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Silver Nuggets: Which is more valuable?

Ton of goaltender injuries so far this season. Can it significantly handicap a team?
Ton of goaltender injuries so far this season. Can it significantly handicap a team?
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Hi folks! With the Senators and Leafs game postponed (so happy they did that), there isn't much Senators news to share, so today's Nuggets will discuss an interesting topic of which there's no real consensus towards. This makes for really interesting discussion so please participate in the poll + comments below if you'd like!

The issue at hand is a certain position player's value to their team. We're going to specify the condition that each player we talk about is an all-star player at their position, with some very recent relevant examples. The question is simple: which do you think is more valuable?

First line centre

Players that fit this bill include Steven Stamkos (who missed most of last year with a broken leg), Pavel Datsyuk (who's age is starting to lead to more injuries), Jason Spezza, etc. Put simply, 60-90 points is very hard to come by in today's league, and although you have to prevent goals, you also have to score them to win games. Putting up even 60 points is hard to come by: last year, only 49 players (20 of them centres) reached that mark, and it's very hard to find a playoff team who didn't have their top-line centre healthy and producing for most of the year.

Of course, there are arguments that a top centre isn't as valuable as the players we'll describe below.

1. Depth - The Toronto Maple Leafs losing Tyler Bozak The Los Angeles Kings losing Anze Kopitar, a huge blow, is lessened by the fact that they have tremendous depth at centre, which allows Mike Richards to toll away on their fourth line. However, if the Senators were to lose Kyle Turris and thus thrust the inexperienced Mika Zibanejad or the aging veteran David Legwand into those minutes may result in a lottery team. The most recent example of Tampa Bay losing Steven Stamkos for most of the year was offset by them having Val Filppula, a key free agent signing, and Tyler Johnson, who had a Calder-worthy year, step up in big ways.

2. Minutes - Most of the 20 centres mentioned above that put up 60+ points played around 19-21 minutes a game. While that is a hefty total, it's less than a top-pair defenseman who plays 6-10 minutes more a game, or a top goaltender, who plays 60 minutes a game for 60-70 games.

First-pair defenseman

Where would the Senators be without Erik Karlsson? We got to see such a reality in the lockout year, and the defensive results weren't pretty. If Anderson/Lehner/Bishop didn't put up a fantastic, yet unsustainable even-strength save percentage, the Senators may have been near the bottom of the standings instead of qualifying for the playoffs and beating the Montreal Canadiens in a series that seems like so long ago. It's going to be interesting to watch Boston play without Zdeno Chara, who is at least going to miss a month and will probably miss more time with a knee injury, as well as Tampa Bay who is without stalwart Victor Hedman for at least a month. The phrase "defense wins championships" must come from somewhere right? Having a minute-eating, possession-driving, tough minutes defenseman goes a long way in scoring goals and preventing them from going into your own net.

Some questions to think about:

1. How much of goal prevention is due to the result of a defender's play in comparison to the goaltender's?

2. Can the injury of a top defender be mitigated with proper defensive depth moreso than thrusting a second-line centre into first line minutes?

Top goaltender

The easiest example that comes to mind is last year's Nashville Predators, who were absolutely atrocious without Pekka Rinne in net. When Rinne is there, providing his stellar goaltending, the Predators look line a playoff team. When he's injured? All we see is a tire fire. Is this coincidence? Is a goaltender inspiring confidence more important than the play of other players due to the fact that they play so much (60+ minutes for 60+ games?).

An obvious counter example would be the fact that the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, and Pittsburgh Penguins have the most wins since the 2004-05 lockout with a combination of Chris Osgood/Jimmy Howard/Jonas Gustavsson, Evgeni Nabokov/Antti Niemi, Marc-Andre Fleury in net (read: not top-flight goaltenders) but instead, have strong forwards and defensemen.

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Obviously there are a ton of arguments and counterpoints here that I haven't touched on at all, so feel free to discuss any thoughts you may have in the comments!

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Sens Links

  • The postponed Sens - Leafs game will be played on Sunday, November 9th at 6pm at the Canadian Tire Centre. Fans who were expected to watch that game on Wednesday are asked to hold onto their tickets. I say we have Sgt. Kevin Vickers drop the puck. There will also be enhanced security measures at the CTC for the next little while so the organization is asking fans to arrive early and be patient! [Ottawa SenatorsSilver SevenSensChirp]
  • In light of Wednesday's tragic events, B_T wrote a touching column on the hockey community and the healing process. I've been moved by the outpouring of support for Ottawa worldwide, and had goosebumps watching the linked anthem that the Pittsburgh Penguins respectfully played on Wednesday night. [Silver SevenPittsburgh Anthem]
  • The Senators, Canadiens, and Maple Leafs will host a coordinated tribute on Saturday to honour those affected by the recent acts of violence in Quebec and Ottawa. [Ottawa CitizenNHL]
  • A nice feature on hometown defensemen Mark Borowiecki from the Citizen this morning. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Mark Stone has been winning Sens fans over ever since he was drafted - junior star, leading goal scorer for Canada's WJC team, playoff assist in his first game. Here's NKB on Stone's play in a Senators uniform thus far. [Silver Seven]
  • A feature on Jason Spezza's new life in Dallas, by Joy Lindsay. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Nichols rips apart a Metro News column on the Senators and Bobby Ryan. [6th Sens]
  • The thing that made me laugh the most this week: Episode Fisher of the Chet Sellers and Luke Peristy podcast. Laughs are always good. [Silver Seven]
  • A close second is Amelia's post today on Mike Hoffman. Really interactive and definitely made me chuckle. Go participate! #DontHassleTheHoff [Silver Seven]
  • The weekly predictions/thoughts column by the nice folks over at Bonk's Mullet! [Bonk's Mullet]
  • The Binghamton Senators played two games this week against the St. John's Icecaps. Jeff has both game recaps, on their .500 week. [Game 1Game 2 from SenShot]
  • The AHL is testing 3-on-3 OT, and the highlights of the second BSens game which feature a Chris Wideman OT winner can be found here. [YouTube]
  • Your weekly report of the local junior teams from Sareon! Always appreciated. [Silver Seven]
  • OHL prospects Nick Paul and Ben Harpur are expected to play for Team OHL in the annual Super Series against junior players from Russia. Harpur was recently injured, but is expected to be back to participate. [SenShot]
  • You all should read NKB's Friday thoughts, which always covers pertinent Sens-related topics for the week. [SIlver Seven]
Sports Links
  • NHL.com's Super 16 feature is amazing and here's this week's column from Corey Masisak. [NHL]
  • Headshots and suspensions are down across the league. Here's a report from Justin Bourne. [The Score]
  • Here's a piece on Wall Street and Sabremetrics, which has applications to hockey [Vice]
  • An interesting study on shootout success percentages. Don't shoot low glove! [BlackBlueGold]
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Thanks for reading!