Eastern Edge: Evaluating Defencemen in Smith and Weegar

Brennan Des

2021-09-21

In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll discuss Ty Smith and Mackenzie Weegar – defensemen that may be slightly overvalued in this year's fantasy drafts. 

Ty Smith

The 21-year-old defenseman finished his rookie campaign with solid numbers, posting 23 points in 48 appearances. His output was bolstered by a hot start that saw him register eight points in his first nine games, leaving him with a less impressive 15 points in his final 39 outings. Of Smith's 23 total points last year, seven came with the man advantage. He held a prominent role on the power play, averaging about two and a half minutes of PP time per game. Among New Jersey's defensemen last season, Smith displayed the most competence with the man advantage and ultimately emerged as the team's top power-play blueliner. However, following the team's acquisition of Dougie Hamilton, things look a little more complicated this year.

In today's NHL, most teams roll with one defenseman and four forwards on the power play. At present, Hamilton is a better option with the man advantage than Ty Smith. Therefore, if the Devils choose to go with one defenseman and four forwards on the top unit, Hamilton would be that one defenseman. With that being said, New Jersey's first and second power-play units saw a relatively even share of ice time last season – around a 60/40 split. As such, it's not crazy to think that Smith would still see a significant role on the power play this year, even if he's relegated to the second unit. However, if that turns out to be the case, New Jersey's most offensively gifted forwards would still be on the top unit. So even if Smith is seeing around two minutes of power-play time while playing on the second unit, he'd have a harder time putting up points. There's a world where New Jersey tries to spread out their talent evenly across two units, but even in that scenario, Jack Hughes – the team's most offensively gifted forward – is essentially guaranteed to play on the top unit with Hamilton. Another possibility sees New Jersey take the unconventional route with three forwards and two defensemen on the power play – which would allow Smith to stay on the top unit with Hamilton. However, I think would still hurt Smith's fantasy value because most of the offense would flow through Hamilton, leaving Smith with a smaller piece of the pie. There are so many different ways this could play out, but I think the most likely scenarios see Hamilton eating into Smith's p