Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Best Defenceman So Far This Season

Earlier this season, I picked Bryan McCabe as the best defenceman in the NHL so far this season as of that point. At that time, he was tied for the NHL scoring lead. In the meantime, McCabe has fallen back in the scoring race.

I was uncomfortable picking a player who is primarily valuable offensively as the best defender. Particularily, when his offensive value is mostly on power plays and not at even strength. The best defender in the NHL should have significant defensive value as well as offensive value.

Defensive play has changed under the obstruction crackdown. Physical play is discouraged significantly as it leads to countless penalties. Defensive play must be mostly positional play. There are players who succeed in this set of rules, but they are not necessarily the same group that excelled in 2003/04.

I think the player who best fits that description as the best defender so far this year is Wade Redden of the Ottawa Senators. He has always been a successful positional defender, although he was more physical in the more physical years past. Redden leads the Ottawa defence with nine points in ten games. He is also very valuable in his own zone. He has a league leading +9 +/- rating to show for his play.

Wade Redden is one of the biggest reasons that Ottawa has been a very good team so far this year.

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