Sunday, June 28, 2015

Comparisons for the Flames' Defence - Part 1 (Anaheim - Dallas)

Credit: Winslow Townson - USA Today Sports
After acquiring Dougie Hamilton from the Bruins on Friday, the Flames' defensive corps looks as strong as ever, featuring skilled blueliners such as Mark Giordano, Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland, Ladislav Smid, possibly including David Schlemko if he gets re-signed. It is definitely a top-10, if not a top-5 or even a top-3 corps in the entire National Hockey League, but where exactly does it slot in? Let's look, pre-free agency, at how it stacks up against all 30 defensive teams in the NHL.

Note: all depth charts and the like come from rotoworld.com. If they are wrong, I apologize - but I'm doing player-to-player comparison here.


Cam Fowler
Credit: Perry Nelson - USA Today Sports

Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks' defensive depth chart, pitted against the Flames', looks like this:

FOWLER < GIORDANO
VATANEN < HAMILTON
BEAUCHEMIN < BRODIE
LINDHOLM > RUSSELL
DESPRES < WIDEMAN
STONER < ENGELLAND
HOLZER < SMID

It's pretty clear here who wins from the start. Cam Fowler is a very promising defenseman, but he doesn't stand a chance against Norris candidate Giordano. Same with Vatanen - Dougie Hamilton is an elite defenseman. Beauchemin is older and slower than he used to be, and Brodie is young and has a step on him. Hampus Lindholm wins against Kris Russell, but Wideman takes Despres, Engelland edges Stoner, and Smid beats Holzer.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Credit: Matt Kartozian - USA Today Sports

Arizona Coyotes 

The Anaheim Ducks' defensive depth chart, pitted against the Flames', looks like this:

EKMAN-LARSSON < GIORDANO
STONE < HAMILTON
GROSSMANN < BRODIE
MURPHY < RUSSELL
MOORE < WIDEMAN
CAMPBELL < ENGELLAND
DAHLBECK < SMID

Again, it's pretty clear here who wins from the start. Ekman-Larsson is, again a very promising defenseman, and I wasn't sure where to put him against Gio. I give a slight edge to Giordano, but I put the "equal to or better" sign - OEL is that good. However, the rest of the defense, like most of the rest of the team, is essentially an AHL lineup (the tank is on!) and the Flames, I believe, sweep this one.

Zdeno Chara
Credit: Winslow Townson - USA Today Sports


Boston Bruins 

CHARA < GIORDANO
KRUG < HAMILTON
SEIDENBERG < BRODIE
McQUAID < RUSSELL
BARTKOWSKI < WIDEMAN
MILLER < ENGELLAND
MORROW < SMID

Because Dougie Hamilton is now a Flame, Calgary sweeps this one. Two or three years ago, Chara beats Giordano easily, but he's 38 and slower than he used to be. He can still shoot a puck really hard, but he's not at his old all-star level. Hamilton was higher on the depth chart than Krug before he left so he wins that one. T.J. Brodie is far better than Dennis Seidenberg, as is Russell than McQuaid. Bartkowski, a defensive defenseman, has yet to match Dennis Wideman's offensive ability or experience, and Deryk Engelland is just better than Kevan Miller. Now, at the current moment, Smid is better than Morrow. This probably will change once Morrow plays regular minutes with Boston - but I like the kid, even if he isn't Tyler Seguin.

Zach Bogosian
Credit: Kevin Hoffman - USA Today Sports


Buffalo Sabres 

BOGOSIAN < GIORDANO
RISTOLAINEN < HAMILTON
GORGES < BRODIE
WEBER < RUSSELL
BENOIT < WIDEMAN
MESZAROS > ENGELLAND
STRACHAN < SMID

On a still rebuilding Buffalo team, I only feel that Andrej Meszaros is better than his counterpart (Engelland) - Bogosian is a good puck-mover and still young and still developing, same with Ristolainen, but they just aren't there yet.

Justin Faulk
Credit: James Guillory - USA Today Sports


Carolina Hurricanes 

FAULK < GIORDANO
MURPHY < HAMILTON
HAINSEY < BRODIE
WISNIEWSKI < RUSSELL
HILLEN < WIDEMAN
JORDAN < ENGELLAND
LILES < SMID

James Wisniewski is very close to beating Kris Russell here, but other than that, it's a sweep all the way down in this sweep.

Duncan Keith
Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki - USA Today Sports


Chicago Blackhawks 

KEITH > GIORDANO
SEABROOK > HAMILTON
HJALMARSSON < BRODIE
ODUYA > RUSSELL
ROSZIVAL < WIDEMAN
RUNDBLAD < ENGELLAND
VAN RIEMSDYK > SMID

Now we have some competition!

Duncan Keith is far better than Mark Giordano. His performance in the playoffs was stunning, as was Seabrook's, and they both beat their counterparts. Although Brodie beats Hjalmarsson, Oduya downs Russell, and TVR beats out Ladislav Smid. Hawkswin!

Yes. The Hawkswin.

Tyson Barrie
Credit: Robert Mayer - USA Today Sports


Colorado Avalanche 

BARRIE < GIORDANO
JOHNSON < HAMILTON
HEJDA < BRODIE
HOLDEN < RUSSELL
ZADOROV > WIDEMAN
STUART < ENGELLAND
GUENIN < SMID

On the Avs' D, the only guy I put ahead of a Flame is Nikita Zadorov, the big, hulking Russian who's already impressed in one year with the Sabres. At age 19. On last year's Sabres.

Other than that, the Flames come away pretty handily.

Jack Johnson
Credit: Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports


Columbus Blue Jackets 

JOHNSON < GIORDANO
TYUTIN < HAMILTON
MURRAY < BRODIE
SAVARD < RUSSELL
CONNAUTON < WIDEMAN
PROUT < ENGELLAND
FALK < SMID

Sweep! Jack Johnson is no match for Giordano, Hamilton is far better than Fedor Tyutin, Brodie and Murray are closer but still apart, Russell and David Savard are even more similar but still apart, and so on and so forth.

John Klingberg
Credit: Marc DesRosiers - USA Today Sports


Dallas Stars 

KLINGBERG < GIORDANO
GOLIGOSKI < HAMILTON
DALEY < BRODIE
DEMERS < RUSSELL
BENN < WIDEMAN
JOKIPAKKA < ENGELLAND
NEMETH < SMID

Like OEL, John Klingberg is very close to Mark Giordano's skill. He should have been nominated for the Calder last year and was dominant on Dallas' back-end. Other than that, it's no contest - Calgary's defense is just too good.

Yeah, I know, except for Chicago, that wasn't close, but in tomorrow's part 2, there'll be defenders such as Subban, Doughty, McDonagh, Weber, Suter, Ekblad, and maybe even a certain Norris winner named Karlsson around. Come back tomorrow to see part 2 of where the Flames stack up against the NHL with their D!


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