I missed this yesterday, but Tom Gulitti managed to speak with one of the New Jersey Devils; signings in camp - Henrik Tallinder. It's a good interview, worth your interest as usual. Tallinder discussed what he could do, but the beginning of Gulitti's post piqued my interest:
Ask defenseman Henrik Tallinder what he brings to the Devils and his initial answer is kind of surprising, but accurate.
"Height," Tallinder said.
Yes, Tallinder is is tall at 6-foot-3 (he weighs 215 pounds). But more than than went into the Devils’ decision to sign him to a four-year, $13,5 million contract on July 1. Tallinder admits he’s not flashy, but he tries to be good at all facets of the game.
I remember back on July 1, remarking on the Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov signing, that the Devils got bigger. Now that I think about it, I am left wondering. How much bigger did the Devils get? And how are they bigger; by height, weight, or both? Looking into the matter, this season's team are technically bigger. Find out by how much and more after the jump.
I will readily admit that this may be faulty since I used the listed heights and weights from NHL.com. Maybe some players are listed taller than they are, and who knows how their weight changed from over the summer, much less during the season. Still, I'm keeping consistent and for lack of a better resource, it's what I used.
Let's focus on the defense first. At the end of the 2009-10 regular season, the Devils had 8 defensemen: Paul Martin, Andy Greene, Colin White, Bryce Salvador, Mike Mottau, Mark Fraser, Anssi Salmela, and Martin Skoula. Belive it or not, Skoula was the heaviest defender at 226 pounds. Colin White was the tallest at 76 inches, or 6'4". White was one of four defensemen who were 6'3" or taller on the roster. Skoula, Salvador, and Fraser were the other three - all at a listed 75 inches. Greene was the smallest at 5'11", the only one under 6 feet tall. The average height of this group was 73.75 inches (6'1.75"); and the average weight was 207 pounds.
The Devils have 7 defensemen on the NHL roster based on CapGeek's roster. Greene, White, Salvador, Salmela, and Fraser return; and Volchenkov and Tallinder are added. White remains the tallest on the team; Tallinder replaces Skoula as one of the four defenders over 6'3" in height; Greene is the only one below 6 feet tall; and Volchenkov is the heaviest at 226 pounds. Assuming they all stayed the same height (likely) and weight (unlikely, but go with it), this group averages 74 inches (6'2") and the average weight is 211.43 pounds.
So, the defense is bigger, but not by much. What's more is that this could change in the near future. Should the Devils trade, say, Bryce Salvador and sign Mike Mottau to replace him for example; the average height would drop to 73.54 inches and 207.85 pounds - they would turn out to be smaller than the blueline at the end of last season. Such is the situation the Devils are currently in. Does it matter? I don't know. You can't teach height, and you can always get into better shape. Yet, I don't think Anton Volchenkov being only 6'1" and 226 pounds means as much as how he uses his body on the ice. Being beefy helps, of course, but the having size is a benefit only if you use it. It can be good for throwing hits, getting in people's way, reaching for pucks, and so forth; but having those skills and knowing when to use them is just as important, if not more so, than being big.
The Devils current group of forwards can make a similar boast - they're bigger than the group that ended last season, but not by much. The New Jersey forwards of 2009-10 had an average height of 73.4667 inches (6'1.4667") and an average weight of 206 pounds. The biggest forward in terms of height was Dainius Zubrus at 77 inches (6'5"); and the heaviest was Andrew Peters at 240 pounds. Three forwards were found at under 6 feet tall: Dean McAmmond, Rod Pelley, and Zach Parise. All three are listed as 5'11".
Surely, they got bigger this summer since Dean McAmmond isn't around and the Devils got Jason Arnott, right? Based on the active roster at CapGeek; the Devils forwards average 73.75 inches (6'1.75") and 207 pounds. So, technically, they did; which is impressive since they bought out Peters and Rob Niedermayer went on to Buffalo. Yet, before you start bragging about how much bigger the Devils are, do note that it's not by much. Of course, whatever impending moves are made to get the Devils under the cap can change this for the smaller.
But again, how important is size for forward? The Devils' best all-around forward is Zach Parise; and he is one of the smallest guys on the team at a listed 5'11" and 190 pounds. Not being big hasn't hurt him. The same can be said for Vladimir Zharkov, who isn't big at 6'1" and 200 pounds, yet he held his own on a fourth line (among other lines) in moving the puck up ice well. Sure, some players use their size well, like Zubrus, but I don't think it's really a strength or something to boast in general.
The 2010-11 New Jersey Devils are technically bigger than last year's team. Based on averages, the increases aren't by much. And that may not even last after Lou makes the necessary moves to get the team compliant with the salary cap. More to the point, I'm not so certain whether to call the team's size a strength. Perhaps you feel differently. Perhaps you know something I don't. Perhaps you have a different opinion on the Devils' size. Please leave your thoughts on this issue in the comments. Thanks for reading.