The NHL’s 2023-24 common season is nearly upon us, and simply in time, THN.com was in a position to get in a single pre-season story, one which ranks the depth of the of NHL staff rosters.
On Wednesday, we analyzed the NHL’s prime 5 groups when it comes to their top-six ahead teams. Thursday, we labelled the 5 groups with the weakest top-six ahead teams.
Friday, we rated the 5 greatest protection corps within the NHL, and as we speak, we’re wrapping up this theme with the 5 weakest at this time limit.
In reverse order, listed below are this author’s decisions for the 5 groups with the worst teams of blueliners.
5. Montreal Canadiens
Prime six defensemen: Michael Matheson, David Savard, Kaiden Guhle, Johnathan Kovacevic, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj
We had been contemplating different groups at this No. 5 place – the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Geese are also comparatively skinny on protection. In the end, we selected the Canadiens as a result of there’s no actual star there, a minimum of not but. Veterans Matheson and Savard are succesful arms, however they’re hardly elite. And whereas children Guhle, Harris and Xhekaj have promise, we haven’t seen sufficient from them but to earn them a popularity as one of many league’s higher protection corps.
Maybe teen David Reinbacher emerges because the Habs’ greatest blueliner. However that day has but to reach, and till additional discover, we must be tempering expectations for Montreal’s protection corps. The highway forward for them is bumpy, however administration appears to be like ready to construct over the lengthy haul, so it’s not all unhealthy information, under no circumstances.
4. Chicago Blackhawks
Prime six defensemen: Seth Jones, Connor Murphy, Kevin Korchinski, Wyatt Kaiser, Nikita Zaitsev, Alex Vlasic
Whereas their No. 1 defenseman, 29-year-old Jones, is their most important part on ‘D,’ the Blackhawks have subsequent to no defensive excellence. Murphy is a footsoldier, Korchinski and Kaiser nonetheless must show themselves as above-average defenders, and Zaitsev is a non-factor taking part in out the final yr of his contract. There aren’t practically sufficient high-impact D-men in Chicago, and so they’re going to be in the identical scenario for fairly a while.
Maybe the Blackhawks polish a prime defenseman from present inside stockpiles, and so they get a big-time blueliner within the combine for the following decade-and-a-half. Since you don’t get elite defensemen except you stink within the league and acquire one of the best odds of drafting first general, or except you get a star on the lookout for a change of employer, you’re not often going to get one by way of trades and free company. That is why constructing by way of the draft is so essential.
The Hawks know extra ache is forward, however it doubtless might be most acute in relation to their protection corps.
3. Arizona Coyotes
Prime six defensemen: J.J. Moser, Matt Dumba, Sean Durzi, Juuso Valimaki, Troy Stecher, Josh Brown
Are the Coyotes a greater defensive group this season than they had been in 2022-23? Sure, that’s secure to say – actually, it’s not a badge of honor and extra of a touch upon their ongoing roster rebuild and the place they had been final season.
Children Moser and Valimaki and new acquisitions Dumba and Durzi do add some depth, however the backside two D-men aren’t difference-makers within the slightest. And a few of them could possibly be traded by the commerce deadline. This very a lot stays a piece in progress.
Arizona is starting to see legitimately top-flight expertise emerge at ahead, however on the again finish, they’ve bought a protracted strategy to go earlier than they’re considered a real menace to win extra video games than they lose.
2. Philadelphia Flyers
Prime six defensemen: Travis Sanheim, Marc Staal, Rasmus Ristolainen, Cam York, Nick Seeler, Sean Walker
The Flyers dealt away two veterans this summer time – D-men Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo. Although they introduced in Staal and Walker to assist soften the blow, the truth is the highest six are removed from elite. The highest-six mixed for simply 105 factors final season, and so they’re not a bunch not recognized for its shutdown skills.
Seeler and Walker each averaged lower than quarter-hour per recreation in 2022-23, and regardless of the capabilities of Sanheim and York, the Flyers simply don’t have the horses to be thought of even a median protection corps. GM Daniel Briere additionally ought to get credit score for going the full-rebuild route, however the ugly underbelly of that technique means robust instances should be endured. These robust instances ought to final, on the very least, by way of this season.
1. San Jose Sharks
Prime six defensemen: Mario Ferraro, Matt Benning, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kyle Burroughs, Jan Rutta, Jacob MacDonald
The Geese would’ve made this record even when they’d retained the companies of Erik Karlsson, however with out him? Eeek and yeesh and goodness me.
San Jose’s goaltending tandem of Kaapo Kahkonen has its work reduce out, and though Sharks followers are doubtless in for a depressing season, they will take some consolation figuring out GM Mike Grier is taking the most secure path to long-term success. It’s simply not going to be right here for fairly a while.
To wit: just one Sharks D-man – the 25-year-old Ferraro – averaged greater than 19:47 of ice time final season, and three of their blueliners averaged 17:28 or much less final yr. The cabinet is naked on their again finish, and there’s not going to be a savior on ‘D’ to hold them into the post-season, or actually, anyplace near it. They’re well-advised to concentrate on the long run, as a result of the quick time period goes to be the pits.
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