Unless you’ve been away for a couple of months, the legend of Justin Schultz has washed over you and the Schultz-mania that will sweep our city the moment the lockout ends is something you’re anticipating. What about the rest of the OKC defense? Are they progressing? Which of these young men is emerging as an NHL option, and who is getting left behind?
ROLE AND EXPECTED PLUS MINUS
(Photo courtesy Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved. Check out the women behind the OKC bench. They seem to be anticipating the Teubert blow).
Coach Todd Nelson seems to have decided on his pairings and pecking order. The defense most often looks like this these days in OKC:
- Martin Marincin-Justin Schultz
- Taylor Fedun-Colten Teubert
- Alex Plante-one of several
The second pairing waivers from time to time, but from my observation that’s the group. Marincin-Schultz most often play with the Hall line, so I’d hesitate to suggest they are playing the tough minutes, but they appear to be out against the other team’s best (which makes sense) so they do get extra points for it.
The Barons are 42-35 (+7) at even strength over the first 20 games of the season. If we assume that each pairing plays equal minutes (which is untrue), the "expected" plus minus for each defenseman would be +2.3; the Barons defense varies wildly in that department:
- Justin Schultz 20gp, +14
- Martin Marincin 18gp, +12
- Taylor Fedun 18gp, E
- Colten Teubert 18gp, E
- Jordan Henry 10gp, E
- Dan Ringwald 7gp, E
- Brandon Davidson, 6gp, E
- Teigan Zahn, 5gp, E
- Alex Plante, 16gp, -4
The Schultz plus minus number is the best on the Barons (and in the entire AHL), Plante’s is team worst. The top two plus minus numbers are clearly "wind-aided" from playing with the big line, credit to the pairing they are clearly contributing to the success (Schultz, incredibly, remains the league leader in points and we’re well into the season).
WHAT’S THE CALLUP ORDER?
I don’t think much has changed in that department since the beginning of the year. My guess would be:
- Justin Schultz (duh)
- Colten Teubert
- Taylor Fedun
- Martin Marincin
- Alex Plante
I guess that’s the one thing we can take from the season’s first two games (aside from the dominance of the top pairing). Alex Plante–about 200 games into his pro career–appears to be drowning in injuries and lack of mobility. He won NHL games played bragging rights over father Cam 10 to 2, but those concussions have taken their toll.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Schultz was always going to the NHL the moment the lockout ended, but I don’t think Marincin gets a call this season (aside from a cup of coffee) if they play big league hockey. I do believe Colten Teubert is clearly ahead of Alex Plante now in the "Andy Sutton’s done" sweepstakes and that Taylor Fedun has entered the conversation.
There’s a long way to go for all of these kids, save Schultz and Plante who appear to be going in opposite directions. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Its all on the OKC blue this season.