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11-24-2011, 11:56 PM
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Some notes on the defensive comparisons:

- Yes, I think Bowman is better, as he's actually my favourite defenseman in this draft. However, Dewsbury is in my top-10 so it's not a huge edge.

- Don Sweeney is actually not used to logging a lot of minutes. In 1995 and 1996 he topped 23 minutes but was a 18-22 minute guy every other year from 1991-2002. In all, he averaged about 19.50 minutes per game in his career. Most often, he was his team's #4 D-man. He's a definite first pairing question mark, like Makarov.

- Re: Fowler and Mironov. Fowler didn't just get "some" AST votes, he finished 6th. That is pretty damn significant at this level. Boris, however, was a top-15 guy for 2-3 years so he does have the three year peak to match Fowler's career and then a number of other decent seasons as a contributing (though inconsistent) NHL defenseman.

- Correction: Paladiev wasn't strong enough to handle superstar NHL players like Phil Esposito. He is just fine playing on a second unit in the AAA draft when the biggest beasts he'll see are the likes of Marco Sturm, Jeff O'Neill, and Mark Osborne, and only on some shifts, and only in some games. Big difference between this and 8 straight games where the worst forward you would oppose would be maybe Bill Goldsworthy.

Paladiev's biggest claim to fame is his one Soviet 1st AST selection, which is a claim to being, at one moment, considered a top-10 defenseman in the world or so. Snepsts made two all-star game, which might be decent indications he was top-15 at those times, except for back then someone from each team had to make the ASG, and in both cases Snepsts was not even the defenseman his own coach was putting on the ice the most (although those were both 23+ minute seasons for him, and he ranked 3rd and 2nd on his own team). It is reasonable to guess he was a top-25 D-man both years. Snepsts was often 1st or 2nd on his (often terrible) teams in ES TOI and I do respect that. This is a comparison of two defensive specialists that is pretty impossible to call.

I will say this. In 1970, Paladiev was voted to the 1st AST in the USSR, ahead of Ragulin, Lutchenko and Kuzkin. Can Snepsts claim to have ever been as highly regarded as players of this caliber?

- About Wiebe. Yes he has some "impressive GP numbers" but it is not the numbers themselves, it is what they mean. I am not sure his single all-star vote three times is all that meaningfull other than demonstrating he was not a mediocre/fringe player. But throughout his career, there were 27-41 NHL defensemen and it has never been suggested that there were many NHL-caliber players elsewhere in these years (europe, alternate NA league) so if Wiebe was around average for an NHL player for these 8 years, we're looking at 8 years of being the 12th-25th-best defenseman in the world (remember, he was never sent to the minors either). Fast forward sixty years and try to compare his legacy to that of Dmitri, the lesser of the Mironov brothers. The talent pool got about 3X bigger just as Mironov hit the NHL scene. Does he have 8 years of being the 36th-75th-best defenseman in the NHL? Or in rough terms, an average #2 or #3 guy? Here's where he ranked on his teams in total ice time:

6, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1, 5, 5, 7

this is a tough one. Because when he ranked "6, 6, 4" this was in Toronto, when they had a very balanced, well-respected D-corps. (imagine that!) I wouldn't try to say he was only in the 150 range in the NHL because he was 6th on the Leafs. Then in Anaheim when he was "1, 1" they had a brutal D-corps and I would never say it made him a top-26 guy. As a Capital he was 5th twice, then 7th, but again, this was a highly regarded D-corps that pushed him further down than he'd be on an average team.

It's all speculation at this point, but if Mironov was on average defensive units his whole career his ice time ranks above probably would have looked more like: 4, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5.

So does Mironov have an 8-year track record of being a #2-3 guy? I'd say he has almost exactly that. My biased side would point out that he's short two years; my forgiving side would say those two 4ths are "close enough".

With all the assumptions it took to get to this point the margin of error got multiplied along the way. I had fun. I hope it made some sense.

- Hardy and Popiel. Not an easy one. But at first glance I see a definite edge in Hardy's favour.

Popiel played in the NHL at the age of 25-28. During this time this is what he did:

1969: #4 defenseman of a .513 team, also spent 13 games in the minors
1970: #6 defenseman of a .635 team, also spent 22 games in the minors
1971: #5 defenseman of a .359 team
1972: #7 defenseman of a .308 team, also spent 12 games in the minors

But then, just 3 and 5 years later, at the ages of 31 and 33, Popiel is a 2nd all-star team member in the WHA, making him the 3rd-4th best defenseman in the league. What happened? Did he suddenly get exponentially better? Or did he go to a league with room for a player of his caliber? To be fair, it wasn't just one or the other, but there was a lot of the latter involved. Popiel is exhibit A in why we should question WHA defensemen beyond Stapleton, Tremblay, Shmyr & Ley and a perfect reason to question how close to the NHL the WHA was.

What does being the 3rd-4th best WHA defenseman in 1975 and 1977 mean? Optimistically you might like to say that was potentially 15th-best in the world if you imagine all the players from the NHL, WHA and Europe got put together. Pessimistically, it could be a lot worse than that. This guy couldn't be an important piece of a decent team just a few years before; the best parallel might be a guy like Stephane Robidas, who suddenly became a "bad team #1" for the last three seasons after being a career #4-5 guy. There's a lot of guesswork here.

There is no guesswork involved with Mark Hardy. Just to remind you, he was a #1 defenseman in the 1980s NHL six straight years. No, not for a good team, mind you. But Hardy's NHL coaches had Larry Murphy and Brian Engblom (former 2nd AST member) at their disposal for five of those six years and played Hardy more than both of them. Larry Murphy! In fact, three times Hardy was one of the 13 most-used defensemen in the NHL.

Hardy did not get any all-star votes, nor should he have. No one should have thought he was a top-3 defenseman in the league, either. When you consider the TOI, who he was competing with for that ice time, and the quotes, It's not a stretch to suggest that for these six years Hardy was the 15th-30th best defenseman in the NHL. Popiel does not have a track record like this. If he could have been even a decent NHL player then it wouldn't be such a stretch to be more liberal in assigning value to what those WHA 2nd all-star teams mean.

You say Popiel has the peak but I think Hardy has both the peak and the longevity.

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