Friday, September 26, 2008

Question Of The Day: Who's Got The Better Top 4 D?

In the spirit of Oren Koules's recent "best top six forwards in the league" proclamation, Thrasher blogger Ben Wright (via Puck Daddy, and far more measured than Koules, natch) throws the following out for discussion in the wake of Atlanta's acquisition of blueliner Mathieu Schneider from Anaheim:
"With the additions of Schneider and [Ron] Hainsey during the off-season and the returns of Tobias Enstrom and Niclas Havelid the Thrashers now have a very respectable group of top-four defensemen that is arguably the strongest foursome in the Southeast Division." [Emphasis mine]
Puck Daddy laments that the "[s]cary part is that he might be right," but I'm not so sure. And while the Panthers probably have a legitimate claim to that title, we'll focus on the team on whom we tend to focus around here and pit the Caps top four against Atlanta's. Here's the tale of the tape:

  1. Mathieu Schneider: 39 years old; 12G, 27A, +22 in 65 games for Anaheim in 2007-08; $5.625m cap hit in 2008-09
  2. Ron Hainsey: 27 years old; 8G, 24A, -7 in 78 games for Columbus in 2007-08; $4.5m cap hit in 2008-09
  3. Niclas Havelid: 35 years old; 1G, 13A, +2 in 81 games for Atlanta in 2007-08; $2.7m cap hit in 2008-09
  4. Tobias Enstrom: 23 years old; 5G, 33A, -5 in 82 games for Atlanta in 2007-08; $900k cap hit in 2008-09
  1. Mike Green: 22 years old; 18G, 38A, +6 in 82 games for Washington in 2007-08; $5.25m cap hit in 2008-09
  2. Tom Poti: 31 years old; 2G, 27A, +9 in 71 games for Washington in 2007-08; $3.5m cap hit in 2008-09
  3. Shaone Morrisonn: 25 years old; 1G, 9A, +4 in 76 games for Washington in 2007-08; $1.975m cap hit in 2008-09
  4. Jeff Schultz: 22 years old; 5G, 13A, +12 in 72 games for Washington in 2007-08; $750k cap hit in 2008-09
There are plenty more numbers out there to bring to the table, but let's start the discussion here - who are you taking for 2008-09, the Thrashers top four or the Caps'?


Red Rover said...

How is this issue even up for questioning? Caps D both this year and for the future and it's not even close.

The numbers speak for themselves, but beyond that our chemistry is excellent. We don't have a bunch of Phaneuf's, but a soundly built core of kids who can limit shots in number and quality. Oh and score a lot of them, in overtimes and such. That's what the good defenses do.

The Thrashers are aging spare parts (save for Enstrom) thrown together. Waddell is just doing his best poor man's Koules at this point.

Unknown said...

No question. M. Schneider, at this stage of his career (and maybe any stage) is not a game changer. 52 is.

55 and 26 are perfect cap-era D. 3 is the right veteran for this bunch. 55 is a better puck handler than he gets credit for. He's just no 52.

And ATL's 5-6-etc are... teh fail. They matter. Only last-placers argue that 2/3 of one unit is better than 2/3 of the same unit on your team.

The Peerless said...

There are a few ways to look at this...first, would I trade ours for theirs, solely on the basis of "hockey?"

No. I don't see the Thrashers' group being better at the end of the season than at the start. Enstrom has upside, but Hainsey is probably at or near his peak, and the other two are on the far (far) side of their careers. The Thrashers' group looks more prone to breaking down.

Second, which has better value? The Thrashers are going to be paying $13.7 million for those four. Schneider and Hainsey are, in my mind, over priced to their current (or likely) level of production. The Caps, even after Green's big payday, will be paying about $11.5 million for a group with better upside.

Third, fit. Do the Thrashers' four fit their club better than do the Caps' four fit theirs? Schneider is the vet who can be the glue on the blue line, and Enstrom might (although it's a bit of a stretch) grow into the sort of role with Kovalchuk that Green has with Ovechkin/Semin in terms of power play quarterbacking. I'm at something at a loss to see how Hainsey fits into the Thrashers' scheme.

Truth be told? this point in their respective positions, the Florida group is the best of the three, as a group.

DMG said...

I think it's really pretty simple

Green > Schneider
Poti > Hainsey
Morrisonn > Havelid
Schultz = Enstrom

I can't really see how you could argue the Thrashers have better defense.

JP said...

Needless to say, I agree with the group.

Perhaps a better question... is Atlanta's top four the worst in the Division?

We've established that the Caps and Panthers are easily better.

But would you rather that ATL group than Gleason, Corvo, Pitkanen and Kaberle? Or Meszaros, Ranger, O'Brien and Carle?

OK, it might be a stretch, but I think an easier argument can be made that Atlanta has the worst top four in the SED than that they have the best.

HotDog88GT said...

Let's trade for Enstrom.

Anonymous said...

I always find it amazing that a team makes a trade and suddenly the team is a contender? Atlanta's defense last year was hardly anything to write home about. Now dropping Mathieu Schneider into the defense in Atlanta is supposed to turn it around? Schneider's numbers will certainly drop next year, especially since he came from a defense oriented team. Not to mention that he's 39. Chemistry is also an issue -- certainly we learned that lesson from the Rangers.

JP said...

Also worth noting on Schneider - his games played in each of the last four seasons have been 78-72-68-65... and he's 39.

A definite upgrade over Kenny Klee, though.

Anonymous said...

I noticed this post on Blueland Blog earlier, and I made the exact same argument in a post there - that the Caps top 4 is superior to the Thrash top 4. I have now provided them the stats you showed on the original post, as well as observed that Florida is even better. I doubt they'll appreciate it, but it was fun. I did cite appropriately to the Peerless Prognosticator.

Reed-CK said...

this is like kicking a midget. Caps D by far.

The Peerless said...

Schneider is an upgrade over Klee...when he is in the lineup. Extrapolating that games-played trend, one wonders how this looks when Schneider is out of the lineup for 20 games, Garnet Exelby steps into the "top-four" (based on the Yahoo depth chart) and everyone moves up a notch.

As for the rankings (thinking in terms of comparative skill, value, and fit), I'd have:

Tampa Bay

Anonymous said...

Offensively, the Thrashers' top 4 is talented offensively.

Outside of Havelid, however, which of them can put the clamps down defensively? The Thrashers didn't need another offensive defenseman, and only Hainsey brings any size (6'3" per TSN).

I realize that any news in Blueland can be good news, and they've certainly acquired a useful (but 39 year old and undersized) player in Schneider, however, I think the perception is out of whack with the reality.

We'll certainly see on Opening Night.

- Empty

Anonymous said...

Mike Green wins this contest all by himself. He is most valuable blueliner in the SE. Not the best defensively, but most valuable. FLA defense is better than ours, but under philosophy a good defense is a good offense, this isn't an argument.

Anonymous said...

Peerless, Tampa has NO D, they shouldn't even be on the list. Ask Kolzig, he will tell you.

Whale4ever said...


In fact, in place of Allen, any of Murphy, Welch, Skrastins, or Boynton could be plugged in.

Florida's got it.