One positive thing the Canes have (or "had" I should say at this point) was the emergence of Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason as a shutdown defense pairing. When these two were paired together, they took over 60% of their draws in their own zone, were constantly matched up against the opposing team's top lines and had 50% of the team's scoring chances go in the Canes favor. That pairing has since been split up with Allen being regulated to third pairing minutes (for whatever reason) but the Canes are going to have a big decision coming up within the next year as both players contracts are expiring and they might be forced to keep one or the other. Both are having great seasons and could have solid trade value in a few months for a team looking for a shutdown defenseman but the idea of losing these two is very troubling when you consider how big of a role they play.
That's when it hit me. Just how much is the going rate for a shutdown defenseman in this league? Even better, just how hard is it to replace a shutdown defenseman? I'm talking about guys who are more one-dimensional because guys like Drew Doughty, Nicklas Lidstrom, Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara are signed to large contracts due to their great play at both ends, but what about a guy who is more of a defensive stud who contributes little offense? That description fits Allen and Gleason to a T and it made me think that replacing these two may not be as big of a hassle.
Whenever I think of the Gleason/Allen situation, I'm reminded of when Mike Komisarek was set to become a free agent after the 2008-09 season and appeared to have suitors all over the league looking to ink him to a big deal. However, a hockey mind that respect mentioned that he would not pay Komisarek big money because he believed that a stay-at-home defenseman like him could be found in other places for half the cost. An alternative option was Greg Zanon. Komisarek was a stud that year with -1.1 corsi rel. with a 39.8% OZone rate while Zanon had a worse -11.7 corsi rel with 42% of his draws coming in the offensive zone. Komisarek signed with the Leafs to a contract worth $4.5 mil per season while Zanon signed with the Minnesota Wild for about half that. Since then, Zanon has continued to play in a shutdown role for the Wild while Komisarek was hurt for the majority of the first year of his contract and was used in a lesser role in the second year. The Wild signed Zanon to play the same role as Komisarek was supposed to play on the Leafs for half of the cost. What is even more interesting is that the Leafs had guys on cheap contracts like Keith Aulie, Luke Schenn and Carl Gunnarsson play the shutdown role and make Komisarek expandable, making his contract look like an albatross.
Is this just a one time thing or are other teams replacing their highly-touted shutdown defensemen for less money? What does this mean concerning the future of Allen and Gleason? We'll explore things further after the jump.no comments