# Getting “O” from the “D”

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The Maple Leafs finished as the league’s worst defensive team last season, giving up an astounding 286 goals, which works out to about 3.5 goals against a game. As such, much of the team’s summer remodeling took place on the blueline, which saw the departure of Kubina and the additions of shutdown defensemenÂ  Beauchemin and Komisarek. With nearly \$20M dollars committed per season through 2011 to the group of Kaberle, Komisarek, Beauchemin, Schenn and Finger, and Tomas being the only player above the age of 30, it appears on paper at least, that this will be the core of the defense for the foreseeable future. If that’s the case, how do they stack up against the rest of the league?

The first inclination one gets from that collection of names is the relative lack of offensive ability, as 4 of those 5 players come with the reputation of being defensive defensemen. Considering the fact that the Leafs relied on him for 25 minutes a night (a number that would have put him league’s top 10 for ice-time) during the second half of the season, is likely a sign that Burke and Wilson view 25 year old Ian White as a fixture in the team’s long-term plans. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how a top six defense corps of Kaberle, Komisarek, Beauchemin, Schenn, White, and Finger stacks up against the best of the best.

In order to do that, we’re gonna first have to make a few reasonable assumptions. The first one is how to estimtae ice-time. These are the ’08-’09 averages for that top six group:

1. Kaberle â€“ 22 minutes
2. Komisarek â€“ 20 minutes
3. Beauchemin â€“ 22 minutes
4. Schenn â€“ 22 minutes
5. Finger â€“ 17 minutes
6. White â€“ 17 minutes

Beautiful. Now onto the projections. To avoid the inclusion of some tedious math, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. To project their offensive point totals, I can simply take their points per minute averages from last season and multiply them out to fit the appropriate ice-time allotments. Granted, I understand that White’s point totals include the games he played as a forward, we can also assume an increase to compensate for that overestimation due to the fact that he’d likely get more powerplay time moving forward. For Kaberle, I’m going to use his ’07-’08 numbers and assume that last year’s disappointing totals were an anomaly. For Beauchemin, it’s likely he’s going to take over Kubina’s role as the point shot on the top powerplay, so we’re going to use his ’06-’07 stats, the last time he earned top PP minutes. Here are the results:

1. Kaberle â€“ 47 points
2. Komisarek â€“ 14 points
3. Beauchemin â€“ 28 points
4. Schenn â€“ 17 points
5. White â€“ 20 points
6. Finger â€“ 24 points
7. Total – 150 points

Last season, Toronto’s defense corps scored 160 points, so the decline is not too surprising considering the replacement of offensive defensemen Kubina and Van Ryn with Beauchemin and Komisarek. Well, is that enough offense from the blueline for a contending team? Let’s find out:

The top ten regular season teams from last season and the amount of points scored from the back end:

1. San Jose – 203 points
2. Boston – 184 points
3. Detroit – 224 points
4. Washington – 151 points
5. New Jersey – 128 points
6. Chicago – 202 points
7. Vancouver – 167 points
8. Pittsburgh -147 points