Carolina Hurricanes Mid Season Grades: Defense

The Carolina Hurricanes have completed 41 games so far this season and have earned an unremarkable 29 points, good for last place in the NHL.  Obviously, the team grade would have to be a resounding "F", but some players have performed better than others and everyone shouldn't be labeled with the same grade. 

Instead of doing a player by player analysis and grade like we did here during the offseason, I'm going to provide a brief summary for each player and let you, our readers comment on and vote for whomever you think is the top performer for each position.

Let's start off with the defense:

Andrew Alberts:  Alberts has pretty much been what he was advertised to be, a stay at home defenseman who loves to get physical.  He leads the team with 128 hits and is currently ranked ninth in the NHL with that stat.  He also has the best plus/minus of anyone on the defense, (-1).  On the negative, he can be slow at times, does not provide much offense, and he needs help getting the puck out of the zone.

Aaron Ward:  Ward has blocked some shots and brought some physicality on occasion but for the most part has been a huge disappointment.  He has the worst plus/minus of the defense, (-17), has taken a ton of penalties, and at times has been relagated to minimal minutes.

Jay Harrison:  Harrison made the team as the seventh defenseman, but has played more than expected due to a variety of injuries to other players.  He tries hard but has not been consistent enough so far to stay at the NHL level.

Joe Corvo:  Corvo was the minute king before he was injured.  He usually plays solid defense and brings a lot to the offense.  But under pressure, he will still make, (sometimes major) mistakes and can be forced into making bad passes in his own end. (-10)

Joni Pitkanen:  Pitkanen is not only the team leader in time on the ice, he is also currently number one in the league with average ice time per game played.  He has more points than anyone else on defense, (as well as several forwards), and has been critical to the team in breaking the puck out of the zone.  But he has taken untimely penalties at times and has a bad plus/minus of (-13). 

Niclas Wallin:  Wallin can be a good, physical defender and is usually reliable on the penalty kill.  He can also be slow at times and brings little or no help to the offense. (-5)

Tim Gleason:  Gleason has been a very good shut down option and has had the best offensive season of his NHL career so far.  (5 goals scored).  He is physical, lands good, solid hits on occasion, and will stand up for teammates.  He can still be prone to making bad passes or mistakes in his own end, although he has improved on that this season,  (-4).  He is not as good as skating the puck out of his zone like Pitkanen, but his break out passing has improved.

(Brett Carson and Bryan Rodney, incomplete)

Now it's your turn.  What do you think of each of the defensemen and who was the best so far this season?

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