[Wild About Numbers]: Who Were The Best Defensive Defencemen In The NHL This Season?

Hannah Foslien

Which defenceman had the toughest usage this season and how did they perform?

Things are pretty quiet in terms of Wild news right now, but I'm gonna keep breaking down some numbers from the past season. I've got a couple of big projects planned between now and the draft so keep an eye out for them. Today's piece is pretty short and sweet.

I wanted to see which defencemen were buried the most in terms of zone starts at even strength this season and who was able to put up good possession and scoring numbers in spite of that tough usage.

I set the criteria as: defencemen who had played at least 75% of games in the regular season, and chose the 20 with the toughest ZS% Rel (Zone Start%: OZ Starts/ [OZ Starts+DZ Starts] Relative to team).


-Here are the 20 defencemen along with the raw data:

Player

Team(s)

ZS% rel

QoC

Corsi Rel

1

TJ Brodie

Flames

-11.00%

1.28

17.1

2

Niklas Hjalmarsson

Blackhawks

-10.20%

0.948

-8.4

3

Marco Scandella

Wild

-9.60%

1.28

2.6

4

Johnny Oduya

Blackhawks

-9.50%

0.808

-9.9

5

Zdeno Chara

Bruins

-9.40%

-0.346

3.6

6

Dan Girardi

Rangers

-9.20%

0.777

-9.2

7

Andy Greene

Devils

-9.00%

0.096

4.2

8

Jan Hejda

Avalanche

-8.90%

2.043

-7.4

9

Chris Butler

Flames

-8.90%

0.887

-13.5

10

Brett Bellemore

Hurricanes

-8.90%

0.728

-3.2

11

Mark Giordano

Flames

-8.70%

1.908

22.8

12

Nicklas Grossmann

Flyers

-8.10%

0.218

-10.6

13

Ryan McDonagh

Rangers

-7.70%

0.918

-4

14

Erik Johnson

Avalanche

-7.60%

1.688

2.4

15

Roman Polak

Blues

-7.60%

-0.296

-12.5

16

Mark Fayne

Devils

-7.40%

0.306

1.6

17

Justin Braun

Sharks

-6.90%

0.134

1.6

18

Shea Weber

Predators

-6.70%

1.908

-1.9

19

Chris Phillips

Senators

-6.70%

-0.716

-3.6

20

Jack Johnson

Blue Jackets

-6.60%

0.372

-7

In the following chart, a blue circle means positive Corsi rel, a red circle means negative. The size of the bubble indicates the amount. The X-Axis represents ZS% Rel while the Y-Axis represents Quality Of Competition. Players towards the top left of the chart had tougher minutes while the players towards the bottom right had it easier.

Shutdown_defencemen_medium

(You might want to open that image in a new tab so you can see it full size.)

  • Brodie, Hjalmarsson and Scandella are got the toughest zone starts.
  • Hejda, Giordano, Erik Johnson and Weber saw the toughest competition.
  • Most of the players here have negative Corsi rel, which isn't surprising given that they played a shutdown role on their respective teams. There is a handful of players with positive Corsi rel, but not by much.
  • The two that stand out are T.J Brodie and Mark Giordano who clearly both made a massive difference to the Flames possession game every time they were on the ice. Those numbers are probably a little bit inflated by how terrible the rest of the Flames are, but that doesn't make it any less impressive.
*

I've narrowed the group down to the 5 defencemen with the toughest deployment last season. The follwing chart shows Quality Of Teammates instead of Competition and this time the bubble colour represents regular Corsi +/- instead of Corsi Rel.

Shutdown_teammates_medium

  • Hjalmarssson had the most impressive raw Corsi but benefited from extremely high QoT.
  • Brodie and Giordano both managed to post positive Corsi with low QoT.
  • Scandella's Corsi was negative, but not by much considering his tough zone starts and low QoT.
  • Hejda had slightly tougher usage than Scandella but much much worse results.


-Here's how each of those d-men scored at even strength and where they ranked in EV P/60 among regular d-men on their respective teams:

Player

Pos.

Team(s)

EV P/60

Team D Rank

1

Mark Giordano

D

Flames

1.21

1st

2

Niklas Hjalmarsson

D

Blackhawks

0.86

4th

3

Marco Scandella

D

Wild

0.82

2nd

4

TJ Brodie

D

Flames

0.74

4th

5

Jan Hejda

D

Avalanche

0.65

6th

  • Besides putting up great possession numbers in trying circumstances, Giordano was also the best d-men on the Flames in terms of P/60 and easily the best of this group.
  • Hjalmarsson scored at a slightly faster rate than Scandella, but Scandella ranked higher among Wild d-men than Hjalmarsson did on the Hawks.

*

Mark Giordano had a pretty amazing season and was clearly the best defensively-deployed defenceman in the league in 2013/14, but Wild fans should be pleased that Marco Scandella held his own with some of the top defensive guys around.

Still only 24, his strong even strength play in very tough deployment, along with his crucial role on the penalty kill suggests Scandella will be a vital component of this Wild team for years to come. His potential sometimes gets forgotten because he has been around for so long but he seems to be finally fulfilling the promise that led him to be drafted by the Wild 55th overall in 2008.

His stellar performance in the playoffs may well have earned him the chance to grab an even bigger role next season, hopefully taking more minutes away from the overworked Ryan Suter. Importantly, he produced at a good rate at even strength in spite of his tough zone starts. It's vital that he continues to devleop his offensive game to help the Wild's stagnant scoring.

Lack of size and lack or scoring are often pinpointed by fans as traits the Wild is lacking on the blueline but it seems like Scandella ticks both of those boxes.

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

Follow me on Twitter for more hockey talk.

Thanks to Extra Skater, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Abstract and SomeKindOfNinja for all the data.

For a quick advanced stats 101, read this. For more in-depth stuff, read this.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Hockey Wilderness

You must be a member of Hockey Wilderness to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Hockey Wilderness. You should read them.

Join Hockey Wilderness

You must be a member of Hockey Wilderness to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Hockey Wilderness. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker