In the first installment of this series, we set out what we're trying to accomplish and how we'd come up with a list of suitable candidates. Based on our criteria of a minimum of 36 games played (75% of all games; equivalent to 62 games in a full season) and a minimum of 22:00 ATOI (representative of a top defender in the league), we came up with 45 names to consider.
The biggest omissions from the list include;
Without much left to explain, let's take a look at each of the eight categories we identified, and start looking at who will build the best case for the Norris Trophy.
Before we start, one quick word on the scoring. In Part One, I outlined the percentage of points that would come from each category (25%, for example, from ES TOI). Whomever has the highest score in each category gets 100% of the available points, and everyone else receives a percentage of the available points based on the ratio of their score compared to the first place guy.(I'll explain the scoring in more detail in the first example; once you see the numbers it should make sense). The logic here is that if somebody was head and shoulders above everybody else (like how Karlsson scored like an elite forward last year), this should give them a sizable advantage relative to the rest.
|Even Strength PPG|
|Rk||Name||GP||ES Pts||ES PPG||%|
Byfuglien wins out over Yandle by the slimmest of margins (If you take it to more decimal points, it's 0.418 vs. 0.417). So Byfuglien gets the full points but Yandle loses virtually nothing compared to him. It was interesting to me to see Markov and Boyle, two D-men considered offensively minded, so far down the list.
|Power Play PPG|
|Rk||Name||GP||PP Pts||PP PPG|
Montreal's dynamic duo on the powerplay obliterated the field here, topped by a number of well-known power play specialists. Kronwall looks to have taken advantage of the void left by Niklas Lidstrom on Detroit's powerplay. The names at the bottom aren't surprising, given their reputation sa defensive-minded defenceman.
|Rk||Name||Z Start||Z Finish||Z Shift||%|
|45||Michael Del Zotto||59.7||51.2||-8.5||0.00|
Even though zone shift has its problems, the names that it popped up at the bottom of the list make sense to me, given the three players reputations for being more offensive than defensive (and the Zone Starts bear that out). Ron Fucking Hainsey, though? Who knew?
I should mention here the scoring is slightly different for Zone Shift and Quality of Competition, because of the use of a metric that can be positive and negative. Hainsey gets the maximum score, Del Zotto (in last) gets no score in this category. (Yandle too, since he tied with MDZ). For everyone else, their score is the ratio of the difference between their individual score and Del Zotto's score, and the difference between Hainsey and Del Zotto's score.
So for Jack Johnson (somehow 2nd despite his reputation as a possession black hole), he finished 17.4 percentage points ahead of MDZ, where Hainsey finished 18.8 points ahead of MDZ. So Johnson gets 17.4/18.8=92.55% of the available points. Hope that makes sense.
Shots Against / 60
|Shots Against / 60|
Less than 20 shots against per 60 minutes is absurd. You go, Andy Greene. Some interesting names at the top here, and our own Dion Phaneuf bringing up the rear (thanks I believe in part to his AHL linemates for much of the year). Also, it's nice to see Jack Johnson back down at the bottom of a defensive metric for our sanity.
(Calculated using SF/60+MF/60 / SF/60+MF/60+SA/60+MA/60; all obtained from behindthenet.com)
With the exception of Andy Greene, who as we noted had an unbelievably low SA rate this season, the four defence showing up at the top of the Fenwick chart are considered some of the better defenceman in the league. It's also interesting that the bottom three in Fenwick are identical to the bottom three in Shots Against. Dion Phaneuf's possession stats this year were simply awful.
Penalty Kill Time On Ice
|Penalty Kill TOI|
The five names at the top of this list (which interestingly contains two Bruins) are horses for their respective teams and do a lot of unsung work on the penalty kill. Keith Yandle, on the other hand, appears to have gone on to the ice while Phoenix was shorthanded by accident.
Even Strength Time On Ice
|Even Strength TOI|
The five guys at the top of this list play more at even strength than the majority of defenceman in the league play period. That is astounding. Also interesting at how relatively low Markov, Subban and Robidas' totals are, over 4 full minutes behind the Wild's workhorse Ryan Suter.
Quality of Competition
|Quality of Competition|
|44||Michael Del Zotto||-0.066|
Here's the salt shaker Dion Phaneuf's awful possession stats must be taken with; it's not just that he leads the league in having played the most difficult minutes, it's that he's so far ahead of everyone else. Also apparently Dallas keeps Stephane Robidas tucked away in a "Break Glass In Case of Elite Forwards" case, given he plays the lowest ES time on our list but the minutes he does play are the 3rd most difficult among our list. Ron Hainsey's 5th hardest competition combined with his impressive zone shift numbers should make him a target for a team in need of a top four defender capable of playing against the other teams' best forwards (hint. hint.)
Based solely on the top 5 of each category, who can we consider some of the early favourites?
P.K. Subban finished at the top of two different categories and an impressive 2nd in a third, but he also finds himself at the bottom in the category worth the most points. The only other player to appear on three Top 5 lists was Zdeno Chara. Hedman, Phaneuf, Greene, Doughty, McDonagh, Hainsey and Campbell all appeared on two.
These tables only represent a small portion of the data; they're a snapshot of who was at the top and who lagged behind on each of our lists. Depending on how close some of our contenders are to the leaders in each of the categories (remember that being an "all-around" great defender is key here) could be lurking just below the leaders in every category.
In Part 3, we'll look at the honourable mentions and our Norris nominees.