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dtsdlaw

What to do with all the LHDs?

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With 17 more games left (as of this post), I was just thinking that maybe its a good thing Fowler and Lindholm are on the shelf right now.  No, not just to help with the tanking for lottery odds. I think it's a good thing that will allow the organization to get a good look at all of our left-shot defensive prospects over the final few weeks so they can make some decisions about the future.

We have too many left-shot D-men, and it sure seems like some decisions need to be made in the very near future about who is going to be a part of this team long-term. Here's the rundown of left-shot D-men this team will own the rights to heading into summer:

Lindholm - 26 years old, 6'3", 210lbs, signed through the 2021-22 season.

Fowler - 28, 6'2", 205lbs, signed through the 2025-26 season with a limited 4-team trade clause.

Larsson - turns 23 in April, 6'2", 195lbs, RFA (no arb rights), minimum Qualifying Offer will be $874,125.

Guhle - turns 23 in July, RFA (no arb rights), QO = $735K

Djoos - turns 26 in August, RFA (has arbitration rights), QO = $1.25M

Mahura - turns 22 in May, signed through 2020-21, will not have arb rights in 2021.

Benoit - turns 22 in September, signed through 2021-22.

That's a lot of organizational depth right there on the left side of the defense (and I didn't even include Jackson Lacombe or Henry Thrun, who were both picked in 2019). But what should the Ducks do with it? They can't ALL play, right?

Unless there's a major shake-up, the assumption is that Fowler and Lindholm are here for the long-haul (or at least for the next two seasons until Lindholm's contract is up). So that basically leaves one left-D spot open for the next couple of seasons beyond this one. GMBM has also typically wanted to see his young D-men making a major push for NHL ice time by age 22, with the only real exception being Manson who was 23 when he cracked the Ducks lineup during the 2014-15 season (although he was in college until Spring 2014). So given the ages of Larsson, Guhle, Djoos, Mahura and Benoit, it would seem that the team is closing in on "put up or shut up" time for nearly all of those guys. All of them will be expansion draft eligible too, having completed at least 3 professional seasons by the time the ED rolls around in June 2021 (although so far only Larsson is on pace to meet the 40g/70g minimum exposure requirements).

I'm guessing these boards are going to slow down even more as the team sucks its way to a lottery pick over the final few weeks of the season, but I'm genuinely curious to see what everyone's thoughts are here as we head towards what could be a very active June for GMBM. Any of these guys you are absolutely opposed to trading? Any guys you think the team should absolutely move on from? Does the upcoming ED factor into the strategy? Lots of thoughtful armchair GMs here, so please post your ideas.

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Assume Fowler can play RHD since he has in the past. Would join Manson and Gubranson then. Any of the others listed play RHD if necessary?

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19 minutes ago, dukitup said:

Assume Fowler can play RHD since he has in the past. Would join Manson and Gubranson then. Any of the others listed play RHD if necessary?

He has played there, but I don't think he's been very good at it. I also think the Gudbranson trade indicates that GMBM didn't think he was very good at it either. He seems to really struggle defending in his own zone on his off side. He's not getting the body and stick position he needs to when he's over on the opposite side. 

Gorb brings up a valid point that Pronger and Beauchemin logged regular time on the right side throughout their tenures here, and Despres also played the right side opposite Fowler during the 2015 playoffs. But those guys are all big and strong D-men who are able to body-up on opponents and move the puck on their backhand. From what I've seen, physicality and strength helps a lot when you play on your off-side, and that's just not Fowler's game. Nor is it the game of any of our prospects. They're all smooth-skating PMDs - basically the same skill set in all of them. So for now, I'm assuming they're all vying for a position on the left side until one can prove himself capable of playing on his off side. Also, if Fowler's on your right side with Manson and GUddy, where does the right-shot PP QB go? We still badly need one of those too.

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So for me there are a few players I would be willing to move:

Fowler has been a very good player on the left side but like mentioned above his venture on the right side hadn't worked out. His back checking would be missed however since we are going into full rebuild mode it may be worth picking up a nice draft pick and prospect.

Lindholm has also been very reliable. However again I feel like he would be worth expensing for futures.

I like what I have seen in Larsson, Guhle and Mahura and would not be interested in trading any of them away at this time. I feel like they need to be give more of a chance to play. If that means trading one of the above so be it. This is the time to find out what we have in front of us.

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On the left-shot / right-shot thing:  https://triblive.com/sports/penguins-preview-series-defensemen-have-valuable-left-right-balance/

Quote

Last season, there were 196 lefties and 130 righties on defense. Ideally, every coach in the NHL wants every pairing to be made up of a left-handed shot and a right-handed shot. If you have to play two lefties, one of them is going to be in a tough spot playing on his off side.

“We prefer to have guys on their strong sides as defensemen,” Sullivan said. “It helps going back for pucks. You’re always on your forehand. You have the ability to change the point of attack on your forehand, make that (defense-to-defense) pass. It puts guys in more advantageous positions. That’s not to say that some guys can’t play the off side. But I think it’s obvious that our preference is to keep them on their strong sides.”

Said New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz: “It’s a huge luxury. When you get a lefty and lefty (on defense), it takes a unique player, a guy like (former Penguins defenseman) Sergei Gonchar who could do that a little bit. You lose about a third of your ice when you play your off hand. Just offensively, you lose a third of the ice. You get some good looks when you jump into holes because you’re on your off hand. You get a little more one-timers. It’s a unique skill to be able to do that.

***

More often than not, Jack Johnson and Jamie Oleskiak, who was traded to the Dallas Stars in January, were tasked with manning the off side.

“You get put on your backhand a little bit more, but I’m comfortable there,” Johnson said. “There’s pros and cons to the both. Offensively on the right side, you’ve got a chance to take one-timers, get pucks to the net a little quicker. In the (defensive) zone, you might have to put your head on a swivel a little bit more because you’ll be opened up a little bit more to get hit.”

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen also sometimes played his off side during his tenure with the Penguins.

“If you have time, if the puck is in the middle of the ice, you have more options,” Niskanen said. “But under pressure, you’re forced to make more plays on your backhand, which generally, for most people, is not as good. You’re set up for a one-timer automatically if you’re in the (offensive) zone. But pucks coming up the wall, you’re on backhand. You can’t make as strong of a play.

***

For a forechecking forward, you tend to be aware if a defenseman retrieving a puck is on his off side.

“I always am,” said Capitals forward Carl Hagelin, another former Penguin. “It’s more if he’s on his backhand or his forehand and what angle you’re coming at. Sometimes, you can’t really think, you just go. … You can see if he has his puck on his backhand, you know he doesn’t have as many options then he’s not as stronger. Just time-wise, it will take a little longer for him to do what he needs to do if it’s on his backhand.

 

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