I think it’s high time we saw the NHL create a new award. Let’s tentatively call it the Nalder, awarded to the NHL’s best rookie defenseman. In 66 years of giving the Calder to the league’s top rookie, only ten defensemen have won the award, most recently to Buffalo’s Tyler Myers. A defenseman basically only wins the trophy when there are no better options at forward or in goal. I mean, you’d either have to throw up like 50 points and end up top ten in defensemen scoring in the league or have very little competition from your forward and goaltending compatriots. In other words, to win the award as a defenseman you have to be special or downright fortunate.


The thing is that defensemen are rarely ready enough to step in and produce big numbers right away (or at least that used to be the case). Now we are seeing a steady influx of new exciting young talent on the blueline, such that year after year we see 40-point performances from rookie defensemen that don’t even make you blink. This has to be awarded or even acknowledged somehow.


Not convinced? Yeah maybe not. I’m thinking the Nalder makes a terrible trophy name. Let’s call it the Orr Trophy. Isn’t it high time we gave this guy his own trophy? It’s definitely time to recognize these rookie defensemen for their exploits and there’s no one better to represent that than Orr.


Consider that Montreal’s PK Subban and Washington’s John Carlson are not finalists for the Calder despite the fact they’ve been their teams’ best defenseman over the course of the full season. With the Orr Trophy we wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting about them. We could have our cake and eat it too. What a beautiful concept! There’s only one problem though; who wins it?


I have Carlson and Subban as the serious front runners for this trophy. Granted, St. Louis’s Kevin Shattenkirk was the rookie defenseman scoring leader this season, but he got traded halfway through. Much like my vote for anything else, you can’t win a “best of” trophy if you get traded during the season. If you were the best your team had, they wouldn’t trade you, period. (This is the reason why I have major beef with Thornton’s Hart Trophy win in 2005-06, but that’s another story entirely.)


I know that poolies may not be totally concerned with who wins my made up trophy, at least not yet but I’m going to hand it out anyway. Hopefully this will help you glean some insight for your fantasy team and since this is a made up trophy anyway, I can gear this cage match towards fantasy value.


So here goes, Subban vs. Carlson for the Orr Trophy and likely a place on your fantasy squad.


Subban and Carlson are very interesting to compare because they both have a very similar track record going back to their final seasons of junior hockey in 2008-09 where they both were stars in the OHL. In fact, that year they both tallied 76 points.


Scoring has come easy for these two at every level. Following their final OHL seasons they made their pro debuts in the AHL where they both made the AHL All-Rookie Team, lighting up the stat sheet. Carlson scored 39 points in 44 games for Hershey, earning a late season call-up with the Capitals, while Subban scored 53 points in 77 games for Hamilton, earning a late call-up of his own to play with the Canadiens. Both would end up sticking with the big club for playoffs where Subban’s Canadiens upset Carlson’s Capitals in round one, striking an blow in this battle.


Both Subban and Carlson are international stars as well, having won World Junior gold for their respective countries and even making the All-Tournament teams. PK did so with Canada in ’08 and again in ’09 while Carlson, who is a year younger, did so in ’10.


You really can’t give either one an edge in draft pedigree either. Carlson was a late first round pick (27th) for the Caps back in ’08 while Subban was a mid-second rounder (43rd) for the Habs in ’07.


This season was no different. Subban outscored Carlson by a mere point so seemingly nothing separates the two. We’ll have to look deeper at their standard 6x4 rotisserie value to see if we can’t find a winner.
























It becomes obvious in a big hurry that we have a clear winner. SOG clearly favours Subban, so do PIM and PPP. With regards to SOG this has a lot to do with style. Carlson has a good shot but he’s much more of a puck mover. He doesn’t have the big shot that Subban does and he doesn’t need to use it as much with the snipers he plays with. So that gives Subban an edge that he’ll likely always have. In general that will also lead to more goals where he had an edge this season but it’s worth noting that he hasn’t historically held an edge here, which is why I haven’t indicated it as a clear win for Subban.


Subban has however always been a big winner in the PIM department at every level and I’d expect that to continue. It’s not that Carlson is shy when it comes to physical contact but he’s a lot smarter about it. I could see him eventually developing a Nik Lidstrom style of positioning where he’s always in the right place and never has to play the body. He’d do himself a lot of favours if he did.


The PPP difference is largely a product of opportunity. Subban played almost a minute more on the powerplay each game than Carlson did. He also played on a much better powerplay as the Capitals were inexplicably mediocre on the powerplay this season. I’d expect this to even up a little bit over time but with Carlson having Mike Green in the way and developing into an excellent shutdown defenseman he could be held back a bit.


I prefer Subban for points only pools because I think he’s more aggressive offensively and has a longer leash. He’s seeing more powerplay minutes and by shooting and scoring more goals he has more room to manoeuvre upward and score more assists. Carlson will jump into the rush but not the way Subban does.


Carlson did have a major edge in plus/minus this season and I’d suspect he always has an edge in this category because he plays a more sound defensive game on a much better team. Subban won’t always be a minus player but it could be a long time before he gets out of the red.


All in all it’s clear that Subban has a rotisserie edge because he touches the peripheral categories a lot heavier. Carlson is still a very good option but he gets blown out of the water by Subban’s powerful peripheral punch. Give PK the nod and you won’t regret it!


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Comments (18)add comment

derek said:

Carlson Of course Carlson's points went up at the end....Green's tampon fell out.
April 22, 2011
Votes: +1

derek said:

Good stuff Good stuff Steve...Subban is a good young player and even though I hate the SOB when he plays the Pens, he is a breath of fresh air to the game of hockey. I love his cockiness and swagger.
April 22, 2011
Votes: +2

paul said:

... no love for the rangers rookies eh ?

no matter

top 5 defensive team with 2 starting rookies tells me all I need to know smilies/smiley.gif

don't overlook the NYR the Hockey News does all the time
April 22, 2011
Votes: -1

Thieving Giraffe said:

Thieving Giraffe
... Have to disagree with this. If you can't win a "best of" as a defenseman while getting traded, can you win it getting benched for five games because the team just can't put up with your defensive lapses anymore? Not the least example being his bad line change tonight as the Bruins scored an overtime winner to score the series going back to Boston. Subban benefits from the same "Montreal phenom" hype that enabled Jose Theodore to win the Hart way back when. A defenseman is not best of anything when he has the third worst +/- on the team. Meanwhile Shattenkirk was the best offensive rookie defenseman in the league, and Carlson the best all-around.

Real life? I'll take Carlson in a heartbeat. Fantasy? Probably Shattenkirk, but I think that in a few years we'll be talking about Carlson in an entirely different (and more flattering) offensive light.
April 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Loren Stachak said:

Thank god... I have both of these guys in my dynasty league!
April 21, 2011
Votes: +0

D M said:

Shattenkirk! Points per 20 minutes of ice time:

Shattenkirk: 0.602
Fowler: 0.476
Subban: 0.443
Carlson: 0.399

Points per 20 minutes even-strength ice time:

Shattenkirk: 0.472
Carlson: 0.416
Subban: 0.312
Fowler: 0.247

Despite being the only one NOT on a playoff team, Shattenkirk had the second highest plus-minus of the bunch, behind only Carlson.

Shattenkirk forever!
April 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Chewd said:

Re: Shattenkirk Your argument is flawed. "Much like my vote for anything else, you can’t win a “best of” trophy if you get traded during the season. If you were the best your team had, they wouldn’t trade you, period." Gretzky got traded ...
April 21, 2011
Votes: +0

donions said:

PK Im not convinced 1 bit that Carlson is more valuable in real hockey. P.K plays a shutdown role as well, plays more physical, generates offense all by himself, and has the other teams star players going after him.
Carlson....well hes boring haha. Thats not an insult to him but thats just his style.

P.K in real and fantasy hockey. His potential is as high as any d-man to come along in a looong while.

(enough about that random +/- stat, it isnt as telling as it looks)
April 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Repent Tokyo said:

special i think to win any nhl award, you have to be special. why dilute the awards by rewarding less impressive rookie campaigns based on position? Only 10 d-men have won the Calder because, well, it's really hard to play well as a rookie d-man.
April 21, 2011
Votes: +0

D M said:

Carlson! If your league counts PIMs, this isn't even close. Subban wins. If not, I think Carlson blows him out of the water.

Subban: 38 points, -8 (third worst on Montreal), benched for poor defense (not a fantasy category, but ice time matters!).
Carlson: 37 points, +21 (fourth best in D.C.), played all 82 games.


Personally, I'd prefer Shattenkirk to either -- more points in fewer games on terrible teams, while posting a better +/- than Subban.
April 21, 2011
Votes: +0

Jocular Hockey Manager said:

Carlson had a nice finish! Wow, Carlson had a strong finish! His points were rather boring up until that last month! Very impressive.

These two young guys are both players Fantasy Poolies would be WISE to take a chance on as foundation pieces for their teams heading forward. I feel WAY better about them than a Grabner.
April 20, 2011
Votes: +0

Larry said:

... the fantasy game is greatly effected by the real game- continued bad/risky plays by Subban gets him on the bench-which will effect his fantasy value. I love Subbans enthousiasm, and despite the holes in his game I think he will surpass Carlson in most measures aslong as Carlson is #2 behind Green.
April 20, 2011
Votes: +0

steve laidlaw said:

... I'll quote myself, since I'm vain like that. "Since this is a made up trophy anyway, I can gear this cage match towards fantasy value." This is a fantasy hockey website, where fantasy comes first so there would be no point for me to discuss actual NHL value. This is definitely a fantasy hockey article but I felt generating some discussion about the "Orr Trophy" would be an interesting lead in to the subject.
April 20, 2011
Votes: +0

bogans said:

... I had the same issue with this article, but I would venture to say that in real NHL its Carlson by a wide margin being that PK takes sooo many undisciplined penalties and puts his team down a man at inopportune times. In addition, the opportunities on the PP Unit speak to the fact that Carlson has a lot more in his game that he has not shown to this point and could out point or keep up with Subban if/when that evens itself out. If he brings a similar point production, less bad penalties, and a MUCH more sound deensive game, I would venture to say give me half of Carlson before a full Subban.
April 20, 2011
Votes: +0

David said:

I thought it was going to be about nhl value I agree with what pengwin wrote.
April 20, 2011
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

~~~ What is the intention of this piece?
NHL comparsion... or Fantasy comparison?

By NHL-value: Carlson... by a margin margin.
By Fantasy-value: PK... by a big margin.

The opening of this article suggests a rookie NHL award, which would lead to a discussion about real NHL value. The closing statement mentions Subban having a rotisserie edge.

There's some good stuff in here - but I feel like the bus left the route and delivered me to the wrong location at the end.
April 20, 2011
Votes: +0

DuklaNation said:

... These are my picks for the top rookie this season (a tie). Forwards with 50ish pts is good but not as valuable to a team as big minutes d-men that play in all situations. The most impressive rookie was Hall hands down IMO although he didnt put up the necessary production.

AP is not rookie as played too many games over last 2 seasons. It was close though.
April 20, 2011
Votes: +0

shortcuttomoncton said:

Piets? Is Pietrangelo still a rookie? He's an interesting mix between these two....
April 20, 2011
Votes: +1
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