Frozen Tool Forensics: Sorting through defensive prospects



Last week we took a look at prospect forwards that had some NHL experience in 2019-20. This week we are going to extend that series a bit. Prospects certainly aren't my area of expertise (go to Dobber Prospects for that), but there are some really interesting options in Frozen Tools that help us take a look at what is happening in the league.

This week on Frozen Tools Forensics: Defensive Prospects.

The Top 50 D Prospects report pulls 50 defensive prospects but, like the forward prospect report has some really interesting features. If we run that report, we get to see the top-ranked prospects who have some NHL experience under their belt. This is great because while I don't know much about translating prospect performance, I can take a look at how they have performed in the NHL to date.

We can sort that report as is by rank, and still use categories like prospect upside, NHL certainty etc.. If we export the data for a bit of further organizing, we can take a look at the abbreviated table below.


Top 50 Rank Name Pos Team Upside GP G A PTS PPP SOG TOI PPTOI
1 ADAM BOQVIST D CHI 8.5 41 4 9 13 2 50 16:13 2:10
2 NOAH DOBSON D NYI 7.8 34 1 6 7 1 37 13:17 0:54
3 ERIK BRANNSTROM D OTT 8.7 31 0 4 4 1 38 14:51 1:29
6 RASMUS SANDIN D TOR 7.5 28 1 7 8 2 22 14:19 0:44
9 DANTE FABBRO D NSH 7 64 5 6 11 1 92 19:02 0:21
10 DENNIS CHOLOWSKI D DET 7.5 36 2 6 8 5 51 19:13 2:40


This shows the top six ranked defensemen (or all those who made it into the top ten ranks for prospects). All of them saw pretty reasonable games played over the course of the season and a couple saw quite a bit of time on ice for a rookie defenseman. Like with the forwards we are going to further sort by games and then select a few players and take a dive into and examine how they were used throughout the season. First though a quick look at our top five D Prospects as listed by Upside.


Top 50 Rank Name Pos Team Upside


We won't necessarily hit each of these players later, but they are definitely guys to keep your eyes on over the next few seasons. Check out Dobber Prospects for their full profile.

For the main show today, I wanted to take the top 50 list and sort by games played. We can see from the table below that there were a fair few players that had solid games played numbers. From there we will focus on a few players and see what we can make of their first NHL season.


Top 50 Rank Name Pos Team Upside GP G A PTS PPP SOG TOI PPTOI
9 DANTE FABBRO D NSH 7 64 5 6 11 1 92 19:02 0:21
38 MARIO FERRARO D S.J 6.5 61 2 9 11 0 63 15:53 0:19
37 PHILIPPE MYERS D PHI 6.2 50 4 12 16 0 78 17:06 0:09
14 OLIVER KYLINGTON D CGY 8 48 2 5 7 0 37 13:42 0:02
43 CALEB JONES D EDM 6.3 43 4 5 9 1 38 14:08 0:06
1 ADAM BOQVIST D CHI 8.5 41 4 9 13 2 50 16:13 2:10
30 NICOLAS HAGUE D VGK 7.5 38 1 10 11 4 54 16:05 0:55
10 DENNIS CHOLOWSKI D DET 7.5 36 2 6 8 5 51 19:13 2:40
2 NOAH DOBSON D NYI 7.8 34 1 6 7 1 37 13:17 0:54
3 ERIK BRANNSTROM D OTT 8.7 31 0 4 4 1 38 14:51 1:29
35 BRENDAN GUHLE D ANA 6 30 4 4 8 0 39 17:04 0:06


Dante Fabbro:

Fabbro is our league leader in games played, ranked in the top 10 overall, and tied for 12th in upside. Fabbro put up 11 points in his 64 games, which would equate to a 14-point pace over a full season. Fabbro also saw four games of action in 2018-19.

Clearly it was not an incredible offensive showing, but Fabbro is a leader in this pack in total time on ice. He clearly was relied on more than most of the other defensemen on this list and averaging over 19 minutes of icetime a night is no small feat for a rookie. In particular, during the second quarter he was up over 19.5 minutes a night. He spent most of his time with Mattias Ekholm on the second unit and that is a pretty solid place to be. He is going to have a hard time dislodging Ryan Ellis or Roman Josi from the top pairing, but solid second pairing minutes are definitely a good start. In addition, he had good block rates for a rookie defensemen, and put up a few hits as well.


Dennis Cholowski:

Cholowski is worth diving into not because of his massive games played numbers, or his projected upside, but because of his usage in his first year. He tops the list with the highest average time on ice, and the highest amount of average power-play time.

Cholowski already had a partial year under his belt coming into 19-20 with 54 games to his name in 18-19. He clearly had some confidence from the coaching staff as he started the season getting between 16 and 20 minutes a night and about 19 on average over the first quarter. That number rose in November to an average of almost 21 minutes a night in the second and third quarters. Unfortunately, he only played four games in the third quarter and three in the fourth. He spent most of his time with either Mike Green or Filip Hronek. In either case it meant he was being put in offensive positions.

Cholowski's big claim to fame was making a huge wave in the beginning of the year when he was given the reins to Detroit's top power-play. He had some minimal success there with four power-play points in his first 15 games. Unfortunately, he was not clicking quite well enough and Hronek ended the season getting a chance to strut his stuff on the power-play. He also lost out on a fair number of games played in the second half of the season so something wasn't working out for him.

At the end of the day, Detroit's blue line is certainly porous enough for Cholowski to keep getting minutes and a chance to produce, he is just going to have to step up and do it.


Adam Boqvist:

Boqvist is the top ranked prospect on this list. He played a full half-season (41 games) with the Blackhawks and saw the second highest average power-play time. If we look at straight averages, he looks a lot like Cholowski, but the trajectory is the opposite. He didn't start in the NHL until November seeing only 14.5 minutes of total time on ice with about a minute and a half on the power-play. By the time the second quarter rolled around he was up around 2.5 minutes of power-play time and increasing his total time on ice as well, cresting at 17.5 minutes on average in quarter three.

The big increase came because, like Cholowksi, Boqvist was given the top power-play. The elite talent in Chicago made this a mouth-watering prospect. Unfortunately, and even though he was given a fairly extended look, Boqvist did not put up points on that power-play. His two power-play points over the course of the season can attest to that. In the end he lost out his opportunity when Duncan Keith took the role over again.

At even strength, Boqvist spent most of his time with Keith, which could mean one of two things. Either the coaching staff view him as an offensive guy and want him in similar places as Keith or are interested in the verteran presence with the new guy. Whatever the reason, the experience is good.

Going forward Chicago's D core continues to age and Boqvist is primed to step into gap. He should be given ample opportunity to shine, and we can hope with a little age and experience he can produce solid results.


That is all for this week. Thanks for reading.

Stay safe out there.



Want more tool talk? Check out these recent Frozen Tool Forensics Posts.


Frozen Tools Forensics: Top Prospect Watch

Frozen Tools Forensics: Power-Play Opportunities

Frozen Tools Forensics: Useful features on our Frozen Tools


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