A talented, home-grown group of defensemen has long been a Nashville Predators hallmark, and never has that been more relied upon than this fall, as multiple rookies were expected to fill regular spots in the lineup, while others continue working their way toward the NHL. How has this strategy worked so far, however? It's time to break down the individual performance of the Preds' blueliners this season and hand out some grades...
First, let's lay out the Behind The Net data, along with my Adjusted Corsi (which compensates for guys who start shifts in the defensive zone often or get cushy starts in the offensive end). A legend can be found at the bottom.
NOTE: Grades are relative to an individual's role on the team, i.e. Shea Weber's expectations are higher than Jonathon Blum's.
|Name||GP||TOI||CORSI||CORSI REL||Net ZS||Adj Corsi||SPCT||SVPCT||PDO||G/60||A/60||Pts/60||CORSI Rel QoC||CORSI Rel QoT|
The perils of PDO caught up with Blum this fall, after some insanely fortunate results in 23 games last season. Sophomore slumps are quite common, however, so the hope here is that a few weeks in Milwaukee will get him back on track. In particular, his lack of production on the power play was a disappointment, as it was hoped that he could fill Cody Franson's shoes to some extent there.
|2011 - Francis Bouillon||18||0||3||3||-7||13||0||0||0||14||0|
His return from Injured Reserve helped the team move rookies like Blum back to the 3rd pair, which in and of itself provides value to the team at large, even though his statistical results don't jump off the page. The model in Nashville is for the top pair to lead the way, and to basically break even (or stay close to it) elsewhere, so that extent Bouillon's nickname should be changed from The Cube to "The Tourniquet". Just slowing down the bleeding while taking on tough competition is a job well done here.
His early results on the penalty kill have been nightmarish, but we'll reserve judgement there due to small sample size and the injury issues he's working through.
|2011 - Jack Hillen||28||2||3||5||-2||12||0||0||0||25||8.0|
As a depth addition to the lineup, Hillen has given the Preds an option to plug into the lineup while Bouillon was injured and rookies learned the ropes. His roster spot is not assured, however, as he's been scratched twice already this season.
Hillen's results portray a little something for everyone - some opportunistic offense, for sure, but the overall possession numbers are quite poor, especially considering the relatively soft opposition he faces.
|2011 - Kevin Klein||28||1||4||5||-13||4||0||0||1||28||3.5|
The everlasting lightning rod of the Predators fan base, Klein naturally draws criticism for one of the worst Plus/Minus ratings in entire NHL. The 5-on-5 possession numbers are indeed pretty grizzly, and the only qualifications one can offer are the stiff competition he faces and lack of a consistent partner to work with. He has been a heavy lifter on the penalty kill, and one underrated aspect of his game is the fact that he takes so few penalties while defending Top 6 forwards night after night.
|2011 - Ryan Suter||30||5||15||20||+11||22||3||1||1||64||7.8|
Hmm... somebody smells a new contract, eh? Suter is on his way to posting career-best results in just about every category. He soaks up major minutes (2nd in the league in average TOI), drives the play positively compared to how the team does when he's on the bench, kills penalties with aplomb and is putting up some results on the power play, too. While I wouldn't expect that Team Save Percentage of .950 in 5-on-5 play to hold up (meaning we'll see some more goals scored against while he's on the ice), that isn't likely to get in the way of Suter putting together a career year.
As I wrote recently, he's the head of the upcoming class of unrestricted free agent defensemen, and could surely command a king's ransom on the open market. We'll leave room for an A+ here if Ryan decides to go with the hometown discount and sign a long-term extension soon.
|2011 - Shea Weber||30||6||15||21||+14||24||4||1||0||94||6.3|
The Captain is on his way to setting personal highs as well in a number of areas. He's dominating play at even strength, on the power play, and on the penalty kill as well. And as we now know, he can score from anywhere in the building, even Section 317. Together with Suter, he takes on the toughest of the tough and comes out ahead, making them a clear-cut pick as the NHL's top defense pair.
You won't find any complaints about his $7.5 million salary here. Weber is now in his 4th consecutive season of elite performance, and there's no reason to believe that will let up any time soon. Once the calendar flips over to January, we can start wondering if and when an extension will get worked out with the Preds.
|CORSI||The balance of Total Shots For & Against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 while this player is on the ice.|
|CORSI REL||The difference between the team's Corsi when this player is on the ice, and when he's on the bench.|
|Net ZS||How often a player's shift starts in the Offensive Zone minus the Defensive.|
|Adj Corsi||Corsi adjusted for Zone Starts.|
|SPCT||Team Shooting Percentage while this player is on the ice in 5-on-5.|
|SVPCT||Team Save Percentage while this player is on the ice in 5-on-5.|
|PDO||SPCT + SVPCT, this trends strongly towards 1000. Extreme values are typically signs of "puck luck".|
|G/60||Goals scored by this player per 60 minutes of 5-on-5.|
|A/60||Assists by this player per 60 minutes of 5-on-5.|
|Pts/60||Points by this player per 60 minutes of 5-on-5.|
|CORSI Rel QoC||Quality of Competition calculated using Relative Corsi.|
|CORSI Rel QoT||Quality of Teammates calculated using Relative Corsi.|