In hockey, individual talents vary widely. Taylor Hall is a gifted all-around talent who tilts the ice and creates scoring chances; Steve Tambellini is adept at incoherent interviews. Jeff Petry is outstanding at puck recovery and moving the puck out of the zone; Cam Barker is amazing at fooling NHL General Managers.
Colten Teubert, the17th-ranked player in our Top 25 Under 25, has no great specific talent, but he's carved out a role for himself in the professional game -- the defensive defenseman. Unfortunately for Teubert, the defensive defenseman is the most common and least valuable type of defenseman in the professional game. The best of those players are highly sought-after in the free agent and trade markets, while the average defensive defenseman has become commoditized in personnel dealings.
Teubert debuted in our rankings at #20 last summer after being dealt for Dustin Penner, then used a reputation for physical play to move up to #13 in the winter rankings. Teubert has slipped back the other way this time around, and I think the realization that the most likely positive outcome for Teubert's career is "commodity" has set in amongst our panel.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||Jon||Ryan||Scott|
Though Teubert isn't as divisive as the goaltenders ranked just behind him, there's a difference of ten spots between Scott's #13 and Ben's #23 and it's not like either of them are true outliers. But why is Teubert sliding?
Think of it this way - Colten Teubert has a limited skill set, especially when it comes to puck movement and passing ability. Sure, he's a big player with a physical bent, but plenty of players like that sit at the ready, waiting for a call from the NHL, or waiting for a regular assignment in the NHL.
The pinnacle of Teubert's player type is either
- A player similar to Willie Mitchell - mean, physical, penalty-prone, mistake-prone early in his career and on a long development curve, but has zero offensive ability.
- A player similar to Rob Scuderi - patient, smart, knows his angles and understands all aspects of the defensive game, but has zero offensive ability.
What happens if Teubert doesn't put the whole defensive thing together? He's a first-round draft choice, so he's going to get a couple of chances, though the Oilers are his second chance. He's big, so GMs like Dale Tallon will always give him a contract, but without both sides of the game, his peak is already chopped in half. Ben stresses that point in his assessment:
What does anyone see in Colten Teubert? No, really, what? Offensively, he's garbage. Absolute garbage; you would have to be a pretty staggeringly competent defensive defenseman to make up for the sheer puck impotence this man brings to the rink every God-forsaken night. And he is not a staggeringly competent defensive defenseman; in fact he's crap. He's a poor man's Cory Cross, quite frankly, and at age 22 he's shown nary a whit of improvement in his professional career since he came up as the seventh-best defenseman on the 2010-11 Manchester Monarchs. Maybe I'm bitter at him because he's a big man who can't play hockey who we got in exchange for a big man who can. But the fact of the matter is that if he weren't a 13th-overall pick who was traded for a first-line forward he'd be selling shoes in Siberia.
But he's not the ball of goo Ben makes him out to be. In fact, Scott thinks he's going to become an NHL regular and soon:
Colten Teubert took a nice step forward in 2011-12. He played very well in the AHL and got his first taste of NHL action. He wasn't very good in his 20 NHL games, but a big part of making it in the NHL is getting opportunities. Teubert will get some, not least because his physical style is something the Oilers are looking to add. Going into 2012-13, I think he's probably ninth on the team's depth chart, but I also think he'll get quite a bit of NHL action. If he takes a similar step forward this season (adjusting to the quickness of the game in the NHL will take time, but reducing the number of minor penalties, especially at the AHL level, is a must), I wouldn't be surprised to see the Oilers slot him in as a regular for 2013-14. He may top out there, but he could also keep growing and emerge as a guy who can play as a top four defender by the time he's twenty-five or twenty-six. That combination of "likely NHL player" and "possible good NHL player" has him ranked quite high on my list.
I have seven other defensemen ranked in front of Teubert and six of them are multi-dimensional players who can move the puck well. The other, Kyle Bigos, is bigger, meaner and more physical than Teubert. Teubert's big advantage on most of them is timing. He's got a small window to prove he can be more Rob Scuderi than Cam Barker and needs to make the most of it. Now.