Before leveling up from blogger to beat writer, James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail started assembling an annual list of top defensive skaters, based on a trio of metrics which do a reasonable job of identifying the top goal-preventers in the game. Even though his main job at the Globe & Mail is to provide updates on the Toronto Maple Leafs on a daily basis, he still exercises his inner stats geek by filing it as an article for the paper.
What you'll find this year is that a number of current and former Predators show up quite high in the standings, so follow after the jump to see who made the cut...
Mirtle uses three of the advanced numbers available at Behind the Net; first, the Quality of Competition each player faces, followed by the Goals Against rates while that player is on the ice in 5-on-5 play, and the penalty kill (4-on-5 only, which represents the bulk of PK work).
This method does leave open the influence of goaltending, which in the case of the Preds, definitely helps boost their results. That said, most of the guys discussed below have shown up on these lists in years past, lending credence to this assessment of their underlying work.
As far as the top defensive forwards go, the Nashville Predators have two entries in the Top 30 - David Legwand at #14, and Joel Ward at #22. The reason they stand out ahead of other defensively noteworthy forwards like Jerred Smithson and Nick Spaling is due to their greater QualComp - they're simply going head-to-head with more top lines on a regular basis.
Former Predator Adam Hall shows up at #26 for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
For the best defensive blueliners, Nashville's dynamic duo of Ryan Suter (#5) and Shea Weber (#14) stand out with strong numbers across the board. That would seem to go along with general perceptions that Suter's value is often overlooked since his play lacks the sensational aspects of Weber's, i.e. the mammoth slap shot and thundering physical play.
Another former Predator shows up on this list, too - Vancouver's Dan Hamhuis pops up at... #1.