Fun With Numbers, Part VI: The Defensemen

It should hardly be news to anyone reading this that things don’t always work out the way you plan. As I finish up my series of applying Ken Campbell’s “Campbellnomics” to the top contenders for the Hobey Baker Award (among skaters), it’s worked out a little differently than I planned.

This was originally supposed to be a five-part series, looking at five skaters each each of the “Big Four” conferences and five from Atlantic Hoeky and the CHA. Good idea, I think, if a bit time-consuming to go through 25 players’ game-by-game performances and look at when they scored their points. But as it turned out, the idea got a bit of tweaking, some necessary, and some, well…

The first big change was when I decided to look at defensemen separately from forwards, adding what would be five players to the list. No big deal, although it turned a five-part series into six. The night I decided to do that, I approached Boston University SID Brian Kelley and asked his opinion on which of the Terriers’ offensive defensemen I should include, Colby Cohen or Kevin Shattenkirk.

That question eventually became moot, though, as I decided to go beyond my five-player cutoff in the CCHA and WCHA, adding Miami’s Carter Camper and Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion to my list. If I could decide it was too close to cut those players off, then why not include both Shattenkirk and Cohen?

Finally, I had intended to get all of this done before Friday’s games, so that all the players would be on as even a playing field as posisble.

Yeah, that didn’t quite work out. As I sat down to total the Campbellnomics points for the six defensement on my list, Friday night’s games had been played. So, what to do? Well, as it turns out, five of the six defensemen went without a Campbellnomics point on Friday, and the one who did score didn’t affect his standing. So we’ll go with their pre-Friday averages, make it all nice and even.

We start with the defenseman who got me started on all this, Wisconsin’s Brendan Smith. Smith is the nation’s top scoring defenseman with 12 goals and 21 assists in 27 games, ranking 18th in the nation overall in scoring average with 1.22 PPG. Applying the Campbellnomics system, he checks in with 20.5 Campbellnomics points, giving him an average of .79 CPPG. It’s worth noting that while defensemen’s generally lower goal totals figure to hurt in a system that values goals twice as much as assists, Smith has a higher Campbellnomics average than any of the three Wisconsin forwards I looked at on Friday: Derek Stepan, Michael Davies and Blake Geoffrion.

On the other side of the country, New Hampshire sophomore Blake Kessel is also putting up some big numbers for the Wildcats, averaging 1.11 points per game on six goals and 24 assists in 27 games for the Wildcats. Applying the Campbellnomics system, Kessel checks in with a total of 19 points, just behind Smith, with an average of .73 CPPG (as of Friday morning).

Checking in right behind Smith and Kessel on the defensemen scoring list is Yale’s Thomas Dignard, who has five goals and 15 assists in 19 games for an average of 1.05 points per game. However, Dignard’s numbers take a stunning drop in Campbellnomics, with a total of just 6.5 Campbellnomics points and an average of .36 CPPG.

Now, we’re skipping three players to get to our next two, and I’ll explain that. Two are Canisius’ Carl Hudson and Bemidji State’s Brad Hunt, and I think history shows that it’s very tough for defensemen and forwards to get good Hobey buzz outside the Big Four conferences. The third is Maine’s Will O’Neill. The thing about O’Neill is that he hasn’t gathered much buzz on the national stage yet, and it’s also VERY clear who the Black Bears’ Hobey candidate is. So for the moment, we’ll skip O’Neill.

That brings us to the two BU defensemen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen. Cohen, of course, has the Campbellnomics goal of all Campbellnomics goals on his resumé, the OT goal in the NCAA title game last season, and has more goals than assists this season, with 12 goals and 10 assists to his credit for an average of .88 PPG, ranking seventh among defensemen. Meanwhile, Shattenkirk has four goals and 18 assists this season, tying for 11th among defensemen with .81 PPG. When the Campbellnomics system is applied, though, roles are reversed, as Shattenkirk has a total of 15 Campbellnomics point through 26 games (.58 CPPG), and Cohen totals 12 Campbellnomics points in his 24 games (.50 CPPG). For what it’s worth, Cohen’s assist on Ross Gaudet’s tying goal in last night’s BU win over Maine gives him another point and ups his average to .52 CPPG, but his standing doesn’t change, so we’ll stick with .50 for now.

Finally, early on in the season, UMass-Lowell’s Nick Schaus got a bit of Hobey buzz during the Rvier Hawks’ hot start, and while he’s faded a bit, he has just as many points as Shattenkirk. That said, however, Campbellnomics isn’t nearly as kind to Schaus, awarding him a total of 7.5 points, for an average of .29 CPPG.

So, that gives us a leaderboard as follows:

Brendan Smith, Wisconsin: .79 CPPG

Blake Kessel, New Hampshire: .73 CPPG

Kevin Shattenkirk, Boston University: .58 CPPG

Colby Cohen, Boston University: .50 CPPG

Thomas Dignard, Yale: .36 CPPG

Nick Schaus, UMass-Lowell: .29 CPPG

And, overall…

Player School CPPG Rank National Scoring Rank
Chase Polacek RPI 1.10 1 6
Corey Tropp Michigan State 1.03 2 19
Casey Wellman UMass 1.02 3 15
Blake Gallagher Cornell .98 4 14
Bobby Butler UNH .91 5 3t
Broc Little Yale .87 6 33
Tommy Wingels Miami .85 7 61t
Rhett Rakhshani Denver .82 8 16
Jacques Lamoureux Air Force .80 9 32
Brendan Smith Wisconsin .79 10 18
James Marcou UMass .78 11 3t
Austin Smith Colgate .78 12 30
Blake Kessel UNH .73 13 41
Matt Read Bemidji State .73 14 24
Mario Valery-Trabucco Union .71 15t 12
Cory Conacher Canisius .71 15t 1
Justin Fontaine Minn.-Duluth .71 15t 15
Gustav Nyquist Maine .69 18 2
Blake Geoffrion Wisconsin .65 19 24t
Mark Olver Northern Michigan .64 20 17
Carter Camper Miami .63 21 61t
Brian Gibbons Boston College .62 22 11
Kevin Shattenkirk Boston University .58 23 100+
Dave Jarman Sacred Heart .57 24 7
Jack Connolly Minn.-Duluth .55 25 10
Michael Davies Wisconsin .54 26 9
Derek Stepan Wisconsin .52 27 23
Colby Cohen Boston University .50 28 100
Carl Hagelin Michigan .50 29 49
Zac Dalpe Ohio State .46 30 46t
Thomas Dignard Yale .36 31 50
Nick Schaus UMass-Lowell .29 32 100+

You’ll note that Schaus and Shattenkirk’s national scoring rank listed as “100+,” I’m using for my stats, and only the top 100 scorers in the nation are ranked.

In any event, I think I’ve given you all some food for thought as we go through the last couple of months of the season. I’ll check on this one more time, after the Hobey Finalists are announced.

All I can say is, 10 players will be much more manageable than 32.