Worst Defense - Colorado or Minnesota? You Decide, Part III

LOS ANGELES CA - FEBRUARY 24: Alexei Ponikarovsky #27 of the Los Angeles Kings is checked into the boards by Nick Schultz #55 of the Minnesota Wild in the second period at Staples Center on February 24 2011 in Los Angeles California. The Kings defeated the Wild 4-2. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

I didn't mean for this to turn into a tournament, but once Colorado lost to Edmonton, I had to see just how bad they were.  Columbus steamrolled them, which casts the Avalanche in an incredibly negative light.  But the Avs have to be better than someone, right?  They can't have the worst defense in the league, after all, they've traded for Erik Johnson and Ryan O`Byrne and signed Jan Hejda.  That has the makings of something, no?

To see how bad fans think they are, I sought advice on my next matchup.  I asked the C&B writing crew and they suggested Minnesota.  I asked a couple of SB Nation writers and editors and they suggested Florida...and Minnesota.  I asked some stat geeks and they suggested Ottawa...and Minnesota.  If Minnesota is the worst they can all come up with after Edmonton, Colorado and Columbus, it's time to create a poll.

After the jump, we check into the Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche defensive corps comparison.  Will the conclusion be surprising, like it was against Edmonton and Columbus?

As I did in the Colorado - Columbus comparison, I've broken down the expected defensive depth charts by defensive side to make the comparisons more orderly.

Left Defense
Nick Schultz Jan Hejda
Marek Zidlicky
Ryan Wilson
Jared Spurgeon
Kyle Cumiskey



Nick Schultz is one of the most underrated defenseman in the league.  Marek Zidlicky can move the puck like only a Czech defenseman can.  Jared Spurgeon is a little guy who will play a minimal amount of minutes. Jan Hejda is overpaid with too much term.  Ryan Wilson is coming on strong and is going to be very good and Kyle Cumiskey is a borderline NHLer.

Verdict:  The Wild win this one, even if only on the strength of Schultz.

Right Defense
Clayton Stoner
Erik Johnson
Greg Zanon
Kyle Quincey
Mike Lundin
Ryan O`Byrne



Johnson beats Stoner on pedigree alone, and though Quincey has been a pretty darned good NHL defenseman, Zanon is one of the best defensive defenseman in the league.  Lundin showed well with Tampa, but O`Byrne might be the shutdown guy Colorado hasn't had since Adam Foote was actually good - before the lockout.

Verdict:  The Avs win in a split decision, but if dollars spent are included, I think the Wild are getting more value out of their troika. 

Press Box
Justin Falk
Shane O`Brien
Marco Scandella
Matt Hunwick



The Wild have nothing but bargain-basement on ELCs, and the Avs are slotting in experienced depth.  Cumiskey might end up in this twosome in the end and that would change the balance of the matchup.  The Avs win this but they're spending a bunch of money on depth defense.  

Verdict: The Avalanche win this one in a big way.

Total Cap Hit
12.959 14.7


A team spending less on their defense than the Avs?  I'm stunned.  And overall the Wild are probably in front of the Avs.  The left defense is dominant and the matchups are close.  I think the Avs might win the vote, but it won't be easy.

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