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Why We Don't Need a #1 D

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06-27-2012, 12:53 PM
  #1
Drew75
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Why We Don't Need a #1 D

What is a number 1 D? Obviously, there has to be an offensive element to his game – but is Brian Campbell a #1 D? I wouldn’t say so, even though he was 3rd in D scoring last year. Some would say Kris Letang and Duncan Keith are #1 D’s – even though Phaneuf put up more points than both on a worse team.

So obviously it’s more than offense. Well, what about defensive acumen? Adam Foote was the best in the business, but I don’t think he’d be any more than a very good #2 or 3 guy. Paul Coffey was a clear #1, but never got close enough to see that Fuhr was black. Many are calling Eric Karlsson a #1, but his defensive game is a work in progress.

So it’s more than that. It is more about a defenseman who can control the game, adjust the flow to what he wants. One who can dominate a game for your team.
Who is out there now as a clear #1 guy?

I would suggest you have (both those who are now, and those on the cusp of becoming a clear #1 guy) Chara, Doughty, Karlsson, Weber, and maybe soon Petriangelo. That is 5 guys in a 30 team league. Other guys like Keith, Letang, Byfuglien, Suter and Yandle are very good top pairing guys – but are they really #1 guys?

In the past two years, both cup winning teams had a number 1 D, but both teams really won because of their goalies. The runner ups both years did not have a #1 D. in fact, if you look at the perennially competitive teams, very few have what would be clearly be classified as a #1 D.

The ones who did:
  • Boston: Chara
  • LA: Doughty
  • Philly: Pronger
  • Detroit: Lidstrom
And the others that don’t have one:

Chicago, New York Rangers, Washington, San Jose, Vancouver, and Pittsburgh

There are also teams that have a #1 D, but still haven’t found perennial success such as Ottawa and Nashville.

So looking at all of the teams that are always at the top of heap, in the hunt for the cup year after year (where we want to be), it is clear that you definitely need some very good defensemen, but do you really need a clear cut #1 guy?

I say no. What you do need is two very good top pairing guys that you can rely on and can play big minutes for you.

For the Leafs – We obviously have Phaneuf. For all the grief he gets on these boards, he is still a solid top pairing guy, 12th in scoring for D, and makes the other team aware when he’s on the ice. I think – like Schenn – he struggled a bit defensively with Wilsons ‘run & gun’ system, but will be a lot more solid under Carlyle with a better system and slightly fewer minutes / game.

Gardiner isn’t there yet, but he is showing all the signs of being another solid top pairing D. He can control the play with his smooth skating and puck movement, and will likely be another 40-50 point guy on the back end.

Rielly probably has the highest ceiling of the bunch. With two or three years to develop, he will be a clear top pairing guy, and has a outside shot of even becoming that elusive number 1 guy, but most likely just a REALLY good top pairing guy.

If we can sign Shultz – that will give us a total of 3 top pairing guys next year, and 4 of them in short order when Rielly is ready.

Add the guys like, Liles, Gunnarsson, Percy, and Blacker for your second pairing, with depth guys like Holzer coming up the pipeline, and the fact is that the Leafs are in a very solid footing on the back for the next 10+ years.

It stands to reason that we can build an awesome D corps of three top pairing guys, three second pairing guys, and a couple of depth guys in the press box. With the right system and management of their minutes, it will be more than good enough to lead us in to perennial contention, without having to blow up our prospect depth in having to deal for one of the 5 or so clear #1 guys.

I would personally scratch #1 D off of our “needs list”, and focus our assets on acquiring more stability in net plus size and skill up front.

Your thoughts?

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06-27-2012, 12:56 PM
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Too late, the Leafs already have a number one defenceman in Phaneuf.

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06-27-2012, 12:57 PM
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I agree however if you can get a number 1 guy like suter it does not make the team worse. A number 1 dmen should not be a high priority but should be still looked at.

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06-27-2012, 12:58 PM
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Stephen
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We have Phaneuf already...

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06-27-2012, 12:59 PM
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dubey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mooseOAK View Post
Too late, the Leafs already have a number one defenceman in Phaneuf.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen View Post
We have Phaneuf already...
Aw shucks!

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06-27-2012, 01:03 PM
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I think you probably need a combination of #1D, #1C, or #1G. You don't need all 3 to win the cup, however 2 of the 3 is good enough. The Leafs have a #1D in Phaneuf, however he isn't enough considering the Leafs are deficient in the other areas.

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06-27-2012, 01:03 PM
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Kessely Snipes
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What about Phaneuf?

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06-27-2012, 01:03 PM
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JGardiner51
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Duncan Keith = #1 Dman

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06-27-2012, 01:10 PM
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number72
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Look at LA.
They have Doughty a capable defender with offensive flair who success is keeping the puck in the opponents end. But one the most under rated player is Mitchell ( a pure shutdown defender) that works the PK, can shutdown top forwards (Sedins, Parise/Kovi, etc).

I think Phaneuf is one of the best "balanced" defenders in the game with solid defensive skills and top end offensive skills. The leafs need a top end shutdown defenders that is great at PK and shutting down top lines.

Campbell and Panthers have Mike Weaver.
Letang and Penguins have Orpik.
The player doesn't need to paired with Phaneuf but that skillset is missing on the leafs (and this was the skill set we hoped Komi or Schenn would bring or develop). Potentially Holzer is next defender that might fill the gap but he is not ready for top 4 yet.

So no we don't need a #1D necessarily (but I wouldn't opposed to Suter) but we do need a top shutdown defender.
Though I rank this behind #1C and shoring up goaltending

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06-27-2012, 01:11 PM
  #10
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Correct, they don't need one because they already have one.

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06-27-2012, 01:12 PM
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ForzaItalia
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I don't think Phaneuf is a #1D.

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06-27-2012, 01:13 PM
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Eyedea
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Phaneuf put up 2 more points than Letang in 31 more games.

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06-27-2012, 01:13 PM
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lol @ Phaneuf being a legit #1

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06-27-2012, 01:14 PM
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I see the argument come up all the time about #1 starters in baseball. To me there's a difference between top tier (or top 5 or whatever) and #1. Pretty much every guy you mentioned is a #1. To me #1 is basically would he be the best dman on more than half the teams, the rest have #1's who aren't quite true #1's, but Letang, Yandle, Keith, Suter? These guys are all well-rounded enough (not perfect, but enough) that I don't think there's any question whatsoever that they're number #1 calibre defensemen, unless you define the term as guys who can be in the argument for best defenseman in the league at that time (very few would take any of those guys over Weber, Chara, Doughty).

Guys like Campbell or Byflugien or Foote on the other side, (Karlsson is too young to say he's there for good) I can see being able to not call #1's as you need to not be a negative on one side of the puck. I'm not sure that's right as their are guys just so good at one aspect it's hard to say they're not #1's, I think these guys are guys best referred to as 1A types, but there's obviously room for debate there too.

Other than that, I'll agree that you do not need a top 3-5 dman to win the cup, although it certainly doesn't hurt, but you do need something akin to what I would refer to as a #1 defenseman.

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06-27-2012, 01:14 PM
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Drew75
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I don't think that Phaneuf is a clear number 1 D, more of a really good top pairing guy. To me there is a difference, as a clear #1 guy is the elite D who takes over a game (see: Neidermyer (sp?), Lidstrom, etc).

It's funny how many here say we already have a #1 considering all the cries that are also here for the Leafs need of a #1 ...

Hmmm....

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06-27-2012, 01:19 PM
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wow Phaneuf is so overrated

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06-27-2012, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew75 View Post
I don't think that Phaneuf is a clear number 1 D, more of a really good top pairing guy. To me there is a difference, as a clear #1 guy is the elite D who takes over a game (see: Neidermyer (sp?), Lidstrom, etc).

It's funny how many here say we already have a #1 considering all the cries that are also here for the Leafs need of a #1 ...

Hmmm....
Phaneuf is too good for 3/4 and perhaps a notch below where a team would want a 1/2. The thing is there are not many players that fit Lidstrom archetype in the game.
Nashville has perhaps two but most teams are lucky if they have one.

In terms of risk/reward, I would upgrade the team with a pure shutdown defender that works the PK and offloads some of Phaneuf from hard minutes. And gives Phaneuf the PP and a few more easy minutes to do what he does well - generate offence. This is what LA and Panthers do for example.

That said, in ideal world the leafs would have Chara, Sutter, Weber etc but I'm being a bit realistic here with the state of the current team.

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06-27-2012, 01:31 PM
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06-27-2012, 01:33 PM
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Aplayaz2000
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Phaneuf a born leader.

And a Number 1 Defenceman in the NHL.

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06-27-2012, 01:33 PM
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I think what most GMs should strive for is to put together the best defensive unit. Which is a nice balance of offence, defence, toughness, puck moving ability etc., and not necessarily a bonafide #1D.
Take our beloved '93 squad as an example. It was about as balanced as it gets with Ellett & Mironov providing offence and puck-moving. Lefebvre and Rouse as shutdown. Gill was a jack of all trades. And Macoun...well he was just mean. But not one of them would be considered a #1. Pat Burns said they were the best unit in the NHL at the time. Couple that with solid goaltending and there ya go.

So looking forward if you would....who fills what role?

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06-27-2012, 01:35 PM
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I think Phanuef is great but not a # 1 Dmen

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06-27-2012, 01:38 PM
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Erza Scarlet
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I consider Phaneuf a top pairing guy. #1 or #2 i don't know. We're be fine if we have 3 no.2 guys.

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06-27-2012, 01:42 PM
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew75 View Post
I don't think that Phaneuf is a clear number 1 D, more of a really good top pairing guy. To me there is a difference, as a clear #1 guy is the elite D who takes over a game (see: Neidermyer (sp?), Lidstrom, etc).

It's funny how many here say we already have a #1 considering all the cries that are also here for the Leafs need of a #1 ...

Hmmm....
What some cry about here is hardly an indication of anything.

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06-27-2012, 01:43 PM
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Pyromaniac3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougieg93 View Post
I think you probably need a combination of #1D, #1C, or #1G. You don't need all 3 to win the cup, however 2 of the 3 is good enough. The Leafs have a #1D in Phaneuf, however he isn't enough considering the Leafs are deficient in the other areas.
If you don't have a #1G, then you better make sure that the system is strictly defensive with very good 2-way forwards and good defencemen.

#1G is a must if one wants to win in the playoffs. Philly has one of the best forwards unit and pretty good defenders. However, they don't have a good goalie.

As for the topic, we have a #1d in Phaneuf but our other defenders are not that good. Phaneuf is counted upon providing offense as well as pking at the same time while loggin 25mins every game. It takes a toll. We need more strictly defensive guys to take pressure off Phaneuf on the pk.

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06-27-2012, 01:44 PM
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erza Scarlet View Post
I consider Phaneuf a top pairing guy. #1 or #2 i don't know.
I agree with this. I don't know if Phaneuf is a clear cut #1 defenceman. I like him a lot, but, our teams #1 priority should be to improve his partner. We need a perfect compliment to Phaneuf to let him play his game, and not have to pull 60-75% of his pairings work. A perfect fit defenceman who can PK will make every defenceman on the Leafs better.

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