Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ranking the Top 10 Players in Each Position- Defensemen

Yesterday I ranked the top goaltenders in the NHL. Today I take a look at the defensemen.

Defensemen have one of the most thankless jobs in the league. Unless they score a lot, they don't get much recognition. More often you see them beguiled for a poor defensive effort. Still, there are those that thrive under the pressure. Here are the top 10 defensemen in the league.

Honorable Mentions:
Niklas Kronwall- He's been asked to step up for Niklas Lidstrom, which is hard. He has done good, but has not lived up to the bar Lidstrom has set, which very few can do, really.
Andrei Markov- Even at 34, he is one of the premiere defensemen in the league. He finished tied for third among defensemen in goals with 10, only behind Mike Green and PK Subban.
Dustin Byflugien- He is very good offensively, but is terrible defensively. He would probably excel as a winger, but plays D to so he can be out more. He needs to learn better D if he wants to crack the top 10.

10. Drew Doughty- The Caps fan base was stunned when Mike Green was snubbed for Doughty for the Canadian Olympic team. I'm still skeptical, but Doughty has certainly thrived in LA and is a good D man.
9. PK Subban- There are two reasons Subban is not higher on this list: youth and game. He is still young, and he plays an offensive-minded game which has been exploited. But he is still a great player who will probably thrive in this league.
8. Ryan Suter- He received a lot of flack for going for the big contract in Minnesota, but he actually played well there. He is capable of playing big minutes and is one of the best shutdown D men in the league.
7. Mike Green- Green is awesome. He was a back to back Vezina finalist a few years ago, and experienced a resurgence this year, leading the league in goals despite playing 7 fewer games than Subban, who was second. If he continues to stay in form and avoid injury, he could see a Norris soon.
6. Alex Pietrangelo- A vastly underrated D man last year, he has begun to excel as the number one defenseman in St. Louis. Like Suter, he eats big minutes and uses his physical attributes to help lead one of the most defensive teams in the league.
5. Kris Letang- Like him or not, Letang can do it all. He can score, play good D, and so on. What keeps from being higher, however, is that he can't do both at the same time. He can score a lot but play bad D, or play good D while going on a slump. But he is a defenseman you would want on your team.
4. Duncan Keith- Keith is the best defenseman on a team that desperately needs good defensemen. We've seen the how the Bruins have exploited the Blackhawks so far this series, and without Keith, the Hawks would have probably lost Game 4 10-5. Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell, and Niklas Hjalmarsson are good, but without the former Norris winner, the Blackhawks would be dead.
3. Shea Weber- Weber is an extremely physical player who scares the wits out of most players in the league. He is definitely an elite franchise defenseman. What keeps him at 3rd, though, is that the two players above him have Norris trophies, and are more consistent than him.
2. Erik Karlsson- Karlsson is the only offensive defenseman I feel comfortable placing this high. He won the Norris last year and has excelled in Ottawa. Although he is known for his offense, his defensive skills are vastly underrated, and but for the ACL tear, he may have had a shot at the top spot, which goes to...
1. Zdeno Chara- There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best defenseman in the league. Boston is one of the best defensive teams in the league, and Chara is their leader. He is like a more dominant, more consistent version of Shea Weber, and this is more than worthy of a top spot.

So what do you think? Put your thoughts/rankings in the comments, and come back tomorrow for Left Wings (which do NOT include Alex Ovechkin, by the way).

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