Stay-at-home defensemen don’t get a lot of attention, and in the NHL they certainly don’t win any Norris trophies. A year might pass between goals credited to them, but their game isn’t about scoring goals, it is about preventing them. Solid stay-at-home defensemen contribute the kind of dependability and intimidation useful to any roster.
Here are five such defenders available at the upcoming draft. This international selection includes players from Switzerland, Sweden, Russian, Canada and Slovakia.
This Swiss-born defender has almost no offensive upside but he brings a huge, shutdown frame of 6’3″, 220 lb to the conversation and he excels one on one.
Dennis Schellenberg of The Scouting Factory says that Siegenthaler is “a solid defender with good size and strength who is able to shut down opponents. He uses his stick very well to interrupt plays and is excellent in preventing forwards from scoring on rebounds. Reads and understands the game well. His size and strength allow him to get involved physically though could use his body more often to make plays.”
Depending on your perspective, Siegenthaler may represent the best Swiss-born prospect in the draft after Timo Meier.
This big-bodied Russian defender spent last season as a semi-regular playing in the KHL. About him, Hockey’ s Future says he’s “a big defenseman with some good mobility, Gavrikov can throw the body around and play with some good edge and grit. He plays more of a defensive style and isn’t a top contributor in the offensive zone, but is good in killing penalties and can play in different situations” although plenty of questions persist about his potential ability to compete in the NHL.
Calrsson is a massive Swedish blue liner who doesn’t handle the puck too much but who is climbing up the charts. In several scouting rankings, Carlsson has become a first-round pick.
Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting, says Carlsson “plays a smart, cool, mature game and uses his size without being overly aggressive. [He is] a smart player who can both pass or play the puck out of danger.”
Ryan Pilon plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. THW’s Ryan Pike describes him as a defensively responsible player who’s “very effective at defending the rush, particularly in using his size and deceptive speed to angle players towards the side boards. He’s also a quietly strong offensive presence, with an underrated shot and very effective head-man pass that’s been a useful tool in Brandon’s transition game.”
[See also: 5 Draft Risers from the Memorial Cup]
At 6’3″, 201 lbs, there is very little to dislike about Slovakian prospect Christian Jaros (unless you’re Max Domi, above). He does many of the things well that NHL teams want to see done well. He uses his size to his advantage; he actively plays the body; he carries the puck well and makes crisp passes; he has a high compete level; he plays with poise and confidence; and he can hit.
As Draftsite’s Bill Placzek writes, “It is an unpleasant experience to meet [Jaros] in front or along the wall. He won’t use his stick to take the puck away – he will take you off the puck.”
Our Draft Guide
For a deeper look at 150 prospects including these five players, check out The Next Ones: NHL 2015 Draft Prospect Guide, the inaugural draft guide written by The Hockey Writers draft team, available now for the Kindle and for all other ereader formats.