Wild West: Team Defense Rankings

Grant Campbell

2022-04-11

We have all seen power rankings for teams that put teams in the order that they should be outside of actual points in the standings. I have my ratings for players that I've developed over the past few years, which give a player a game rating out of 10 based on a variety of stats during the game.

That rating can then give a player a rating for any period, whether a few games, a few months or a season. It can even be used historically for years past to see how players did over their careers. The rating can also be used to see how teams measure up as well in a variety of positions.

I've done the ratings for goalies for teams and skaters for teams before on my own, but this is the first time I've isolated team defence.

For NHL purposes the best defence in the league is Florida (6.504 rating) and the worst defence is in Buffalo (6.318). The league average is 6.403. This number holds for individual defencemen and team ratings. After doing this for a few years, I arbitrarily set the replacement level at around 6.25 for skaters.

As a result, I'm going to list the teams in the West from worst to best and see where they rank in the NHL and focus on some of the defencemen on each team and see how they stack up against each other.

Anaheim Ducks – 30th overall Defence (6.343)

At this moment, Kevin Shattenkirk (6.47) and Cam Fowler (6.45) have been the best Ducks' defenseman this season, with Jamie Drysdale (6.34) next. With Josh Manson (6.35) and Hampus Lindholm (6.45) being traded, the defensive depth is weak.

Drysdale should improve over the next one or two seasons, but you can see the lack of top-end talent that this team has is why they are where they are. They have iced Simon Benoit (6.23), Josh Mahura (6.23) and Andrej Sustr (6.17) for significant portions of this season.

San Jose Sharks – 28th overall (6.362)

There is no surprise that Brent Burns (6.59) and Erik Karlsson (6.52) are the best defenders on the Sharks still, followed by Mario Ferraro (6.40). After these three there is quite a drop-off in the level of play with Nicholas Meloche (6.27), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (6.24), Radim Simek (6.22) and Ryan Merkley (6.17) all at around replacement level.

I'm not sure how many more years the 37-year-old Burns can maintain this level or if Karlsson can duplicate what is somewhat of a comeback season for him.

Arizona Coyotes – 27th overall (6.367)

Jakob Chychrun (6.52) and Shayne Gostisbehere (6.50) anchor the Coyote’s blue line. After those two, there is quite a drop-off on defence as Arizona has given Dysin Mayo (6.37), Cam Dineen (6.34), J.J. Moser (6.31), Vladislav Kolyachonok (6.24) and Kyle Capobianco (6.23) an opportunity this season to grow. Vic