Early season statistical surprises on Defense.

As requested, I have looked into the early defensive player performances and came up with this followup to the previous “surprises” article.

This is a tough call. Many of you will have your opinions. These are mine. Again, these are just my opinions. I am looking to see what others think.

How do you really judge who has been a surprise on defense? Do you go by hits, points, plus/minus, giveaway/takeaway numbers or a combination of all? I am not totally sure but I looked at all of these areas as well as the current status of their respective teams. I also reviewed past statistics of veteren players to see how they compared.

This is what I came up with.

Top Five Defensive Surprises

  1. Kim Johnsson, Philadelphia Looks as if the Flyers got the better of the Lindros deal. The question with Johnsson was if he could actually mature into a quality defenseman. So far this season he has registered four goals and 8 assists in 14 games and is a +9. The only thing more the Flyers need from him is to be a little more phisical. He has registered just 17 hits in those 14 games.
  2. Derek Morris, Calgary – In his fifth year in the NHL he is finally turning into a solid offensive defenseman. Through 16 games he has registered 11 points and is a +7. His best season was two years ago when he put up 38 points and was a +2. He is relatively physical witht 26 hits in those 16 games. Along with the offense he deals up a very good defensive effort.
  3. Janne Niinimaa, Edmonton – Always a huge prospect he had not really ever lived up to his potential. He is on pace this year to break his single season high in points and shatter his career high plus/minus. He is providing the Oilers with solid defense and is good at moving the puck up ice and creating good scoring chances.
  4. Jon Klemm, Chicago – He was always a solid performer with the Avs but was never really asked to provide offensive support. His single season high in points was in 1996-97 when he totaled 24. Through 17 games so far with the Hawks he has eight points and is a +11. He could top out at over 40 points and finish at more than a +50 rating if he keeps up this pace. He is also tied for the team lead in hits with 42 which is 11th in the league. Knows when to enter the zone and is quick to get back and break up odd man breaks.
  5. Maxim Kuznetsov, Detroit – He is having a solid year thus far. A young, stay at home type defenseman who seems to know when to jump into the play. He is big and very mobil and is a bright spot in the Wings future. One of the oldest teams in the league the Wings need more young talent like Kuznetsov in order to remain one of the NHL elite teams. Makes big hits and handles the puck well.

There you have it. What I see to be the top five defensive surprises thus far this season.

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