Editorials

NHL Central Division: Team Defense Comparison For 2016-17

By Colin Likas
Jan 16, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates the puck across the blue line during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 16, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates the puck across the blue line during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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chicago blackhawks
Nov 25, 2013; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) and Brent Seabrook (7) celebrate with Jonathan Toews (19) after his first period goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

The NHL’s Central Division saw some of its teams try to improve defensively this offseason

The battle among NHL fans over which team has the best overall defense is something that can never be solved or quelled. Everybody has an opinion on what constitutes good defense, how much value you should put into offensive defensemen and the like.

Thankfully, I’m here to sort this out for the NHL’s Central Division teams. And I’m always right, so there’s no way my conclusions can be shot down. (Please shoot down my conclusions in the comments section.)

We know our Chicago Blackhawks made a concerted effort this offseason to improve the defense, while the Nashville Predators made a major splash on the blue line. Other teams re-signed young players in hopes of keeping the back end strong now and in the future.

Where does this leave the seven teams ranked heading into the 2016-17 season? I offer my estimations.

central division
Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) looks to pass the puck in the second period against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center. The Blues defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 7: Colorado Avalanche

There’s just not a whole lot to be happy about in Colorado pertaining to the defense. And in front of a goaltender who goes from All-Star caliber (mostly against Chicago) to hot garbage (mostly against anyone else), that’s a bad setup.

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Tyson Barrie and Francois Beauchemin are the best of this bunch. Barrie is offensively solid, though his possession numbers have been trash the last two seasons. Beauchemin can also provide some scoring, but his puck-holding numbers suffered heavily from a lot of defensive-zone starts last season.

Erik Johnson is still the guy who was taken before Jonathan Toews in the 2006 draft, and he has a hard time staying healthy or consistently producing at either end of the ice.

Nikita Zadorov is young but already on his second NHL team. Patrick Wiercioch is far from the answer to Colorado’s blue line problems, as he’s just a glorified bruiser. And Fedor Tyutin was a guy you could bury in Columbus’ third pairing for years on end.

That’s just not a great that’s going to do a lot for you, nor is it one that will be able to keep up with its forwards’ collective speed. It’ll limit some of the offensive push from the group, then get it in trouble when play turns the other way.

Next: Number 6

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