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Defense 2020-21


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Seems simple.  Same starting 6 with Irwin as 7 with Pilut moving on.  However it shouldn't be.  RK played Montour out of position last season and it didn't work.  RK also benched Miller often.  We also have 5 RD's on the roster.  That means one RHD is going to play LHD again.  Also where does Joker play?  Does he move over to the left side to help balance the lines or does he earn top pair honors with Dahlin?  On paper our best in zone D are McCabe, Jokiharju and Montour.  Our most physical D are Risto and then McCabe and Miller

My first pencil to paper pairings looked like this

Dahlin Montour

McCabe Risto

Jokiharju Miller (or swapped)

Bryson Irwin

 

My second grouping

Dahlin Risto

Jokiharju Montour

McCabe Miller

Bryson Irwin

Honestly I don't love either lineup.  I dont want Jokiharju on the bottom pair or out of position, nor do I want Montour out of position like last season.  On talent our top 4 D are Dahlin, Risto, Montour and Jokiharju so I tried to work them in together in the second grouping.  

It will be interesting to see how RK pairs the guys come camp.

 

 

 

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Irwin is, barring another D move, most likely the 3LD.

Montour and Dahlin showed sparks of chemistry, so would expect them to start as a pair as well.  Which leaves:

Dahlin Montour

McCabe Ristolainen

Irwin Jokiharju

with one of the Ra-cha-cha guys & Miller the 7 & 8.

 

Not personally a fan of that, but barring a move, that's probably what we get.

And could very well see Risto McCabe as the "top" 5v5 pairing by ice time.

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23 minutes ago, inkman said:

I need Borgen in this line up. 

He basically needs to beat out Irwin for the #7 spot.

He's handicapped in that race by handedness, but if he's ready that's a guy he should be able to beat.

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5 minutes ago, dudacek said:

He basically needs to beat out Irwin for the #7 spot.

He's handicapped in that race by handedness, but if he's ready that's a guy he should be able to beat.

He's turning 24 in a couple of days.  If he ain't ready now he never will be.

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Why was Brandon Montour a failure?

His charts weren't great, but they are typical of a high-use defencemen on a bad team. His +13 was the best number recorded by the Sabres in a decade; no one else is close. He scored a pro-rated 8 goals and 27 points, and was 2nd on the team in minutes played, without significant PP time. And he played against relatively tough competition.

Those aren't the numbers of a weak link, let alone the disposable player some think he is.

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35 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Why was Brandon Montour a failure?

His charts weren't great, but they are typical of a high-use defencemen on a bad team. His +13 was the best number recorded by the Sabres in a decade; no one else is close. He scored a pro-rated 8 goals and 27 points, and was 2nd on the team in minutes played, without significant PP time. And he played against relatively tough competition.

Those aren't the numbers of a weak link, let alone the disposable player some think he is.

Thank you very much, Dudacek.

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1 hour ago, dudacek said:

Why was Brandon Montour a failure?

His charts weren't great, but they are typical of a high-use defencemen on a bad team. His +13 was the best number recorded by the Sabres in a decade; no one else is close. He scored a pro-rated 8 goals and 27 points, and was 2nd on the team in minutes played, without significant PP time. And he played against relatively tough competition.

Those aren't the numbers of a weak link, let alone the disposable player some think he is.

Fancy stats say one thing...he still flunks my eye test.  I will watch him closely in 2021, as it is clear now that he isn't going to be moved.

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1 hour ago, LabattBlue said:

Fancy stats say one thing...he still flunks my eye test.  I will watch him closely in 2021, as it is clear now that he isn't going to be moved.

I get that he has a style that doesn't sit well with some meat-and-potatoes types, but most of the hate he gets seems to come from the fancystats types.

He was one of those guys whose fancystats were good when Anaheim was good, then dipped as the team around him dipped. One example I've seen of how good fancystats don't necessarily follow players around.

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5 hours ago, Taro T said:

Irwin is, barring another D move, most likely the 3LD.

Montour and Dahlin showed sparks of chemistry, so would expect them to start as a pair as well.  Which leaves:

Dahlin Montour

McCabe Ristolainen

Irwin Jokiharju

with one of the Ra-cha-cha guys & Miller the 7 & 8.

 

Not personally a fan of that, but barring a move, that's probably what we get.

And could very well see Risto McCabe as the "top" 5v5 pairing by ice time.

Oh god lol please, no. Don't torch the season before it starts. 

I'd be ok with the pairings you listed but, Jokiharju is probably our best RHD (and I'm not a Jokiharju apologist) so I'd have him with Dahlin. 

I'm fairly surprised they did nothing for the D or goaltending. 

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7 hours ago, dudacek said:

Why was Brandon Montour a failure?

His charts weren't great, but they are typical of a high-use defencemen on a bad team. His +13 was the best number recorded by the Sabres in a decade; no one else is close. He scored a pro-rated 8 goals and 27 points, and was 2nd on the team in minutes played, without significant PP time. And he played against relatively tough competition.

Those aren't the numbers of a weak link, let alone the disposable player some think he is.

Such a low bar. So that boils down to, we played him a lot, and he had OK production, and his analytics were pretty bad. Plus minus is a stat I like to avoid.  

To me, he's average. He's not "disposable", he's just replaceable. The only extra value he carries is because of how inept we've been at assembling real talent. 

Edited by Thorny
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1 hour ago, Thorny said:

Oh god lol please, no. Don't torch the season before it starts. 

I'd be ok with the pairings you listed but, Jokiharju is probably our best RHD (and I'm not a Jokiharju apologist) so I'd have him with Dahlin. 

I'm fairly surprised they did nothing for the D or goaltending. 

Still not convinced that Adams will not make 1-2 more moves once we know when stuff will be opening back up & the last remaining unsigned players start finding homes and the teams at/above the cap start making the moves they HAVE to make.

The D & GT definitely aren't ideal, but 1 single move at each player grouping can completely alter how they look.

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4 hours ago, Thorny said:

Such a low bar. So that boils down to, we played him a lot, and he had OK production, and his analytics were pretty bad. Plus minus is a stat I like to avoid.  

To me, he's average. He's not "disposable", he's just replaceable. The only extra value he carries is because of how inept we've been at assembling real talent. 

Sure, if average means a capable middle-pairing.

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12 hours ago, inkman said:

I need Borgen in this line up. 

I want that too. 

We have a lot of guys who, although they play different styles, are all mid, average, or inconsistent so I'm not entirely sure how you shuffle the deck with Miller, Montour, McCabe (a lot of M's in there).

Maybe, if Dahlin is going to get more minutes you pair him with Risto, but then you drop off heavily after that so maybe Joker and Dahlin and let the young guys grow together? 

I dunno, but I want some size and potential physicality to balance things and at this moment Borgen is the best hope. 

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8 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

I want that too. 

We have a lot of guys who, although they play different styles, are all mid, average, or inconsistent so I'm not entirely sure how you shuffle the deck with Miller, Montour, McCabe (a lot of M's in there).

Maybe, if Dahlin is going to get more minutes you pair him with Risto, but then you drop off heavily after that so maybe Joker and Dahlin and let the young guys grow together? 

I dunno, but I want some size and potential physicality to balance things and at this moment Borgen is the best hope. 

Really hoping that any time Dahlin & Ristolainen are on the ice together is typically an artifact of them getting 2-3 minutes more ice time than their partners and it's simply due to overlap at shift change.

Pretty sure there's analytics out there showing they are bad together.  The eye test says it.  Do not want to see them out together as their play seems to complement the other one's weaknesses.  Maybe another year older Dahlin can even play with Risto now, but wouldn't put any money on it.

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On defense, next season (once again) hinges on Risto. Whatever the 20-21 season looks like, it'll be Risto's 8th in the league. He hasn't made exponential improvements in his own zone or in his overall game . He's still an offensive-minded defenseman who occasionally agitates and elevates himself against top-flight players, although his elevation doesn't really change their stats against us. (Meaning Ovechkin, which others folks have crunched all the numbers.)

Because of the financial situations league-wide, I don't think Risto gets moved via trade.

So -- Risto was much better this past season vs. previous years. He went down to just 22 minutes/game and finished a -2 instead of his typical negative double digits. He wandered less in the D zone. He looked OK. But again, he's 8 years in. He's no longer a young defenseman given up on too soon. He's now a minimum $4.5M/year player on his next COVID-impacted contract as a 2nd pair and 2nd PP unit guy who remains a liability in his own zone. He's not the reliable top-pair 2-way D we wanted him to become when drafted. So this is the conundrum: Does this shortened season lead us to protect and extend Risto or not? If not... then protect Dahlin and Joker and... I guess Borgen. And if Seattle wants UFAs in Montour or McCabe, so be it. But I wager no UFA is signing for a ton of cash next year. Otherwise, Seattle can take Miller or Ristolainen for a single season if they want to take the salary.

Our D this season will benefit greatly from Hall and Staal. It's a solid set of NHL-caliber D guys that will look just fine with the improved forwards and middle-of-the-pack goaltending. But overall Risto's skills are duplicated by Miller (they're 2/3 pairing, 2nd PP guys who plays physical but aren't capable of shutting the opposition down).

I see 2020 (whatever it is):   Dahlin - Joker | Montour - Miller | McCabe - Ristolainen (Irwin, Borgen).

And then 2021-22:   Dahlin - Joker | Montour - either Miller/Risto | TBD - Borgen

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16 hours ago, Taro T said:

Really hoping that any time Dahlin & Ristolainen are on the ice together is typically an artifact of them getting 2-3 minutes more ice time than their partners and it's simply due to overlap at shift change.

Pretty sure there's analytics out there showing they are bad together.  The eye test says it.  Do not want to see them out together as their play seems to complement the other one's weaknesses.  Maybe another year older Dahlin can even play with Risto now, but wouldn't put any money on it.

Well it's hard to say but I'm also hoping that we only saw the beginning of Risto's shift back to a stable D man last year under Kreuger and if you do this pairing you keep coaching and defining his role as the snarly defender of the pair and not the guy trying to score goals, let Dahlin do that. If they're both going to run around all over the place you're absolutely right, it won't work.

Whatever the pairings end up being, I hope they are stable pairings and the 2 guys in each pair can learn to play with each other properly as a pair and not 2 individuals. All the best D pairings in the league are the same 2 guys and they develop chemistry like forwards do. Kreuger was better with this than Housley, but with the extra D bodies we still juggled too much. Set the pairings and keep them.

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Considering we added a versatile Irwin (for #7) and Borgen can maybe step up, I would love to package a RHD for better goalie.  
 

Don’t see it happening.  I don’t think the group is terrible, especially if Dahlin takes that big stride and Joker continues to progress.  

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I fully expect either Montour or Miller to be moved for a pick and a pick or cheap young player to be moved for a Coyote goalie.

Effectively, we will trade an RHD for a goalie as soon as the season is announced and teams start making moves to accommodate their economic and cap realities.

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39 minutes ago, dudacek said:

I fully expect either Montour or Miller to be moved for a pick and a pick or cheap young player to be moved for a Coyote goalie.

Effectively, we will trade an RHD for a goalie as soon as the season is announced and teams start making moves to accommodate their economic and cap realities.

What goalie would be targeted?  How big of an upgrading are we talking?  What do we do with Hutton?

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1 hour ago, Derrico said:

What goalie would be targeted?  How big of an upgrading are we talking?  What do we do with Hutton?

Don’t know.  People here talk about Az having some goalie excess.  Since I didn’t expect to sign a guy like Staal, and never dreamed of Hall, its hard to say what Adams is willing to do.  
 

Hutton can be moved hopefully.  Not saying that is easy to do either.  
 

If there is a season it will be a season that we want to win right now.  We did not make the moves we did to continue this ridiculously slow rebuild.   We have Eichel and Dahlin, now it’s time to stop sucking.  

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