Anaheim's All-Time Team: the 5th and 6th Defensemen

Well, I was happy enough with the variety of responses I got from my search for a #1 center for the all-time Anaheim Sometimes-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim that I think I'll continue this "ask the audience" theme before publishing my own roster (note: feel free to continue voting on centermen). Today's theme: third-pairing defensemen.

I won't spend much time justifying my picks for the top-four blueliners just yet (that will come with the unveiling), but just know that Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Fredrik Olausson, and Oleg Tverdovsky have all been pre-qualified, leaving just two slots to fill. I've narrowed the field down to eleven candidates, whom I'll list chronologically, but if you feel I've slighted anyone feel free to write in your own answer (c'mon, Trnka and Huskins fans). Which two players deserve a spot on Anaheim All-Time Team's blueline? Here we go!

Bobby Dollas (1993-94 to 1997-98)
305 gp, 28-61-89, +31

I'll have to admit; I was a fledgling fan back in Bobby Dollas' heyday, and my memory is sort of shoddy to the point where I only remember a blend of Dollas and Karpa. But hey, actual remembering isn't a requirement for the All-Time team, and Dollas was an original mainstay. I was shocked at his +31 career plus-minus for Anaheim, which is best on this list, as the old-school Mighty Duck teams weren't much to brag about.

Dave Karpa (1994-95 to 1997-98)
245 gp, 7-43-50, +5

See above. I believe Karpa played hockey in much more a tripod-fashion than did Dollas, but I can't even say that with 100% certainty. Still, you should give some credit to the old-school guard; they didn't have nearly the quality of linemates as recent Ducks players have enjoyed. If anyone wants to do justice to the memories of Dollas and Karpa, feel free.

Dmitri Mironov (1996-97 to 1997-98)
128 gp, 18-64-82, +13

Mironov was a short-term Duck, but he was productive (his .641 points-per-game is tops on this list). Not only a quality regular-season performer, but Dmitri also posted a point-per-game in Anaheim's first playoffs in 1997 (1-10-11 in 11 games). Strangely, I was never that enamored with Mironov's game -- he never seemed that dominant and I definitely don't recall being upset when he left the team. Again, though, this was the early days of Sleek the hockey fan.

Ruslan Salei (1996-97 to 2005-06)
594 gp, 26-79-105, -3

Ah, now we're getting more into my memory's wheelhouse. "Salei of Game" or "Cirque du Salei" was a mainstay for a decade on the Anaheim blueline, and his 594 regular season games is tops of all Anaheim defensemen. He was tough, dirty, and at times had above-average hockey sense, though there was always the sense he had the tools to be even better. Still, when the Ducks were down 3 games to 2 to Calgary in the 1st round of the 2006 playoffs, I thought that Salei more than anyone really elevated his play to help the team advance. Plus he's from Belarus.

Niclas Havelid (1999-00 to 2003-04)
310 gp, 24-61-85, -42

Ah, Havelid, the Swedish component of the 2003 miracle blueline. Havelid has pretty strong counting numbers (85 ANA points is third-best on this list), but man that minus-42 rating really stands out, doesn't it? At least the guy got an even rating in the 2003 playoff run. I'm not sure that Havelid ultimately belongs on this list, but in case there are any Swedish die-hards he's in the running.

Vitaly Vishnevski (1999-00 to 2005-06)
416 gp, 11-37-48, -11

Vish-dog in da house! I'm way too enamored with Vishnevski to give an unbiased description here, but despite his inability to score (by far the worst scoring rate on the list), Vish-dog is still second-all-time in games played by an Anaheim defenseman. His real skill isn't so much about scoring anyway, but more about creating opportunities to murder people on the ice. Sure his out-of-position wandering backfires, and sure he departed under suspect circumstances (traded right after arbitration), but he is by definition a third-pairing kind of guy, and unlike anyone else on this list, I do own a Vishnevski jersey.

Keith Carney (2001-02 to 2005-06)
271 gp, 13-48-61, +30

Damn, "Carney Asada" was an awesome defenseman for the Ducks -- a steady Eddie who was as vital to the 2003 cup run as anybody not named Giguere. He came to the team as a veteran, and seemingly was always one bad turn away from never standing up again, but he was a tough battler and a smart blueliner. Carney's offensive talents were average at best, but I'll never forget the pass he made to Rucchin to cement the 2003 Wings sweep -- the only time ever I've seen Carney behind an opponent's net.

Sandis Ozolinsh (2002-03 to 2005-06)
84 gp, 13-27-40, -1

Ozos is another short-timer, but probably represents Anaheim's best ever mid-season pickup on the blueline. While Sandis is well-known for his offensive skills and defensive shortcomings, I actually found him to be respectable on both ends of the rink, at least during his 2003 season. Consider: he was a team-best plus-8 in the 2003 playoffs, and was on the ice for all four of Anaheim's game-winning goals in the 2003 series against Dallas (all of which came after the 58-minute mark of the game). That's pretty damn clutch, and Ozos was pretty special to watch. Counting against Ozos? Everything after the 2003 cup finals.

Francois Beauchemin (2005-06 to current)
214 gp, 17-66-83, +6

I'm not sure how well to rate Beauchemin in this exercise, as Frenchie has yet to show much in the category of "playing without Scott Niedermayer". Still, the guy was a gem in 2006 and has been a steady enough player the last two seasons, and his early playoff heroics (punching out Iginla in Calgary and shouldering Brunette in G1 of the COL series) are legendary. I don't know where Ducks fans sit on Frenchie -- I've met fans who absolutely love him and fans who can't stand him (honestly, I don't really understand either side). Still, his 66 Anaheim assists ranks second on this list.

Sean O'Donnell (2005-06 to current)
182 gp, 5-24-29, +21

Another sheer wall of steadiness who also has spent some time piggybacking on a former Norris trophy winner, O'Donnell has been a great shut-down minute-eater for the Ducks, especially once paired with Pronger in 2006. O'Donnell is second-worst to Vishnevski in terms of offense, but that's not his game. In fact, I've never seen a defenseman throw so many pucks intentionally wide of the net to avoid opposing shot-blockers. But that's O'Donnell: safe and solid, and that is a huge contribution when facing the opponents' best. I'm not considering salary on this all-time team, but I was super-impressed when UFA O'Donnell, right after winning the Stanley Cup, re-signed with the Ducks for a discount. That's a team player, right there.

Mathieu Schneider (2007-08)
65 gp, 12-27-39, +22

Look, just because we're in the process of kicking Schneider's salary off the team, that doesn't mean the guy isn't eligible for all-time consideration. I mean, he did have a quality season playing easy minutes, and even picked up a few Norris votes. In terms of skillset, Schneider might be the best on this list, especially if we're talking about shooting. However, he most likely won't have been on the Ducks for very long, and he did have a rather invisible playoff series against Dallas (his only point of the series was a meaningless goal in the last 8 seconds of G4), but will that cost him a spot on the all-time squad?

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So there's my eleven candidates with only two slots to fill.

Who gets your votes? Are you in favor of short-term production (Mironov, Ozolinsh, Schneider), steady stay-at-homes (Carney, O'Donnell), long-serving serviceable d-men (Salei, Vishnevski), old-school types (Dollas, Karpa), unheralded gems (Havelid, Beauchemin), or a mix of the above? There's no wrong answers; I'm just looking for preference, really.

I don't think I've done this list as much justice as I did with the centermen, but this is just Anaheim All-Time Decision #2 (I've still got two more coming). As before, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments: which two defensemen deserve the all-time third pairing? If you want, you can also share who was a close runner-up. You don't even have to be a Ducks fan to chime in -- all are welcome.

Go Ducks.

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