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What's a 6th Defenseman Anyway? - A Brett Lebda Study

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Last night, for some reason or another, Brian Burke signed defenseman Brett Lebda to a two-year deal worth $1.45M per.  I'll just come out and say that I am not a fan of the signing.  Had Kaberle or Finger been moved/waived first, then I'd like it a little more. Anyways, it looks like Lebda will be our 6th defenseman for the upcoming season once Kaberle and Finger are dealt with.

That then got me thinking; Lebda's contract struck me as being too much for too little (he's 5'9"), I wonder what the average contract and performance of a #6 defenseman in the NHL is like?  So off to and I went to scrounge up some numbers.

To determine who was a team's #6 defenseman, I compared their TOI/G and their games played for the 2009-2010 season, and then used a little judgement to determine who was in fact that team's 6th defenseman for the majority of the season.  Then once I had my list of names, I plugged them into capgeek to determine their salary cap hit. If that player was under contract, I used that figure; if they had signed a new contract beginning in the 2010 season, I used that figure; if they had their contract expire this summer and have yet to sign a new contract, I used their cap hit from the previous season.

Check out the numbers and discussion after the jump.

Player Team TOI/G Pts $$ w/ bonus
Lebda DET 14:59 8 1.450
Brookbank ANA 14:57 9 0.750
Schubert ATL 15:46 7 0.883
Stuart BOS 17:01 7 1.300
Sekera BUF 17:26 11 1.000
Pardy CGY 15:51 9 0.700
Carson CAR 17:22 12 0.522
Barker CHI 13:05 21 3.083
Wilson COL 16:16 21 0.552
Russell CBJ 18:35 22 1.300
Fistric DAL 14:55 10 1.000
Strudwick EDM 16:56 6 0.725
Kulikov FLA 17:56 16 0.900 1.325
Drewiskie LAK 15:14 8 0.617
Hnidy MIN 13:32 14 0.750
O'Byrne MTL 15:15 4 0.942
Franson NSH 14:11 21 0.693
Fraser NJD 12:22 6 0.500
Meyer NYI 16:46 15 0.588
Gilroy NYR 16:18 15 1.750
Campoli OTT 17:50 18 0.633
Bartulis PHI 13:58 9 0.600
Demers SJS 15:25 21 0.543
Weaver STL 16:57 10 0.800
Walker TBL 16:09 5 1.700
Schenn TOR 16:52 17 0.875 2.975
O'Brien VAN 17:00 8 1.600
Erskine WAS 15:58 6 1.250
AVG 15:53 12.000 1.000



So basically a #6 defenseman plays 15:53 minutes a game on average; scores 12 points over the course of the season; and comes with a caphit of around $1M. (Note: If you remove Cam Barker from Chicago and replace him with Jordan Hendry, the average caphit falls to $912k)

So what does that tell us about Brett Lebda and the contract he was given yesterday? Well it tells me that for a 6th defenseman, he's overpaid and under performing. In fact, per my numbers, he's now the 4th highest paid #6 defenseman in the league.