Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Apparently, Defensive Defensemen Need Not Apply

To the AHL All-Rookie Team, that is.

The six rookies named to the elite squad are:

Goaltender: Nathan Lawson, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (30gp, 18-9-2, 2.13gaa, .929sv%, 2so)

Defenseman: Mattias Karlsson, Binghamton Senators (67gp, 8+41=49pts.)

Defenseman: Yannick Weber, Hamilton Bulldogs (66gp, 14+27=41pts.)

Forward: Justin Abdelkader, Grand Rapids Griffins (71gp, 22+27=49pts.)

Forward: Nathan Gerbe, Portland Pirates (50gp, 26+24=50pts.)

Forward: Tim Kennedy, Portland Pirates (66gp, 16+43=59pts.)

We don't have a problem with the forwards (especially since two of them are fellow Michigan State alumni), although the criteria there appear to be points-based. We don't have a problem with Nathan Lawson as the top rookie goaltender, seeing as he is second in the entire league among all goalies in GAA and save percentage.

Our problem is with the defensemen. Mattias Karlsson and Yannick Weber happen to be the top two scorers among rookie defensemen. However, Karlsson is a -11 on a likely playoff team (Binghamton is fourth in the East Division), and it is a mark that is exceeded by only two other players on the Senators' roster.

As for Weber, he plays for a playoff participant (Hamilton has already clinched a spot), but his +9 is surpassed by eight other players on the roster, including a pair of fellow rookies, and is matched or exceeded by five other defensemen on the roster. One could make a case that these are the two best offensive defensemen in the rookie class.

We can appreciate there being few statistics that shine a bright light on defensemen, and plus-minus is a statistic that can be abused if taken out of context. But there is a rookie defenseman who is currently third in the AHL in that statistic. If you look closely, you would find that his +27 for the season is roughly the same as a number of teammates. On that basis, you might say -- with reason -- that his mark is the product of his surroundings. However, he accomplished his feat in a mere 42 games, not the almost-70 of his teammates and similar AHL leaders. And, he has a mere 10 penalty minutes taken this season, which speaks to his discipline as a player. His 19 points in 42 games apparently was not enough to convince the voters that he was one of the top two defensemen, without respect to adjective, in the league.

Karl Alzner, we're thinking you wuz robbed.


Reed-CK said...

Welcome to the rest of Karl's career. He's going to be a great defender but because he doesn't put up points, he'll likely be ignored by the MSM unless he becomes the greatest defender to play the game.

Oh well, we'll certainly love him right?

DunnLoringDan said...

Is Weber related to Shea Weber?

I feel like this is the same as Green for Norris... people are just biased by scoring.

Hooks Orpik said...

He only played half a season down there and your main argument is based off the somewhat fickle Plus/minus stat?

Not the most solid of cases.

I think if Alzner played 60-70 AHL games he'd deserve to be on the list. His circumstances, if anything, limited his chance to me.

The Peerless said...

So, he gets penalized because he was promoted? And the other two -- Karlsson in particular (36 of those 49 points were on the power play, which pretty much makes him a one-trick pony) -- are honored for being one-dimensional, and that dimension not being "defense?" The AHL has a lot of guys who yo-yo between the parent club and the affiliate. That Alzner is a rookie in that circumstance shouldn't, in my opinion, be disqualifying.

The Peerless said...

@ DLD...I suspect Green will get a lot of Norris consideration because of the record he set and the 30-plus goals. It's the same problem as what went on in the AHL voting. But he wouldn't be my pick. I've seen him all year, and defensemen can't have the brain-lock moments he has with the puck a little too often and win the Norris.

I doubt Yannick Weber is the brother of Shea. Yannick was born in Switzerland, Shea in British Columbia.

Hooks Orpik said...

So Peerless, I take it you'd endorse Ben Lovejoy (29 points, +43) over Danny Syvret (51 points, +2) for first team AHL defense?