Poaching the Penguins D

Danny Gray
June 20 2012 11:06AM

I know at times it seemed like Fleury was playing for the other team, but this is a bit much-AP

As per everyone in the Hockey Universe Ray Shero has stated that the Penguins are not looking at moving Jordan Staal right now, but are looking to move a defenseman. The Leafs are in the market for a Top 4 D, is there anyone on the Penguins the Leafs should consider poaching? 

The Leafs need a D capable of playing tough minutes and still moving the puck in the right direction, or at least keeping it out of their own end. The Penguins have a few guys like that.
 
Take a look at the Penguins Player usage chart from last season: 
 

Whattya got there, numbers?

If you’re new to these or forgot how to read them allow Cam to explain:  

To read the chart, the basic thing to note is the circles. Blue circles represent players with positive Corsi, our name for a shot differential statistic that acts as a proxy for team puck possession when a player is on the ice. White circles represent negative Corsi, and the size of the circle indicates to what degree.
The x-axis (horizontal) indicates offensive zone start rate, meaning that the further a player is to the right, the more optimized his minutes are for offensive usage. The y-axis (vertical) is to place a player's quality of competition, the higher the better.
Looking at the Pens D we can see that Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, and Zbynek Michalek saw the toughest competition. Letang and Martin were both positive Corsi players while Oprik and Michalek were negative. However Orpik and Martin saw tougher competition and few ozone starts, for the most part. 
 
In his breakdown Robert noted that:
“On defense the 2nd pairing of Kris Letang and Paul Martin were far more effective playing with Malkin and company than top shutdown unit Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek were struggling against top opponents. While late-blooming AHLer Derek Engelland’s improved discipline was encouraging, their most effective depth defensemen were Matt Niskanen and Ben Lovejoy in his 34-game stint.  Fans also got an encouraging but highly-sheltered 18-game look at 20-year-old Simon Despres.”
 
My number one choice would be Paul Martin, he saw tough minutes and did not get slaughtered, he also managed to put up 25 points. He’s also American, so Burke obviously loves him. The downside is that he is 31 years old and has a $5 Million cap-hit until 2015. That being said if the Leafs can move out some of the dead weight on defense he would be a player I’d like to see paired with either Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner or John-Michael Liles. 
 
If we’re looking at cheaper options Orpik, Lovejoy, and Niskanen are all decent. However they don’t offer much of a guaranteed improvement over players currently on the Leafs. I think Martin could be a fit with the Leafs if they can find a way to rid themselves of Schenn and Komisarek. Otherwise he would simply be too expensive. 

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Danny once met Doug Gilmour and it changed his life. Had he met Bret Hart the same day he would not have been able to handle it. He can be found on Twitter @ACatNamedFelix.
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