In a shocking vote, you, the voters, declared Colorado's defense worse than Edmonton's defense. I thought this was a shocker until I saw the futures odds to win The Stanley Cup, especially the Western Conference breakdown. Columbus is 15th, with Colorado and Edmonton tied for 13th. With shiny new goal-scoring forward Jeff Carter on board to complement Rick Nash, Antoine Vermette, R.J. Umberger, Derick Brassard, Matt Calvert and Ryan Johansen, it's tough to see how the forwards are at fault for the long odds in Columbus. It's gotta be the defense or the goaltending, so I thought "Why not find out which one the public finds to be at fault?"
As I did in the Colorado - Edmonton comparison, I've broken down the expected defensive depth charts by defensive side to make the comparisons more orderly.
|Fedor Tyutin||Jan Hejda|
As with the last comparison, this isn't necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison - Kyle Cumiskey's contract will significantly alter Colorado's cost, which will be rather interesting because Cumiskey and Russell are essentially the same player. Small, mosquito-like defenseman who get the benefit of protection and zonestarts and put up extremely similar underlying numbers. The second-pairing goes to Methot, as he's played tougher competition with less zonestart protection and he's done a better job than Wilson has. Tyutin wins the top pairing because he took Hejda's tough minutes job away last year and he'll handle it again this year.
Verdict: The Blue Jackets win in a sweep.
Wisniewski's enormous contract pushes the Jackets' total cost up and clear of the Avs' costs. Wisniewki's numbers have improved so much over the past two seasons that I don't think his cap hit is bad, though the term remains indefensible. His power play prowess might disappear after he leaves Montreal and he doesn't kill penalties. He's also never played a shutdown role. However, he's running slightly ahead of Johnson right now. Quincey can handle himself in all situations and Martinek can't be counted on to stay healthy. Clitsome needs protection in all situations and O'Byrne is ready to take on more.
Verdict: The Avs win in a split decision.
The Jackets have gone bargain-basement with their defensive depth - even the alternates to this not-yet sorted-out situation, John Moore and Nick Holden, are signed to sub-$1 million contracts. The problem here is they aren't getting much value from those bargain deals. Savard and Moore may someday be excellent defenders, but they're both still on their ELCs and aren't going to provide much help unless one of them decides he's Karl Alzner.
Verdict: The Avalanche win this one in a big way.
|Total Cap Hit
Cumiskey's deal will make the numbers much closer, so the Avs can't win on value. 4 of the top 6 go to the Blue Jackets, but the Avs win the depth contest in a blowout. I have a feeling this is going to be a close vote.