Islanders All-Decade Team: The Defensemen

Our fabrication of an Islandes All-Decade Team for the 2000s continues with the defensemen. For the all-decade goalie post and vote, go here.

For my money, three of the better Islanders defensemen made a hell of a trio at the beginning of the decade, while the fourth one only pulled on the NYI crest at the tail end of this span but is fast rising up the decade's points and games played list.

Points -- and points per game -- isn't really the ideal way to rank defensemen, but with the discussion of blueliner quality being so multi-faceted, it's the best shorthand we've got. Plus, while the first job of a defenseman is to help keep pucks out of the net, the ones who are truly elite bring offense to the table, too. As for the balance between one and the other -- we can call that "The Marc-Andre Bergeron Question" -- that's a debate that shall rage on 'till the end of time.

After the jump (which is after the poll, if you're on the main page), some stats for the blueliners who have tallied the most points and games played. You can only vote for one defenseman in this poll, but that software limitation may have an unintended benefit: We'll simply name the top two vote getters to our team.

Speaking of the many incomplete ways to judge defensemen, the plus/minus tally on this list features some real howlers (introducing Brendan Witt, Chris Campoli, Bruno Gervais and Eric Cairns: a collective minus-162 as Islanders!) -- and speaks to how plus/minus must always be considered in the context of the roster a player is on.

For example, Roman Hamrlik and Kenny Jonsson were each plus-10 for their Isles careers, playing for four different coaches in four seasons on teams that, total, gave up 54 more goals than they scored. Brendan Witt is minus-47 for his Islanders career, playing parts of four seasons for two coaches on teams that have given up 149 more goals than they scored (as of Dec. 21, 2009). Witt's total isn't just hurt by the fact he's not an offensive defenseman and he's not a fit for Scott Gordon's system -- it's also affected by the fact the Islanders squads he's been on have bled goals.

Player From To GP G A PTS +/- PIM ESG PPG SHG GWG SOG G/G A/G PTS/G
1 Roman Hamrlik 2001 2004 300 43 110 153 10 325 27 14 2 9 734 0.14 0.37 0.51
2 Kenny Jonsson 2001 2004 291 31 85 116 10 102 16 13 2 2 412 0.11 0.29 0.4
3 Adrian Aucoin 2002 2004 235 33 80 113 47 186 17 16 0 4 620 0.14 0.34 0.48
4 Radek Martinek 2002 2010 389 18 69 87 -5 237 16 1 1 4 439 0.05 0.18 0.22
5 Chris Campoli 2006 2009 228 20 63 83 -40 128 14 4 2 4 285 0.09 0.28 0.36
6 Mark Streit 2009 2010 111 20 54 74 4 92 7 12 1 1 227 0.18 0.49 0.67
7 Bruno Gervais 2006 2010 238 6 45 51 -43 113 5 1 0 1 240 0.03 0.19 0.21
8 Janne Niinimaa 2003 2006 136 11 33 44 3 140 6 5 0 2 131 0.08 0.24 0.32
9 Tom Poti 2007 2007 78 6 38 44 -1 74 0 6 0 1 134 0.08 0.49 0.56
10 Alexei Zhitnik 2006 2007 89 7 33 40 17 128 4 3 0 1 148 0.08 0.37 0.45
11 Marc-Andre Bergeron 2007 2008 69 15 24 39 -9 26 3 12 0 2 151 0.22 0.35 0.57
12 Brendan Witt 2007 2010 239 5 29 34 -47 317 5 0 0 0 205 0.02 0.12 0.14
13 Freddy Meyer 2007 2010 141 7 23 30 -19 80 7 0 0 3 123 0.05 0.16 0.21
14 Brent Sopel 2006 2006 57 2 25 27 -9 64 0 2 0 0 121 0.04 0.44 0.47
15 Sean Hill 2007 2007 81 1 24 25 6 110 1 0 0 0 88 0.01 0.3 0.31
16 Eric Cairns 2001 2004 251 7 17 24 -32 595 7 0 0 1 110 0.03 0.07 0.1
17 Andy Sutton 2008 2010 112 6 18 24 -1 162 6 0 0 1 106 0.05 0.16 0.21
18 Bryan Berard 2008 2008 54 5 17 22 -17 48 1 4 0 2 87 0.09 0.31 0.41
19 Garry Galley 2001 2001 56 6 14 20 -4 59 2 4 0 0 94 0.11 0.25 0.36
20 Dick Tarnstrom 2002 2002 62 3 16 19 -12 38 3 0 0 0 59 0.05 0.26 0.31

First let me tell you, for comedy's sake it was really hard to know where to cut this list off. A 56-player list doesn't look so hot on this page, so I encourage you to go to Hockey-Reference for the full list, where you'll find promising current Islander Jack Hillen just below the cutoff, along with Zdeno Chara, whose Islanders tenure just nipped into this decade.

Plus, you've got your Deron Quints, Brett Skinners, Mathieu Birons and the Great Alexander Karpovtsev. So you've got that goin' for ya ... which is nice.

As for who deserves your All-Decade vote? I'm not sure what criteria should push you over the edge. Longevity? Number of years in a uniform? Who was absolute best in an Isles uniform, regardless of time? Or simply who is the best defenseman you'd want in his prime (in which case Chara enters the debate)?

I'd probably have three different answers for each of those questions. While "longevity" and "Radek Martinek" rarely appear in the same sentence, he has ironically had the longest tenure both in years and in {shock!} games played; in some ways he aptly represents the decade. For lengthy stellar tenure, I'd give the nod to Kenny Jonsson -- though I can see a compelling argument for Hamrlik and Aucoin as well. I may be choosing Kenny over Roman strictly for likability reasons.

(Speaking of Aucoin, when I whine about the summer 2009 missed opportunity to upgrade the blueline, he's who I most have in mind. While you never know where a player is interested in heading, for my money if Aucoin was willing to go to the uncertain desert, he could have been talked into returning to the Island, allowing the Isles to twice buy low and potentially sell high on the guy. Just imagine the powerplay with him and Streit at the points.)

Anyway, for the final question of who is the best defenseman overall, despite his regression this year I'm still tempted to say Mark Streit. He's the highest points-per-game producer of the bunch, he's an undeniable two-way threat, and although he's only been with the team for a year and a half, he's got the sixth most blueline points on this list and has already logged 111 games. But again, I'm prone to a recency/likability bias.

I can't tell you how to vote. Favorite player? Representative of the decade as a whole? Best pure guy? It's your call. Write-ins, explanations, and remorse over what could have been are also encouraged in comments.

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