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How many top 4 d-men does Montreal have?

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We definitely have 1: Markov.

We definitely don't have 2: O'Byrne and Picard.

We have 1 that is definitely on his way even if he isn't one yet: Subban.

What about Hamrlik, Spacek, Gorges and Gill? Could it be that we have 5 top 4 d-men with a solid bottom pairer in Gill?

Hammer is over the hill but he's been a top 4 his entire career and is still solid. Spacek has been doing well so far this season, especially at the point on the powerplay. Gorges might be our most reliable d-man. Gill is uni-dimensional but really solid at what he does best. Subban is Subban. Markov is Markov.

It isn't the nicest D unit on paper but it's pretty awesome. I like O'Byrne as a #7 - he's young, cheap and provides something that only one other guy in our group can do. With Hamrlik's expensive contract ending, we should be better off next year (whether we re-sign him or not). It seems like our D might be our strength.

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Gorges is definitively a top 4. I say top 2 even, the only D on team who is better than he is is Markov due to his superior offensive capabilities.

Gill is a top 4 too in my book. He is beast in the playoff with his experience and that ridiculously long reach of his.

That leaves one spot, which I give to Harmlik for now tough Subban will have to replace him after this season. I like Harmlik but $5.5M he is worth no more.

So the depth cahrts goes likies this IMO

-- Right Now --

1) Markov

2) Gorges

3) Gill

4) Harmlik

5) Subban

6) Spacek

7) O'Byrne

8) Picard

-- July 2nd, 2011 --

1) Markov

2) Gorges

3) Gill

4) Subban

5) O'Byrne

6) Picard

Hopefully someone in Hamilton will be able to overcome O'byrne and/or Picard, tough I suppose we'll have to wait to know the answer to that question.

Edited by Jean

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Well, Spacek still has another year on his contract so it's just Hamrlik and Gill that are becoming UFA. Hamrlik could probably be retained for less money (3-3.5M?). I think Gill would cost around the same.

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The guy I've been least impressed with, for all he's supposed to bea

able to do, is Spatch.

I like Gorges, Markov,Hammer, and I think Subban will be soon. I hope OB gets a chance to develop cuz he could be great

Oops! Forgot to mention Gill. He's either a low ranking top 4 or a great number 5

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I'm sorry but whoever thinks Hamrlik and Spacek are top 4 defense men are totally delirious! They have been the worst defense pairing this year and are both on the way down. On any other team in the NHL they are a bottom 6 and 7 defense men. Hamrlik is way too much at 5.5 mil and we should let him walk at the end of the season and I am very strong on buying out Spacek's last year because they are two defensive liabilities. If nobody else see's this they are completely blind! Okay I'll give it to Spacek he covered Ovechkin well in the playoffs last year but we are in Montreal and there is a "what have you done for me lately" mentality.

1) Markov

2) Gorges

3) Gill

4) Subban

5) Hamrlik

6) Spacek/O'byrne

7) Picard

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I'm sorry but whoever thinks Hamrlik and Spacek are top 4 defense men are totally delirious! They have been the worst defense pairing this year and are both on the way down. On any other team in the NHL they are a bottom 6 and 7 defense men. Hamrlik is way too much at 5.5 mil and we should let him walk at the end of the season and I am very strong on buying out Spacek's last year because they are two defensive liabilities. If nobody else see's this they are completely blind! Okay I'll give it to Spacek he covered Ovechkin well in the playoffs last year but we are in Montreal and there is a "what have you done for me lately" mentality.

1) Markov

2) Gorges

3) Gill

4) Subban

5) Hamrlik

6) Spacek/O'byrne

7) Picard

+1

Hamrlik, Spacek and Gill are not top for Dmen any longer.

I would argue the only top 4 Dmen we have are Markov and Gorges. Markov obviously is a #1. I'd rank Gorges a #3 and a Subban a #1/#2 in the making.

IMO, Gill is as best a #6, because he can only play a very limited role and there is no way id resign Hamrlik next year. We already are stuck with one ove 35 contract in Spacek and don't need another. i still hope that O'Byrne will develop into a #5/#6.

What worries me is that one time we had so many prospects at the backend and now the cupboard is bear unless Emelin/Yelmelin?? finally comes over. The long line of american # 1 picks are all gone (Hainesy/Komi/Fischer/McDonoaugh). Last year's pick, Tinordi may break the trend, but he is at least 2-3 years away and it does worry me that he was cut from the USA's under 18 SUMMER camp. The only other guy I can think of is Weber. His size is a drawback and being a one dimensional player, he could develop into a Streit, but then the best case scenerio for him may be a MAB type.

I was really hoping the habs committed to burying Hamrlik to the minors and tried to trade or sign a UFA.

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I'm sorry but whoever thinks Hamrlik and Spacek are top 4 defense men are totally delirious! They have been the worst defense pairing this year and are both on the way down. On any other team in the NHL they are a bottom 6 and 7 defense men. Hamrlik is way too much at 5.5 mil and we should let him walk at the end of the season and I am very strong on buying out Spacek's last year because they are two defensive liabilities. If nobody else see's this they are completely blind! Okay I'll give it to Spacek he covered Ovechkin well in the playoffs last year but we are in Montreal and there is a "what have you done for me lately" mentality.

The Habs will never do this - he has a 35+ contract which means his cap hit counts in full whether they keep him in the NHL, bury him in the AHL, buy him out, or even if he retires.

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The Habs will never do this - he has a 35+ contract which means his cap hit counts in full whether they keep him in the NHL, bury him in the AHL, buy him out, or even if he retires.

that's exactly why i hated Spaceman's 3 yr deal and want nothing to do with Hamrlik next year.

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Hammer is the 2nd best D on the team. Are you guys serious? Gorges has been great and he is developing nicely, but last year's regular season, Hammer and Spacek were great. They were our top pair. Are they Seabrook and Keith? No. But to say Hammer is not a #3 or #4 on most teams is a little silly. If you look at the 3 years Hammer has been on the team, he is easily the #2 D on the team. Don't lose sight of what he has done since he got here. I don't think he is worth 5.5 mill, but he has been very useful to the team. Spacek has been a little disapointing. Gorges has developed very nicely this year and in last year's playoffs and I think that he will easily overtake Hammer as the #2 D on this team. Next year's pairings should look like this.

Markov Subaan

Gill Gorges

Spacek Carle

O'Byrne

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I love our D and still think they're solid even if one or two aren't playing well.

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Hammer is the 2nd best D on the team. Are you guys serious? Gorges has been great and he is developing nicely, but last year's regular season, Hammer and Spacek were great. They were our top pair. Are they Seabrook and Keith? No. But to say Hammer is not a #3 or #4 on most teams is a little silly. If you look at the 3 years Hammer has been on the team, he is easily the #2 D on the team. Don't lose sight of what he has done since he got here. I don't think he is worth 5.5 mill, but he has been very useful to the team. Spacek has been a little disapointing. Gorges has developed very nicely this year and in last year's playoffs and I think that he will easily overtake Hammer as the #2 D on this team. Next year's pairings should look like this.

Markov Subaan

Gill Gorges

Spacek Carle

O'Byrne

Impossible. Spacek-Carle would probably be one of the worst defensive pair in the league. + We all know that Carle will somehow get badly injured again.

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Impossible. Spacek-Carle would probably be one of the worst defensive pair in the league. + We all know that Carle will somehow get badly injured again.

worse than Boullion brisbois? its a third pairing. unless they can hammer at a discount

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I love our D and still think they're solid even if one or two aren't playing well.

I agree with you. The season is still young. Markov is coming back. Don't forget that he is still our best player. Let him five or ten games to find his game and the whole team will look better.

Subban will also improve as the season will go. Hill and Gorges are solid as rock. Hamrlik is still a very able defensemen. As for Spacek, I know he is slow to get started, but I feel that he is in better shape than last year. On the PP, his shot looks better and more precise, although he has not scored yet. Let's be patient, we have two young defensemen ready to play if one of the top six can't. We also have Weber, Carle, Henry and Nash (yes Nash) waiting for their chance in Hamilton.

It's been a very long time since I have seen such depth with the team. We should see good results in the first half of the season.

Way to go Habs!

Edited by JCPetit

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We have 4, but only one top 2 D. Hamrlik was a top 2 D when we first got him, and Spacek was a former top 2 as well, but right now, it's just Markov as a top 2.

Our D is passable without Markov short term, but a mess without him long term. Playing Hal Gill 22 minutes a night is just a disaster waiting to happen... and Subban is too erratic at this stage of his development... he'll give you an amazing 24 minutes one game, and a horrid 15-18 the next.

I think anyone is insane if they don't value Hamrlik or Spacek as top 4 D. That's just ridiculous... they continually face tough opposition and move the puck to the other end of the ice better than any 2 D on our team. They can be made to look silly on occasion... but that will happen when you face top opponents night in, night out. These guys shut down Ovechkin with consistency... how many people can say that? Gill and Gorges get hemmed in their own zone for full shifts.... tremendous shot blocking helps them not get shelled in the plus/minus category. This makes them a very good PK pair and last minute of the game defending a lead pair.... but not a great even strength pairing.

Picard is a viable #7 and O'Byrne is a callup.

Right now, our D is this order:

1. Markov

2. Spacek

3. Hamrlik (Spacek/Hamr are probably interchangeable as #2/3)

4. Gorges (could be higher if he becomes a viable PP option)

5. Subban

6. Gill

7. Picard

8. O'Byrne/Carle/Weber

As for next year, I guess the big question is after Markov is signed, how much is left over for d-men? Gorges gets first priority because of his age. Hamrlik is better than Gill, but value wise it might be better to target a younger UFA blueliiner. Gill and Hamrlik are heading for 1 year deal territory... it's possible they get a 2 year deal, but both should be expecting significant pay cuts... the Habs signed both of them to their last high value deal.

Edited by saskhab

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Disclaimer: I believe in the +/- as an indicator only. If it's between 10 and -10, it's a wash. It really only telling if you have a Mara-esque -16 in 42 games, etc.

It's easy: Markov is clearly a #1.

Last year, Hamrlik was the de facto #1 for the 37 games Markov missed, and he acquitted himself well, finishing the year playing 23:26/game with 26 pts and -2. Spacek, similarly, played 21:47/game, with 21 points and +9. These are facts, and these make them the #2 and 3 on the team easily, probably with Hamrlik #2, but they're interchangeable (as saskhab said).

#4 is Gorges, easily, with 21:00/game average and +2. I'm reluctant to even consider Subban in the top 4 because he is unproven. Despite the hype, you've got to reasonably expect some growing pains along the with flashes of brilliance, and the fact that this is his first full season in the league, you just can't take anything for granted.

These are our top 4 when we started the year.

Now, looking ahead to the end of the year (or this season as it plays out). The first observation that would throw any of this out of whack is that Markov is not playing, so the current ice-time of basically all the defensemen currently playing will decrease (to varying degrees) when he returns. So looking at how it stands now, (through 5 games), here are the TOI of each defenseman:

Gorges - 23:48

Subban - 22:15

Gill - 21:51

Spacek - 21:34

Hamrlik - 19:14

O'Byrne/Picard - 14:54/14:24 (lumped together because they literally are interchangeable.)

As compared to last season, Gorges' ice time is up, Subban's is high, Gill is up, Spacek is more or less the same, and Hamrlik is down. Gorges' ice time increase is likely due to his place on the PP unit, which will vanish as soon as Markov returns (as it should) and he and Gill will regress to the 19-21 minute/game level. Subban, should remain on the PP and if he gets the Markovian Assistant position, he could see his ice time increase from what he's seen so far this year (it also depends on his play). Hamrlik and Spacek are likely to fight bouts of inconsistency brought on by raging old age, and I can see their ice-time decreasing as compared to last season (to maybe keeping both under 20 min/game), though I'd say JM is going easy on Hamrlik at the moment, considering he didn't have a training camp.

With a healthy lineup, our top 6 look like:

1) Markov - He remains the undisputed #1 on this team for the forseeable future. Even with a bad year, he's the best (but he doesn't really have bad years, does he?)

2) Hamrlik - I'd still give #2 to Hamrlik, especially if he plays less than 20:00 per game. We saw last season that he and Spacek were far more reliable when they were not overworked (they did play an absurd amount of time for a bit while MArkov was out, and well, but that was unsustainable.) If hamrlik's ice time is managed, his capacities are that of a very good #3, or decent #2.

3)Subban - I'm willing to put Subban at #3 if he continues to receive 22-25 minutes/game. Again, there will be growing pains and brains cramps, and there will be much awesomeness, but by the end of the year, he'll be ready to be #2 behind Markov.

4) Spacek - With decreased icetime, like Hamrlik, Spacek is a formidable defenseman. Very reliable, sometimes made to look silly, but does many things alot of people do not notice. He and Hamrlik benefit from the emergence of Subban more than anyone else.

5) Gorges - Gorges is the perfect defensive, reliable, hard working, leadership-heavy, likeable #4-5 defenseman. His age will warrant a very nice pay increase, but nevertheless, he's a #4-5 because the absence of an offensive game. Great player though, and any team in the league would love him as a #5.

6) Gill - Exactly what you'd expect from a #6: dependable, has glaring deficiencies (see skating), but brings many intangibles to the table (shot blocking, leadership, pk, experience.)

7)everyone else.

While no other defenseman than MArkov would be a clear cut top 2 by the end of the season, I'd argue we have 5 top 4 defenseman, which I think brings its own set of advantages over the course of a long 82 game season (and long 25-ish game post- season ;) ).

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