Defensemen: 11-15

11 – Shea Weber

One of the best defensemen in the league to not win a Norris Trophy. Has that window closed? It very well may have. But Weber is still a very effective No. 1 blueliner in Montreal. He carried a weak blueline corps in Montreal last season. What his $7.857 million cap hit will look like come 2023 is a conversation for another day.

12 – Ryan McDonagh

Speaking of Montreal’s blue line, the Habs traded away McDonagh for Scott Gomez and Tom Pyatt in 2009. Think they’d take that one back? McDonagh has carried the water for an underwhelming Rangers defense in recent seasons. He’ll get some help this season with Kevin Shattenkirk to his right.

13 – Mark Giordano

He formed one of the league’s best defensive pairings with Dougie Hamilton last season and before that had a good thing going with T.J. Brodie. Sense a trend?

14 – Justin Faulk

Faulk is the senior, veteran presence on the uber-talented Carolina blueline. He’s 25 years old. He’s averaged 23:47 of ice time since 2012-13 while putting up 170 points in 335 games.

15 – Colton Parayko

No idea how he lasted until the third round in the 2012 draft. Either way, the Blues have a perfect compliment to Pietrangelo as a big, skilled defenseman that can move the puck. Parayko’s $5.5 million cap hit through 2021-22 will age nicely.


Stat of the Day: Rangers on Pace to Shatter Team Offense Record

The New York Rangers score a lot. Have you heard?

The Rangers offense is out to a blistering start, scoring an NHL-high 72 goals through 17 games, holding a more than comfortable 10-score lead over its Metropolitan Division rival Philadelphia, whose 62 goals are second-best.

The Blueshirts 4.23 goals per game puts them on pace for 347 over the 82-game season, which would shatter the team record of 321, which was set in the 1991-92 season. That year, New York won the Patrick Division with 105 points, winning 50 games for the first time in team history. Mark Messier led the team with 107 points in his first season on Broadway while Brian Leetch became the 14th defenseman in NHL history to record 100 points in a season, finishing with 102, something no defenseman has done since.

While not having a player the caliber of Messier or Leetch, the Rangers have received scoring from 13 different players, led by J.T. Miller’s seven goals and 17 points in 17 games. Kevin Hayes, coming off a disappointing sophomore season, has eight and 16 over 17 in his third year.

Back on the blue line, the emphasis has been placed upon moving pucks quickly and being a part of the rush. Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei have 11 and 10 assists, respectively, despite neither having a goal. Nick Holden has two goals and nine points while his plus-14 rating leads all defensemen.

The 347 goals the Rangers are on pace is a total matched by no team since the 1995-96 Penguins, which lit up opponents for 362 goals that season. The closest any team has come to that mark since was Washington in 2009-10, with 313 goals.

There’s plenty of signs pointing towards a regression for the Rangers. New York is just 19th in the league with 29.1 shots on goal while leading the league shooting 14.57 percent. They’re also a negative possession team with a score and venue-adjusted five-on-five corsi-for of 49.01.

The Rangers are the second-best five-on-five team in the league behind Chicago, and have scored 68 percent of their goals at even strength. Thirteen goals have come on the powerplay, which is clicking at 24.1 percent.

The pace looks unsustainable – and it probably is. Many are expecting a big-trees-fall-hard scenario with this group, bore out by the numbers and what the law of averages suggest, as well as the fact the scoring numbers that are on pace with teams from the 1980s and 1990s, akin to a pitcher in Major League Baseball being on pace for 33 wins.

But we’ll see how long it lasts.