Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dion Phaneuf

07-08 Prediction:
Had an up and down season in 06-07. Opposition began to compensate for Phaneuf’s presence on the blueline, but he still managed 17 goals, 4 game winners. Destroyed Denis Hamel early on in the year with a thundering check, but was quieter than his rookie year. Did not mesh well with Robyn Regehr. Ice time increased. Asked to play a pure shutdown/containment role for Canada in the World Championships, Phaneuf was nothing less than spectacular.

07-08 Evaluation:
Phaneuf's counting numbers continued their increasingly impressive rise to 17 goals and and 60 points. I don't think he had any single highlight reel hits this year but that's ok, I'm more concerned with his actual defensive presence.

I don't think there was any better illustration of Phaneuf's shortcomings than in the playoffs against San Jose. While there was no doubt he was contributing offensively (3G, 7PTS), it was nothing less than heart attack hockey seeing him go against Joe Thornton. It's unfair to accuse Phaneuf of not being strong enough, but quite frankly, he just couldn't handle Thornton, especially down low. There's no shame in that obviously, Thornton is one of the league's elite. It just appears that Phaneuf isn't, at least when it comes to defensive zone coverage. Not yet anyway.Looking at numbers I think we can get a bit of a year long illustration of what I'm saying. His offensive numbers are all stellar, (1st in GFON for defencemen, 1st in pts/60 for defencemen, etc). He's obviously a workhorse (1st overall in EVTOI/60) but I have to think that at least some of his totals are because of the fact he gets top notch teammates.

The disappointing part of the numbers come in the fact we can see he's facing 2nd tier opposition and not really stopping them from scoring goals. He's not even in the first half of defenceman in terms of opposition shutdown ability.

Right now Phaneuf is a very good defenceman, but if he ever hopes to win that Norris he was nominated for he needs to tighten up his defensive zone coverage.

Projection: number 1 defenceman
Key Stat: 1st for defenceman in GFON and PTS/60

Sheldon Souray

07-08 Prediction:

Appropriately labeled a 'chaos defender' by Lowetide. Is often as likely to cause a goal against as a goal for. Has given up a couple of unsightly highlight reel one on one situations, although cut down on that 'issue' in the most recent season. Has an absolute boomer from the point and a real mean streak. Is a physical presence. Appears to be well respected by players. Is absolutely not as good a player as Ryan Smyth despite his pay scale.

07-08 Evaluation:
I must admit, looking back, I've been a bit hard on Souray. I think everything I wrote about him in my 07-08 prediction holds pretty true, but when he first went down with shoulder trouble last season I made the comment that the Oilers were probably better off without him playing. His counting totals weren't very impressive and he seemed to be on for a lot of goals against. From that point on Souray really only made cameo appearances for the Oilers, but he was surprisingly effective. Bare in mind this is an extremely small sample size.

Sure, his GFON was brutal (worst for defenceman, 2nd worst on the team), but look at his competition and his teammates; MacT was giving Souray pretty tough assignments and making him babysit his linemates - surprisingly he pretty much came out on top. MacT wasn't totally throwing him under the bus like Stoll or Reasoner (or Staios) judging from IOF's handy little graph, but he was obviously being challenged.

Souray's most promising statistic? His GAON - 3rd on the team and first for defenceman. Isn't that supposed to be his weakness?

Obviously last year could have been an anomaly both in terms of play and in sample size, so this year will be a real test for Souray.

Still, I'd rather have Smyth.

Projection: 1st pairing defenceman
Key Stat: 3rd overall GAON, 1st for defenceman

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lubomir Visnovsky

I think even more so than Sheldon Souray we can think of Lubomir Visnovsky as that 'puck moving defenceman' that the Oilers coveted . Partly because Souray really isn't a puck mover at all even though he was sold to the public as one, but that's neither here nor there.

The truth is that Lubomir Visnovsky did not have a stellar season last year, even by LA Kings standards. The good news is that his last season is an outlier, not the trend.

05-06: 17G, 67PTS, 0.838PPG
06-07: 18G, 58PTS, 0.841PPG
07-08: 8G, 41PTS, 0.500PPG

As Jonathan Willis would say, 'one of these things is not like the other.'

I think it's unlikely to expect nearly a point a game pace from Visnovsky, but he'll get plenty of PP time with Sheldon Souray and I would expect his pace will increase from half a point a game.

Looking at his desjardins numbers from last year with the LA Kings it should become obvious why Lubomir Visnovsky should be played on the second defensive unit against the soft opposition.

His GFON was ok but his GAON was just awful, even for LA. Let's hope that was an anomaly as well.

The basic lowdown is that I think Visnovsky is going to have to be babysat a bit at EV or given really good teammates, because his value is going to have to come on the PP.

Projection: 2nd pairing defenceman
Key Stat: 13th overall in difficulty of opposition

Robyn Regehr

07-08 Prediction:
Calgary’s best defenceman, he uses his size and positioning to punish opposition forwards. Calgary was simply a worse team when Regehr didn’t play. Offensive upside is limited, but managed to crank out 4 points in 7 games against Anaheim in the playoffs of 05-06. Is committed to the Flames and to winning, signing a below market value extension in the summer of 07.

07-08 Evaluation:
The picture above is of Robyn slamming Selanne right behind the defensive zone net, which is appropriate because that's his signature move and because he apparently has a distaste for Selanne that runs far deeper than any other NHLer.

Robyn Regehr's season can't really be described by any word other than workhorse. He played 82 games facing the toughest opposition of any defenceman and the second toughest opposition overall playing with just about the worst teammates of all defenceman.

He kept up his clutch playoff reputation by putting up 2 assists in 7 games and shadowing Joe Thornton into oblivion.

Last year Regehr played with Cory Sarich but I expect this year he'll get Phaneuf as his partner, and so his counting numbers will likely increase. If Keenan continues his power vs power strategy, I would also expect Regehr's defensive numbers (GAON) to improve as well. Having real teammates can only help him.

The only real question about Regehr is who is going to replace him on the second pairing?

Projection: 1st pairing defenceman
Key Stat: 2nd overall and 1st defenceman in opposition difficulty

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cory Sarich

I'm sure this picture is a little painful for most Flames fans but I think it's important to remember that at one point Cory Sarich won the Cup and it may not hold as much weight as the MSM may indicate but it does have value.

Most Flames fans that I have talked to seem to agree Sarich is overpaid ($3.6 cap hit) but the higher the cap rises the more appropriate his salary seems to get. He's not a bad defensive defenceman, doesn't do anything great but nothing terrible either. Generally makes safe plays and obviously had that one incredible hit on Patrick Marleau in the 08 playoffs.

Looking at his desjardins numbers there is a lot of red, but thankfully it's exactly where we would expect it to be; at his offensive numbers. Make no mistake, Cory Sarich was not brought on board to score goals, he was brought on board to stop them.

As was obvious to anyone who watched the Flames last season, Sarich played with Regehr on what basically amounted to a defensive shutdown unit. Sarich played the second toughest opposition minutes for defenseman (behind Regehr, so basically equal toughness) and did not a bad job; his GAON were 3rd among defenceman, behind Vandermeer and Aucoin who both played against much lesser opposition.

I have a feeling this year that Regehr will be paired with Phaneuf and therefore Sarich has to expect a new defensive partner at EV. Without Regehr at his side I imagine his play will remain steady but now Flames fans will be able to get a better picture of how much of a difference maker he really is.

Projection: 2nd pairing defenceman
Key Stat: 2nd quality of opposition among defenceman

Sakic Returns

TSN and the Colorado Avalanche have announced the return of Joe Sakic to a 1 year deal. Great news for hockey fans, not so great news for Flames and Oilers fans.

Who has doubts he could score a 100 points this year? I don't.

Tom Gilbert

Pictured in the above picture are Tom Gilbert (wearing the 77) and skating coach Steve Serdachney (holding the timing device). Tom Gilbert was a bit of a surprise to make the team out of training camp in 07 but he became a bit of a revelation throughout the 07-08 season. He played smart defensive hockey, he's mobile, he's not physical per se, but he is strong enough to handle opposition players.

I think we can expect his counting numbers to drop off a bit as it's unlikely he'll receive the same amount of PP time this year thanks to the acquisition of Visnovsky and a (hopefully) healthy Sheldon Souray.

Looking at Gilbert's numbers I think what really pops out are his PTS/60 and GFON which are both ranked pretty highly on the team. While his GAON wasn't particularly impressive even on the context of this team, certainly his GFON was.

This is a little bit disturbing; as LT points out, Gilbert's PTS/60 was near the top the of the division and I don't think we can expect him to continue at that level (although of course we can hope). That being said I think another year of playing and understanding what to expect at this level of hockey can only help him and hopefully his defensive numbers will improve a bit.

Projection: 1st pairing even strength defenceman
Key Stat: 2nd EVTOI/60 for defenceman and 2nd GFON/60

Monday, August 25, 2008

Denis Grebeshkov

I think the most interesting speculation about Grebeshkov right now is not about his playing ability which I think most of the Oiler nation agrees upon, but upon his future with the team. Right now he's signed through 08-09 but after that one can only assume a team from the KHL will be able to offer him more money than he's worth to the Edmonton Oilers, and without a transfer agreement that means he's gone for nothing. That and the fact that he has the opportunity to play in front of the hometown crowd means that in all likelihood he'll be gone in 09-10.

That said I think that besides the first 1/3 of last season (which was pure heart attack hockey) Grebeshkov has been adjusting nicely. While, as I mention, the first third of the season involved poor pinching decisions and bad decision breakout passing (among other things) the second half we saw Grebeshkov settle down and let his skills take over.

Of course MacT had a lot to do with Grebeshkov's success. I'll once again reference Vic's awesome graph at IOF and we can clearly Grebeshkov isn't being leaned on for the defensive responsibilities. What we can say though is that Grebeshkov played extremely well in the situation he was in, especially considering his experience (104NHLGP).

Projection: 2nd pairing defenceman
Key Stat: 1st defenceman in GFON and 2nd in GAON.

Mark Giordano

07-08 Prediction:

Playing the role of Calgary’s 6th defenceman in 06-07, Giordano was nothing but stellar. He has good wheels, good hockey sense and has shown he can step it up in pressure situations. Ate up softer minutes. Was not favoured by Jim Playfair.

August 15: Marc Giordano is unsigned (Battle of Alberta)

07-08 Evaluation:
Mark Giordano is one of the biggest question marks on the roster coming into this season. Although his contributions a season ago were unquestionably favourable, he is now a year and a half removed from playing with Calgary and spent last season toiling in the now defunct (transmogrified?) RSL.

According to Giordano played the worst opposition of all Flames defenceman, but he had the worst teammates as well. He was 5th among defencemen in GFON/60 and 4th in GAON/60.

He certainly didn't take a leap forward offensively in Russia, (48GP, 7G, 15PTS Calgary, 50GP, 4G 13PTS Moscow) although I can't tell what sort of opposition he played or what sort of teammates he was given.

What I do know is that he was good enough in Europe to attract the attention of Hockey Canada officials and he was named to Canada's Spengler Cup Team and then to the World Championship entry as an alternate. I think Flames fans can take that as a good sign.

I think if Giordano can play a top 4 role for the Flames at even strength, they'll be in a good position come April. I think if Aucoin is forced to play that role, the Flames will be in trouble.

Projection: 2nd pairing defenceman

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Adrian Aucoin

I debated about whether to place Aucoin behind or ahead of Giordano, but the more I think about it the more I think I'd much rather have Giordano on the second pairing. It's not that I think Aucoin is devoid of ability, quite the contrary. I think he still has ok offensive instincts and his defence isn't bad - it's just not great either.

His mobility last year was just so awful- I can't recall all the instances I saw him get beat on the outside.

Looking at Aucoin's desjardins numbers I think Keenan evaluated Aucoin in much the same way. The only defenceman playing lesser competition and getting less EV ice time was Vandermeer and Warrener.

The good news is that I think Aucoin did pretty well in the situations he played in (on average). His GFON was pretty middle of the pack but his offensive stats are definitely better than average.

My hope for the upcoming season is that Aucoin is sheltered from the tough competition and utilized as a nice weapon against the softies.

Projection: 3rd pairing defenceman (#1 PP Unit)
Key Stat: #1 defenceman goals/60

Steve Staios

07-08 Prediction

A heart and sole hockey player who continues to age like a fine wine. Staios has excellent positioning and is always physical. Is not a quick/fast player and is not offensively gifted. He’s a guy 29 NHL teams wish they had in some capacity or another. Probably not a top pairing guy but could excel in a shutdown role. Used to play forward for the Atlanta Thrashers but has been named Oilers’ Unsung Hero multiple times. Will be heavily counted upon in the upcoming season. I believe he will be named team captain, but at the very least he will be an assistant.

07-08 Evaluation

I think this one sentence "will be heavily counted upon in the upcoming season" pretty much summed up Steve Staios' last season with the Oilers, although I think "continues to age like a fine wine" still applies. Despite not having the defence presence or ability of someone like Robyn Regehr, MacTavish continues to go back to his workhorse time and time again. This face off analysis from IOF shows in yet another way just how much MacTavish counts on Staios and certainly explains why his plus minus is so bad. Imagine if the guy had anywhere near an even faceoff zone spread.

I think this upcoming year MacTavish's reliance on Staios will wain, at least in some situations. He's got some new guys that might be of use in the defensive zone (Strudwick, Visnovsky), and a couple that will probably be improved (Smid, Gilbert). Time to spread the load around a bit.

Here's Lowetide's take.

Projection: top 4 defenceman
Key Stat: 1st overall in icetime, 2nd overall in quality of opposition

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jim Vandermeer

I think the first thing that needs to be said about Jim Vandermeer is that he's played the equivalent of just over 3 full NHL seasons and played for 4 teams. Granted he's made 2 stops on Broad St., but I don't think this can be construed in a complimentary way. Another thing to note is that although I've categorized him as a defenceman (as has topps trading card company) but Sutter utilized him as a forward on several occasions. Not really sure if that's a testament to Vandermeer's versatility, an insult to his defensive ability or an insult to the effectiveness of the Flames forward group.

Looking at his desjardins numbers it becomes clear that Vandermeer was sheltered by his coaches as his quality of competition rating is much lower than his quality of teammates. Now as far as I know these desjardins numbers are for the whole year and not just his time in Calgary which could explain his high ranking in GAON. Either he did a good job or benefited from playing on some decent teams with good lineups. For the moment though it looks as though if you shelter Vandermeer and give him some lower quality of competition he could do alright.

Projection: 3rd pairing defenceman
Key Stat: 4 overall in GAON

Ladislav Smid

07-08 Prediction:

A smooth skating puck handling defenceman. Tends to make pretty good 1st passes. Reads the play pretty well defensively. Biggest crime last year was being thrust into a key role as a 1st year defenceman, but I believe he has good fundamentals. Can hold onto the puck for too long and isn’t very physical. Hasn’t shown the offensive upside a player of his skill set perhaps could have.

07-08 Evaluation:
I think we saw Smid take a step forward in 07-08 based purely on his desjardins numbers. He saw top 4 minutes, top 4 quality of competition and his GAON was top 4. He still needs to work on helping his linemates put the puck in the net which explains his horrendous +/- but there weren't many Oilers defenceman out of the red last year (only one in fact) so I'm not going to totally hold it against him. Smid's role should be reduced a bit this year and I think that can only help him.

Projection: 3rd pairing defenceman
Key Stat: 4th overall in EV ice time

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Anders Eriksson

I don't think there's a lot of positive that can be said about Anders Eriksson in terms of hockey skills. He's not confident with the puck and is consistently prone to making errors, many of them pretty big. He's also pretty bad without the puck in terms of reading the play and positioning himself effectively. He's also pretty bad 1-1.

I think part of the problem is that Anders simply isn't very good, but I think part of the problem was quicksand. Quicksand is a term I first heard in the movie 'The Replacements' starring Keanu Reeves. It refers to a player in sports who makes a single error and puts himself in a hole. To get out of the hole the player tries to make an even bigger play and creates an even bigger error and so deeper he goes, and the cycle continues until he is buried. Quicksand.

I think we can explain a lot of Eriksson's problems with this analogy. He was paired with Phaneuf for most of the year and was clearly overwhelmed and maybe he just tried to do too much. Maybe. Maybe he's just bad. Probably.

Projection: AHL defenceman - Sutter sends Eriksson down and brings him up only due to injuries - we'll take the risk of another team grabbing him on waivers
Key Stat: Worst GAON for all Flames defenders

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jason Strudwick

Strudwick comes to the Oilers this summer in a deal from the Rangers as a missing puzzle piece. Now that the Oilers have that coveted playmaking defenceman (Visnovsky) they were short a veteran play it safe guy. That guy is now Jason Strudwick. He'll probably come in and be expected to make the simple plays, calm the young kids down and stick up for his teammates ala Matt Greene.

I think Lowetide's take that Strudwick could see an expanded role under MacT is certainly very reasonable although I wouldn't necessarily expect it or be disappointed if it didn't happen.

When we look at the numbers it looks as though Strudwick was definately sheltered at EV, he's the last place defender at TOI and quality of teammates, and he's dead last overall in terms of quality of competition as well as Goals/60, Assists/60 and Points/60. However, goals and points is not why the Oilers traded for Strudwick, and they aren't expecting him to shut down the likes of Gaborik and Iginla.

Projection: 7th defender
Key Stat: 2nd defender in GAON

Rhett Warrener

07-08 Season Prediction:

Arguably has more heart than anyone else on the team, playing through various (and obviously painful) potential career ending injuries. Played his best hockey of 06-07 in the playoffs but is not capable of playing a top 6 role with injuries anymore. Needs a speedy defence partner to be most effective, but tends to read the play well. Can still dish out punishment. Lack of speed is a big issue.

07-08 Evaluation:
I think everything I said at the beginning of last season is still true now. Warrener's position with the team hasn't really changed; he shouldn't be playing on the top 6 and it seems like Sutter has sent the message that he shouldn't be playing with the team at all.

We see a lot of red in Warrener's little profile here. Keenan was hiding Warrener at EV big time. He was played the least of any defender, against the worst competition. His teammates were also pretty bad but he had to be among the worst of them.

Projection: 7th defender - Sutter won't put him in the minors to avoid the cap hit, even if he should.
Key Stat: second to last defender in terms of GAON.

Mathieu Roy

I have to preface this by saying I actually like Mathieu Roy. He's plucky. You can't help but cheer for the guy. The main problem is that he's just not that great. He's also pretty injury prone.

I wouldn't say he got eaten alive in his 13 games last year, and I think he could be an alright option for a seventh defenceman and will be able to compete for a spot with Jason Strudwick. Looking at the numbers though it seems that MacT believes Roy has limited use.

Projection: injury call up defenceman
Key Stats: Last among Oiler defenders in EVTOI and first among Quality of Teammates. Ranked 3 in defenders for GFON and GAON though.

Updated Player Profiles On The Way

We're only a couple weeks away from NHL training camps beginning in earnest and I think the best way to predict the future is to evaluate the past. In doing so I will be updating and expanding my player profiles.

I probably won't be saying anything that hasn't been said before but I think the scale of the project hasn't really been taken on as of yet and I think that even if I don't have anything new to say I will be able to confirm some suspicions I (and others) have had.

My method was fairly straightforward but without explaining it some of my conclusions will be pretty questionable so here it is:

I took the EV numbers from the 07-08 season for all returning Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers and ranked them in all categories overall and positionally (except for corsi). If a player was ranked 1st either overall or positionally he gets a turquoise highlight of the cell, a red cell fill means that player was last place either overall or positionally.

Importantly, the rankings are based ONLY on the returning players. It was an arbitrary decision but I think there are a couple advantages. For instance, we can see what sorts of holes we're left with after the loss of players. In terms of the Flames, Huselius and Tanguay in particular left massive EV holes and because of this, Wayne Primeau is our third ranking returning forward in terms of opposition. That's bad. Secondly, I think it unclutters things. Since those players are gone their stats are noise, not target. We can pinpoint what they did well and what we need to replace, but either way we need to evaluate who will be best for what role now, and those ex players are useless for that.

I've also included incoming players for both the Flames and Oilers. Their rankings are based on their placement with their former teams in the 07-08 season, but their rankings include players that might have been traded from their team. This makes things a little ugly in terms of interpretations but it was purely a practicality thing. I really just didn't want to get into 6 different teams and figure out who was moved, what the roster looks like now, etc. Nonetheless, I think we can still infer some valuable information about their previous role and what they might be doing in the upcoming season.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dion Phaneuf or Jay Bouwmeester

I've made it no secret that I am a Jay Bouwmeester fan. Way back in the early 2000s I had a fantasy trade made in my head for him: Jarome Iginla for Jay Bouwmeester and Roberto Luongo. Think the proposition was inane?

Remember this was when Bouwmeester was closer to 18 years old and Roberto was about 20. Iginla had just scored 52 goals and a gold medal in the Olympics. Eventually Luongo (probably the more valuable piece) went for Bertuzzi, and not even a Bertuzzi in his prime. Jay Bouwmeester will be gone next year; he's obviously unhappy in Florida.

Not sure if that trade would have really benefited the Flames. Iginla is still probably worth more than both of them - if he's not the best he's damn close. (Feel free to debate both these points).

Anyway, the point of all this background is that the other day MG brought up the possibility of Sutter going after Bouwmeester. He meets all of Sutter's criteria (from Alberta) except one (not old). In the comments section I brought up my personal bias that if I had to make the choice I would probably take Bouwmeester. MG argued that although Bouwmeester may be the better player, Phaneuf had the higher ceiling.

I decided to dig a little deeper to compare the numbers between these two defenceman. First, the counting numbers:

On first glance they look pretty close, but obviously Jay has played a couple of extra seasons, so we can take a look at counting numbers based on games played. As is plainly obvious, Dion outshines Jay at just about every opportunity. GPG, APG, PPG, SPG, +/-.

We can probably explain some of the difference thusly: Jay Bouwmeester plays on a terrible team, Dion Phaneuf plays on a pretty good team (that is admittedly going downhill.) How much does this affect account for the difference in counting numbers? Hard to say.

Now let's take a look at the Desjardins numbers. I went back to 06-07, Phaneuf's second year and Bouwmeester's third.

06-07 Behind the net numbers

One of the first things that jumps out at me is what a good comp these two make. Look at their even strength ice time totals; about 17 minutes a night each. We can also see that Phaneuf clearly played with better teammates - not surprising, Florida simply didn't have the players Calgary did. Bouwmeester also faced stiffer competition, if only just.

Also take a quick look at each players contribution to team point production. Bouwmeester actually had twice the +/-ON that Phaneuf did - and while the team had a better +/- when Phaneuf took a seat on the bench, Florida imploded when Bouwmeester wasn't on the ice. Bouwmeester actually had the second best ON +/- on the team (players with more than 10 games), next only to Jokinen. Bouwmeester had the team's best OFF+/-, meaning the team had the biggest drop in efficiency when he left the ice.

Phaneuf was 12th on the Flames in ON+/-. This is both due to the fact he had better teammates, but I would also bet it's simply because he's less effective at EV.

Now, Dion does obviously have a few positives. To start, the Flames drew more penalties when Dion was on the ice than Florida did when Bouwmeester was on(151 to 95) but they also took more (149 to 135).

Moving on to the 07-08 season we can see a couple changes. Bouwmeester has an extra minute and a half at EV, and while Phaneuf's competition and teammates have stayed about equal, Bouwmeester has begun to face much better opposition.

07-08 Behind the net numbers

The scoring breakdown begins to separate the two here as well. Phaneuf is putting pucks in the net at about twice the rate of Bouwmeester. They both make first assists at about the same rate (Phaneuf slight edge) but Phaneuf makes second assists at about twice the rate of Bouwmeester. Dion also holds an edge in GFON, and to my surprise, GAON.

I think in cases like this it's important to compare within the team rather than between teams, and in that regard Bouwmeester is ranked 4th in GFON, behind Horton, Booth and Weiss while he's ranked 6th in GAON. To note, his ranking between the two stats is 10th on his team, but on closer inspection he's playing significantly better competition than anyone ranked about him. He's number 1 on the team in terms of competition.

Phaneuf is ranked number 5 for GFON on the Flames, impressive considering the players ahead of him (Iginla, Langkow, Tanguay, Huselius). He is however ranked 17th in GAON, not so impressive. He's 8th on the team overall in the combined GF/GAON+/-. Phaneuf ranks 7 on the team in quality of competition.

What's the conclusion?

No idea really. They're obviously both great players and it's obvious Dion is scoring at a higher rate but it's hard to say whether that's purely due to his teammates or his skill. The Desjardins stats on these guys are also definitely affected by their coaches personal preferences and styles. It looks like Martin leaned heavily on Bouwmeester at even strength more so to shutdown thereby giving the skilled offensive guys the lesser competition to go against while Phaneuf is out there in a power vs power to try run and gun it out.

Personally, I think it's reasonable and even likely to suggest Phaneuf has a higher ceiling of offensive ability but in practice it looks like Bouwmeester has just been shouldered with a lot more defensive responsibility on a much weaker team. It would be interesting to see him on a line with Iginla and Langkow and until he gets those line mates I'm not willing to draw a line in the sand.