This is the weekly edition of Idaho Steelheads Power Rankings, where we at IdahoSteelheads.com will see where the Steelheads and their players rank among the best of the best in the ECHL.
The Steelheads maintained their hold on first place in the West Division with three points over Utah last weekend! Their climb up the ladder has largely been the product of great defensive play, and that certainly includes Corbin Baldwin. Baldwin was a plus-1 on Saturday, raising his team-leading figure to plus-25. But where does “Baldy” rank among the league leaders for defenseman? Let’s find out!*All Statistics current as of 3/1*
5) Matt MacKenzie; Manchester Monarchs- Plus-21
A former third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, Matt MacKenzie has played a handful of games in the ECHL during his previous four pro seasons while playing mostly at AHL Rochester. This season, his first full campaign in the ECHL with Manchester, MacKenzie is having his best professional season. The defender has a plus-21 rating and 17 points, as well as 100 penalty minutes. MacKenzie was a plus-11 in February.
4) Mark Nemec; Florida Everblades- Plus-22
Mark Nemec’s plus-37 rating two years ago with the Colorado Eagles was the second-best mark in the entire ECHL. While he’s not on that pace this season, he’s still having a terrific defensive year. Nemec was just a plus-6 last season while putting up a strong 32 points for the Eagles. Now with the Florida Everblades, Nemec might have the best of both worlds with 23 points and a plus-22 mark. There are 18 games left for Nemec to boost both figures.
3) Joey Leach; South Carolina Stingrays- Plus-22
After posting the fifth best plus/minus in the ECHL last season (plus-37) with the Fort Wayne Komets, Joey Leach is having another terrific defensive campaign in his first year with the South Carolina Stingrays. Leach’s offensive numbers have been respectable with 11 points from the back-end, but as a lockdown defender it’s his plus 12 mark in the month of December that jumps off his stat sheet.
2) Corbin Baldwin; Idaho Steelheads- Plus-25
One of the league’s best shot-blockers, Baldwin is on the Steelheads top penalty-killing unit and leading shut-down pair with partner Shawn Boutin. Both Baldwin and Boutin went 27 consecutive games without earning a minus rating, a streak snapped Friday against the Grizzlies, with Baldwin going plus-22 over that stretch. In his fourth pro season, Baldwin’s current plus-25 rating is 22 goals better than any rating he has put up in his career over a full season.
1) Bryce Aneloski; Missouri Mavericks- Plus-27
When your team has scored 73 more goals than it has given up, you’re going to have some strong plus-performers on the roster. Bryce Aneloski has been a strong defensive player in his first two seasons in the league with the Orlando Solar Bears, earning a plus-15 in 2014 and a plus-8 in 2015 between stops in the AHL. This season Aneloski is blowing those stats away, with a plus-27 mark, while still on pace to reach his usual production marks offensively with six goals and 21 points. Baldwin is gaining on Aneloski on this list however, with Aneloski just a plus-2 in February.