Tracking giveaways and takeaways in the NHL can be tricky business, as it does require some judgment on behalf of the scorer, certainly much moreso than goals, assists and plus-minus.
For that reason (and as you'll see below), giveaway and takeaway numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt, yet there can be interesting information gleaned from the results.
Scott Cullen looks at the numbers and comes up with the leaders and trailers in takeaways per 60 minutes of even strength play last season in the NHL.
While it's no surprise that Pavel Datsyuk, a three-time Selke Award nominee that has led the league in takeaways in three of the last five seasons, would rank among the leaders, it's more noteworthy that Joe Thornton would finish with the most takeaways in the league, as well as the best rate at even strength.
There are a couple of high-profile two-way players that rank among the leaders, including Jonathan Toews and Nicklas Backstrom, yet there is an interesting mix in style of play and calibre of player that ranks among the takeaway leaders.
Checkers like Frans Nielsen, Ryan O'Reilly and Dave Bolland aren't terribly surprising, yet the list also includes offensive talents like John Tavares and Alexander Semin that might be a tad more surprising.
Among forwards that played at least 25 games, then, here are the Top 25 in takeaways per 60 minutes of even strength play:
Among those players that weren't big in the takeaway department, naturally, there are quite a few enforcers. They tend not to move particularly well, which makes it difficult to get in quickly on the forecheck to create turnovers.
At the same time, not registering a lot of takeaways doesn't inherently prevent a player from being a useful checker. For teams that tend to have possession of the puck a lot, there aren't many opportunities to take it away from the opponent.
That's part of the reason that checking forward like Drew Miller and Danny Cleary for Detroit, Gregory Campbell for Boston, Michael Rupp for Pittsburgh, Blair Betts for Philadelphia and Ryan Johnson for Chicago end up at the low end of the scale. However, since they have teammates that obviously take the puck away more, there is still room for improvement in all cases.
Here are the Bottom 25 forwards in takeaways per 60 minutes of even strength play (minumum 25 games):
On defence, Dustin Byfuglien is far and away the leader in the category, but the most glaring result is that seven Islanders defencemen rank among the leaders at the position, which could be a reflection on how liberal they are in recording takeaways on the Island, but also perhaps an indication that the Islanders have many, many opportunities for their defencemen to take the puck from the opposition.
Here are the Top 25 defencemen in even strength takeaways per 60 minutes (minimum 25 games):
Among defencemen at the low-end, it obviously doesn't reflect well on part-timers Joe Callahan, Matt Smaby and Brett Lebda to have so few takeaways, but being low on takeaways doesn't necessarily mean a defenceman can't be effective.
Dennis Seidenberg was obviously very effective shutting down the top lines of Boston's opponents in the postseason, but he's one of five Bruins defencemen to rank low on the takeaway chart.
Here are the Bottom 25 defencemen in even strength takeaways per 60 minutes (minimum 25 games):
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.