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12-14-2011, 11:21 PM
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Willie Huber, D, who will play on my first pairing. He averaged over 23 minutes a game in his career, a rarity for a player taken as we approach pick #1700. Huber is the second highest scoring defensemen of all-time still available, is the 3rd-most-used special teams defenseman left, and has real experience playing on NHL top pairings (2nd, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 2nd in ES TOI in his five prime years). Do your top pairing defensemen have this experience?

Huber had very imposing size (6'5", 228 lbs in the 1980s) but since he wasn't simultaneously the league's largest player and its most physical, he became a lightning rod for fan criticism. Also, because he didn't fit the stereotype for a big defenseman (the "tower of strength" or "rock of gibraltar") he was not always fully appreciated. Huber was more of an offensive specialist. But he was not so greatly deficient in any area that he should be denied recognition in the AAA or AA draft.

Let's go over some numerical reasons why he's a worthy pick:

He averaged 23.63 minutes played per game. That's awesome for a player who is available this late. Although his +/-, adjusted and raw, is among the worst of all-time, he was a guy who was counted on for big minutes in all situations. It's true that he wasn't a great defensive player at even strength, but he was a massive PK minute muncher: 41%, to be exact. A guy who is that extensively used on the PK can't be as bad defensively as he was sometimes made out to be. Coaches speak the loudest with the minutes they hand out, and he played a ton.

He started as Detroit's #4 in his rookie season but spent the next two season as their #2 guy - Reed Larson's understudy. In 1982 he was the #1, before dropping back below Larson in 1983. In 1984 he was 2nd to Barry Beck in NYR ice time (a 93-point team!). He then spent two years as a #5, including one where he helped them to the conference finals, losing to Roy's Habs. In 1987 he rebounded as a #3, before bouncing around during the 1988 season, a year he spent mostly in Vancouver as their #3.

His biggest critic would tell you he was just once a top-3 defender on a team over .500. His biggest fan would counter that he was a top-2 defenseman on his team five times, that's not easy to find this late, and you should blame the worst players that the teams were bad, not the best players. How good is Huber? Somewhere in the middle.

Originally Posted by
Some called him a Gulliver among the Lilliputians when he skated down the ice. Others saw him as a dinosaur, towering over the cavemen. Willie Huber was a giant among men, but he wasn't a bully and therein lay the problem.

Performing effectively on defense wasn't Huber's problem in Detroit. It was playing the way the fans wanted him to play which created the dilemma.

Detroit's top pick in the 1978 NHL amateur draft, Huber arrived in a 6-foot-5, 228-pound package.

People expected him to topple forwards like bowling pins, but that wasn't Huber's style. He wasn't afraid of physical play, it simply wasn't the No. 1 facet of his game.

"I don't go out looking for trouble," Huber explained. "But if someone starts getting rough with me, you can bet that I just won't shy away." The numbers were there to back up his statement. Huber led the Wings with 164 penalty minutes in 1979-80, his second NHL campaign. But his game was skill.

Huber was an amazingly agile skater for his size, an excellent puck-control defenseman with a booming shot, which he employed effectively from the point. In 1981-82, Huber and winger Mark Osborne shared the team lead in power-play goals with five apiece.

"He was our most consistent defenseman, throughout the season," Wings coach Wayne Maxner said during the 1981-82 campaign, a season in which Huber and Greg Smith formed Detroit's No. 1 defense pairing.

The Wings tried to groom Huber slowly, sending him for a 10-game stint with Kansas City of the CHL during his first NHL season in 1978-79. Huber still managed to garner seven goals and 31 points in 68 games and was named Detroit's rookie of the year.

"If we can develop two or three young men like Huber, I think our future will be bright," said Bobby Kromm, the Wings coach at the time.

The German-born Huber moved with his family to Canada as an infant. Huber was a junior teammate of fellow Red Wing Dale McCourt in Hamilton, where they won a Memorial Cup together in 1975-76. The following season, Huber played for Canada in the World Junior Championship.

Huber played for his country again at the 1981 World Championship, but a broken cheekbone kept him out of the 1982 tournament.

A consistent goal-scoring machine from his defense position, Huber tallied 17 times in 1979-80 and scored 15 goals each in the 1980-81 and 1981-82 campaigns. He was selected to play in the 1983 NHL All-Star Game and put together a string of four 40-point seasons between 1979-80 and 1983-84.
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook of Pro Hockey 1980
struggled at times and went to minors for a brief visit but was an effective regular by end of season... very strong but not a goon type... agile for size... has hard slap shot from the point but doesn't get it off quickly enough to be consistently dangerous...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook of Pro Hockey 1981
the biggest man in the NHL but remarkably quck and agile for his size... has improved considerably in his first two seasons... handles the puck well...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook of Pro Hockey 1982
needs to improve defensive play...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook of Pro Hockey 1983
always seems capable of much more than he delivers... could still be key man if team would establish some stability...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook of Pro Hockey 1984
surprisingly agile and mobile... handles the puck well, has a good shot and is among the best at clearing traffic from the front of the net...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook of Pro Hockey 1987
Like Barry Beck, he worked and worked and turned Garden's critics around... excellent hand-eye coordination makes him best passer on team and accurate shooter... had fine playoff...
Barret Jackman, a double-tough crease clearing, teammate-sticking-up-for, penalty killing beast of a defenseman. Though only once the top dog, he has been in his team's top-4 his entire career (3, 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, 4, 3 this year) - at even strength he has ranked 2, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, and down to 3rd this year as he begins his graceful decline at age 32. Four times a top pairing even strength defenseman, for a guy who is so defensively inclined, and averages about 20 points per 80 games, is awesome. He hits, blocks shots, and has a fight about every 10 games. Just three available defensemen have better numerical PK credentials than his: 46% usage, 7% better performance than average. Not only has he played big even strength minutes, he has managed to post a positive career adjusted +/- despite making little to no offensive contribution to the cause.

Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 2004
Jackman has the brain of a 35-year old defenseman in a 22-year old's body. The Blues defense looked on the brink of collapse in training camp without Pronger, but up stepped Jackman to partner with MacInnis and look like an all-star himself while doing it. Jackman's game is so complete, so rock-solid, that it was incredible to think he was a rookie. Strength on the puck? Check. Positioning? Check. Intelligence? Check. Checking? Check. Jackman is a smooth skater with above average NHL speed. He has a great passing touch, either in an offensive mode or to make the first pass..his offensive contributions will be modest... Jackman doesn't panic under pressure and plays odd man rushes wisely, seldom getting suckered out of position. Jackman didn't just play last season. He faced opposing teams' top lines night after night. He was sent out in crucial situations. He had to grow up in a hurry... Jackman isn't huge, but he is strong, tough and aggressive. He'll fight if he has to, and he's not scared of league heavyweights, even if he isn't one himself.
Originally Posted by McKeen's and Sports Forecasters, 2006-2012
stay at home defenseman who plays like he's 240 pounds... a leader in the dressing room... never takes a shift off. He often, sometimes recklessly, throws his body into whatever it takes to win. This results in frequent injury problems, but when he's healthy, the Blues are a much better squad... second on the team in both hits and blocked shots... defensive stalwart, often relied upon to provide leadership and experience... now an embattled veteran... puts his body on the line every night, starting to feel the effects... when healthy, a great leader, shot blocker and shutdown defender...

Last edited by seventieslord: 12-22-2011 at 01:05 AM.
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