

2007/08

SHTm%

35.1%

3rd

Cap Hit

$1,700,000

3rd

5v5 G/60

0.06

7th

Shoots

Right

5v5 P/60

0.47

4th

Height

6 ft 1

4th

5v5 P1/60

0.18

6th

Weight

180 lb

8th

5v5 CF/60

8.5

2nd

GP

61

5v5 SF/60

4.3

1st

G

1

6th-T

Sh%

1.3%

A

7

2nd-T

Career Sh%

3.7%


Pros:

  • Cheap cap hit for a player of his calibre.
  • Well-rounded skills.
  • Great corsi number.
  • Right-sided.
  • Relatively young: ideal option to extend.

Cons:

  • The Rangers may want to keep him for the playoffs or re-sign him
  • Sees fairly o-zone heavy starts compared to the Wild's bottom pairing guys.



Henrik Tallinder

Career GP

660

1st

P

7

4th-T

Career Pts

141

3rd

EVTm%

33.6%

3rd

Age

35

PPTm%

0.9%

5th

Rookie Year

2001/02

SHTm%

43.5%

1st

Cap Hit

$3,375,000

1st

5v5 G/60

0.16

4th

Shoots

Left

5v5 P/60

0.57

3rd

Height

6 ft 3

2nd-T

5v5 P1/60

0.33

3rd

Weight

216 lb

3rd

5v5 CF/60

6.2

8th

GP

46

5v5 SF/60

2.5

6th

G

2

3rd-T

Sh%

6.1%

A

5

3rd-T

Career Sh%

4.9%


Pros:

  • Veteran leadership.
  • Decent underlying numbers.
  • Big time penalty killer.
  • Doing well on a bad team.


Cons:

  • He's 35 and would be unlikely to re-sign in the Summer.
  • His cap hit is way too high.


Anton Belov

Career GP

48

8th

P

6

5th-T

Career Pts

6

8th

EVTm%

31.5%

5th

Age

27

PPTm%

26.8%

1st

Rookie Year

2013/14

SHTm%

10.5%

8th

Cap Hit

$925,000

7th

5v5 G/60

0.09

6th

Shoots

Left

5v5 P/60

0.34

8th

Height

6 ft 4

1st-T

5v5 P1/60

0.09

8th

Weight

218 lb

2nd

5v5 CF/60

7.1

5th-T

GP

48

5v5 SF/60

2.4

7th-T

G

1

6th-T

Sh%

2.2%

A

5

3rd-T

Career Sh%

2.2%


Pros:

  • Large frame.
  • Good underlying numbers in tough enough minutes.
  • Contributes on the powerplay.
  • Very low cap hit.

Cons:

  • Very inexperienced.
  • Currently injured and could miss a couple of weeks.


-Here's each player's cap hit along with the Wild's space so you can see what they have to work with in terms of making a move for one of these defencemen:

PLAYER

AGE

2013/14 CAP HIT

Tallinder

35

$3,375,000

Hainsey

32

$2,000,000

Stralman

27

$1,700,000

Ballard

31

$1,500,000

Fayne

26

$1,300,000

Stoner

29

$1,050,000

Belov

27

$925,000

Prosser

27

$825,000

WILD SPACE

$3,231,330


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


In my opinion, the best options are Stralman, Hainsey or Fayne. Any one of them would probably cost the Wild one of their current depth defencemen and maybe a couple of picks but would give the team much better defensive depth and would be worthy of re-signing in the Summer.

I'd happily do "Ballard, a 5th this year and a 4th next year" for Fayne and slot him on to the 3rd pairing.


What are your thoughts, Wilderness?


Follow me on Twitter for more Wild talk.



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