Which New Jersey Devils Defensemen are Worth the Money?

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 27: Marek Zidlicky #2 and Steve Bernier #18 of the New Jersey Devils combine to flip Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the Prudential Center on March 27, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Last week I wrote about what each forward is worth to the New Jersey Devils. So this week I figured I would look at the Devils' defensemen. This one is a little trickier because offense is easy to measure: goals, assists, points, shots. However, defense is much tougher to measure. I personally don't trust the plus-minus statistic, so I didn't use it as a defensive measure. The fancier defensive statistics, fenwick and corsi, leave me with a mixed feeling on how to interpret it when I divide it with salary; therefore, I left them out.

I believe defensemen are paid for a wider variety of skills than their offensive teammates. This makes it harder to discern what Lou is paying each of his defensemen to do. While forwards are paid to score, defensemen are paid to block shots, bring a physical element, and limit opposing team's scoring chances. They are also depended on to contribute on offense when playing the point. Any guesses as to which Devils defenseman is the best value for the Devils?

Just as I did last week, I used a player's salary, not cap hit. I also chose not to include Matt Taormina because he played fewer than 30 games at the time I am writing this. I also used Marek Zidlicky's salary the Devils will be paying and the stats he accrued with the Devils.

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The highest paid Defenseman on the Devils is Anton Volchenkov with a salary of $4.25 million this season. Volchenkov is not known for his scoring and likewise carries a very high cost per point as I believe he is paid to be a shutdown defenseman. If you look at Volchenkov's cost per shot blocked, it is fairly low for carrying the largest contract. Volchenkov does carry a high cost per PIM because he does not take a whole lot of them. I'm going to compare Volchenkov to Zidlicky because they both command over $4 million for a full season. Zidlicky costs more per shot and per penalty minute. However, Zidlicky is the better deal when you take into account offensive production from a defenseman.

Next up are the two defensemen that make between $2.5 and $3 million, Andy Greene and Bryce Salvador. Comparing these two makes sense because they both chip in somewhat on offense and get paid mainly for being shutdown defensemen. Greene is about 250K less per point than Salvador. Greene is also a better deal when it comes to shots. Salvador is worth more per hit and per block.

Then I compared rookie sensation Adam Larsson and O.K. defenseman Mark Fayne. I compared them because they both make under $1 million this season. Mark Fayne is the better deal in every category. This is because Fayne makes almost half of what Larsson makes. Considering Larsson makes significantly more than Fayne(60% more), he is still a good deal per point, hit, and block.

What this analysis doesn't take into account is how good at defense each player is. Unfortunately statistics can't account for pucking moving ability and agility and other aspects needed for being a defenseman. Players should be a better defenseman if they block more shots and have more hits. However, they could do all of this and still get scored on. Again, this is because there is not a solid statistic for defensive performance. What do you think Lou pays his defensemen for? If you were doing this, what would you include?

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