Since my NHL power rankings for the top-5 centers was accepted with such warmth and vigor, it seemed only natural to continue the trend and give you the top-5 defensemen currently in the league.
(Yes, Tampa fans I heard you loud and clear last time, but you Boston fans probably still won’t be too happy with me.)
If you want to play defense in the NHL, you have to be willing to sacrifice two things – your body and your pride. Defensemen are prone to giving and taking brutal hits, both from opponents and the flying chunk of frozen rubber they sling at the net. They also generally don’t get the glory and face-time that centers, wingers and goalies can receive.
So in ranking the top defensemen in the NHL, you have to take into account their skills as defenders, their plus/minus rating, number of blocked shots, and (of course) their production at the offensive end of the ice.
And for the defensemen that are looked at as the “enforcers” on teams (because goons is such a 70′s term), penalty minutes are actually viewed in almost a trophy-like way.
Gone are the days of wide open hockey, and defensemen that can score at will (unless you’re playing pond hockey), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some back line guys who can’t zip one into the goal when given the chance. Some of the younger defensemen in the league are developing into important offensive pieces for their teams.
This was a tough list to compile, as many of the leagues top defenders have very similar stats, so if your favorite player didn’t make the cut, he was probably right on the cusp.
To that end, I will give honorable mention to:
P.K. Subban – Montreal Canadiens; Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets; Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins; All who could have easily been at the number five spot on this list.