Who's the Best Defenceman in Hockey?

Assuming each of the 30 teams in the NHL carry 7 defencemen, there are 210 blueliners playing in the NHL. Which one is the best? Well here is who I think are the top 10 defencemen in the NHL today.

1. Niklas Lidstrom – defensively he is so smart. he cuts off angles with his quickness. Is a master at the stick check and great at tying up sticks of the opponents. there are few blueliners who are better positionally than Lidstrom. He knows where he needs to be. Offensively he can rack up 60 plus points a year. he has a huge shot at the point and is one of the best quarterbacks for the powerplay. he is also great at the outlet pass and will be able to show that skill even more with the redline taken out.

2. Scott Niedermayer – there may not be a better skater in the NHL than Nieds. He uses that asset well on defence rarely getting caught behind the play as he can make up ground with his great speed. he can play with a bit of sandpaper if needed but mainly uses his speed and quickness to take care of his own end. Perhaps the most dangerous defenceman on offence in the league. he is one of the few around who can go end to end and he joins the rush with regularity. He is a terrific passer and though not the biggest shot from the point, he gets the puck on net which causes a big problems when there are rebounds.

3. Chris Pronger – when he is on his game there may be no better defensive defenceman than Pronger. his combination of size and mobility is unmatched. he makes opponents pay dearly for venturing into his zone. he will either punish you for standing in front or paste you against the boards. he is also a bigtime offensive contributor. great a quarterbacking the powerplay he has a heavy shot and is a wonderful passer out of his zone. he can change a game with a big goal or a devastating hit.

4. Rob Blake – He may be slowing down but dont tell that to any of his opponents. He still is one of the best open ice hitters in the game. and at his size those hits are nothing short of punishing. this is what makes him so solid defensively because it forces opponents to look over their shoulder in fear of getting killed rather than focusing on an offensive play. He is still one of the best PP QBs. He can shoot the puck but at the same time get it on net. i think he will have a field day getting the puck to the fleet Avs forwards on the team.

5. Zdeno Chara – He has come a long way from being a guy who was only in the NHL for his size to one who has used all of his abilities to the fullest advantage. He is a feared presence in the defensive zone. at 6’7 and about 250 lbs you cannot stand in front of the net with him as he simply has too much size and strength that he will push players aside with ease. he is also showing a mean streak that makes him more of an impact player on defence. you do not want to get hit by someone that big. He has also shown a bit of an offensive touch. he is often used as a forward on the powerplay causing havoc in front with his big frame. you cant move him when he plants himself in front of the goalie.

6. Wade Redden – Redden is one of the steadiest blueliners in the league. he is a model of consistency playing sound defence mixed in with decent offence. he is not physical but can take the body. he relies more on being sound positionally and being in the right place at the right time. on offence he is adept at running the point he is a smart passer and reads plays well knowing when and when not to join the rush. he isnt flashy, punishing or an intimidating presence. just produces game in and game out.

7. Ed Jovanovski – He is quite the opposite from Wade Redden. He makes the list because he is one of the bigger impact blueliners in the league making a difference with a big play rather than a slew of steady plays throughout the game. he can change a game like few others with a big rush on offence, a huge goal, a massive hit, or an incredible defensive play. he may not give you consistent play every night but you can be sure to see a big time play by Jovocop at least once a game.

8. Sergei Gonchar – His offence alone gets him into the top 10. He is ok defensively but isnt much of a shutdown guy, plays a bit soft and can be caught out of position on occasion as he looks for offence. he plays much better with defensive minded partner. But he may be the best producer on offence from the defence in the NHL. he racks up goals and points like no other. often around the 20-25 goal mark he is a demon on the powerplay.

9. Mattias Ohlund – People in the East are deprived of seeing this talent. One of the best two way talents in the league, Ohlund is a defenceman who often gets overlooked. Part of it is because Jovanovski is his teammate and he has more pizzazz to his game. Ohlund is just solid. he can log big minutes, play against the other teams top players night in and night out. willingly take the body even against the biggest and strongest competitiors. He also can contribute on offence but isnt asked as much to do so in Vancouver with Jovanovski there. He is great at getting pucks through and making smart passes out of the zone. he can also join the rush. He might be the most underrated defenceman in the league.

10. Adam Foote – There may not be a better shutdown defender than Foote, especially now that Stevens is about to retire. He isnt an offensive stud but seems to be able to put up 30 plus points every year. He has developed into a first rate passer after just being known for his defensive work. He is big but can move well enough to join the rush. But he makes his money for the intagibles he brings defensively. He is a leader. he can take charge of his own end and of his team not only vocally but though effort. he is a miserable player to play against. he will leave players with scars for entering his zone. though not getting any younger and a history of injury trouble, Foote is still one of the best stay at home defencemen in the league.

Well there you have it. Not everyone will agree but I think I will not be far off in my rankings. There are notables that are missing but are right up there. The hardest person to leave out of the top 10 is Brian Leetch. I think he will be much better not playing for the pitiful Rangers who made his defensive stats look terrible. But this guy could flourish in the new opened up NHL if they indeed open up the game.

Guys like Kubina and McCabe are top 20 candidates at least because they can do it at both ends. Alot of people discount McCabe but he finished 4th in Norris voting for a reason. he is good. He can score, he can hit. one mistake should not push him towards the worst blueliners in the league. that is what many think.

Youngsters like Bouwmeester, Brewer, Boynton still need a couple of years to be considered in the top 10. they are young and still need to work on parts of their game to move up the ranks.

Guys like Regher, Warrener, Hannan and Phillips are great stay at home defencemen. They are not flashy, they dont put up big numbers, they dont have the highlight reel plays on defence or offence that we see from other blueliners but game in and game out they are some of the fiercest and hardest working players around. they never show up in the game summaries but usually have a hand in helping their teams win.

Here it is, the best defencemen in hockey. My biggest point was to show that McCabe, though not among the top 10, is still alot better than many think. Just look at the players I left off. Morris, McLaren, Timonen, Norstrom, Schneider, Zubov, Aucoin, Niinimaa, Souray, Rafalski, Hatcher. Are any of those players better than McCabe? Perhaps as good but not better. The guy can score, he can play physical and make an impact each game. One bad game does not make a player. I have seen many of those guys listed above play terrible hockey at some point but a bad game is never held against them like McCabe. It may be a fruitless attempt but try to be more objective when judging talent than using a bad game or the team they play for as to why a player is bad.

187 Responses to Who's the Best Defenceman in Hockey?

  1. GretzNYR99 says:

    Hey, anyone who can cover for Jovonovski’s freewheeling mistakes deserves to have SOME recognition.

    Maybe not number one, but top 25?

  2. H_E_DBL_HCKY_STCKS says:

    Top 10 defensemen in the NHL today are:

    10. Mattias Ohlund

    9. Bryan McCabe

    8. Kim Johnsson

    7. Rob Blake

    6. Zdeno Chara

    5. Wade Redden

    4. Brian Leetch

    3. Chris Pronger

    2. Scott Niedermayer

    1. Nik Lidstrom

    (List takes into account defensive strength along with offensive strength as well as the defenseman’s all round abilities.)

    Honourable mentions: Ed Jovanovski, Sergei Gonchar, Adrian Aucoin, Sergei Zubov, Pavel Kubina, Dan Boyle, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart, and Sheldon Souray.

    The way I look at it, I would rather have anyone in my personal top ten than anyone on the honourable mention list. But then again, this is a list so anyone’s top ten is debatable.

  3. Maximus says:

    That what Flyer fans are going to call those guys in one month!!!!!!!!!

  4. raine_kalisz says:

    I’m in no way a Flyers fan, but wathcing them as much as I have I have to give credit to Johnsson and Markov, and I would rate them ahead of McCabe. A couple other defenceman that tend to fly under the radar a lot, but are both top notch defenceman are Dan Boyle, and Jordan Leopold. Leopold in the playoffs last year was incredible and watching Boyle in the World champs and in Sweden this year I’ve been extrememly impressed with what he can do and not just offensively.

    As for people too highly rated I think Ohlund is ahead of Jovo to be honest (jovo can get carried away and has defensive lapses), and I think Gonchar is far too one-dimensional to be considered a top 10 defenceman. The number one offensive defenceman to be sure, but not top ten overall. Also I don’t believe Lidstrum is the top defenseman in the league. I would rate Blake, Pronger and possibly even Ohlund ahead of him. These guys are the total package, completely defensive reliable with very large offensive upside to go along with that. Lidstrom, while better offensively and sound defensively, doesn’t have the physical element that these three can bring to the game.

    I think in a couple years another name you’re going to have to add to your list is Kronvall, the Detroit prospect. This guy is going to be the best defenseman in the NHL one day. I watched him dominate in both international play and in the AHL and I really think he has what it takes to be the NHL’s #1 defenceman.

  5. FLAMESOWNU says:

    u r completly right…he is a big waste

    YASHIN on the other hand…what an investment


  6. FLAMESOWNU says:

    what are u talking about…i never said i didn’t like them

  7. tacitus says:

    ha ha ha u know what i meant im stuuupid sorry bout that

  8. tacitus says:

    I like to say Jovocop not cuz im a fan but the spelling is alot easier. As u can see i have a hard time spelling Norris, i made a typo and spelt it Vezina

  9. tacitus says:

    dam i forgot about aucion, now i have to redo my list

  10. tacitus says:

    Lidstrom missed like 11 games in over 10 seasons, that alone with the numbers and awards put him ahead of Pronger who missed an entire season, blake who has had injuries as has jovocop. Lidstrom shows up which alot of those physical guys cant do for even 70 games a year. He plays smart finess and is a proven champion unlike Pronger and Ohlund. Didn’t pronger get traded for Eric Brewer?? i dont think the wings would of traded Lidstrom for Brewer

  11. bammer91 says:

    buddy ohlund is top 10 for sure….he rarely makes mistakes….he is a solid defenceman

  12. rocapads says:

    stevens is retired

  13. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    Kim Johnsen was 14th in scoring in 2003-04 for D-men. He is coming into his own and his team is better in front of him. Having Peter Forsberg and Jeff Carter out there in front of him to score will help his PP numbers.

    He proved he was a warrior when he played with a broken hand to a 7th game battle with Tampa. Johnsen is the unquestioned PP quarterback on the Vegas odds favortie to win the cup. He also has players like Hather and Rathje to take some some of the slack with the rough stuff.

  14. rocapads says:

    Wow your dumb,, i mean you cant be any more bias

  15. dcz28 says:

    I’m not bashing the Leafs but come on Chara had 16 goals 25 assits for 41 points in 79 games with 147 penalty minutes +33, 7 pp goals and was voted 2nd for the Norris if that is nothing for you…you dont know what good is but i think your just upset that McCabe was not in the original post or your still upset that Chara made McCabe look like a rag doll when they fought the last time

  16. flyersfan21 says:

    I seen McCabe play against the Flyers and I wont want him on our team, I’m glad he’s on Toronto because that means we’ll score more goals against you. Wasnt McCabe benched a few games against the Flyers in the playoffs because of his play. You would never see that happen to Johnsson.

    You post stats: Stats mean nothing: Johnsson plays against other teams top lines where McCabe is what, sixth defense at best on Toronto.

    they is no need to make a comment against against Desjardins but if you want one here it is: he absolutely is not the player he was when we first traded for him. He lost his step. But he still is a much better defenceman than McCabe. He is still more reliable in his own end. And I’m the biggest Desjardins basher in the world. I wish the Flyers would trade him.

  17. flyersfan21 says:

    I always take Ohlund in my hockey pool and he never fails to produce.

    The only reason I have Jovocop ranked above him and at number 5 is because he has the ability to take over a game with his big hits.

    I remember when he was with the Panthers and the way he played against the Flyers, he was hell to play against and that always sticks in my head.

    Plus he can put up some points as well.

  18. Beantown says:

    Of all the responses, I’ve seen little to no respect for Nick Boynton or Eric Brewer. What gives, guys?

  19. JannettyTheRocker says:

    Don’t know much about Nick Boynton, but Eric Brewer definitely deserves SOME respect. I mean, he has been to the Olypics twice, and was a really good defenseman for my Oilers. But he is not in the same class as Pronger, Lidstrom, or Neidermayer……..but he is an asset to any team.

  20. Scruffy05 says:

    Think Robocop but more hair and less bullets…

  21. Azalichio says:

    If we are talking about strickly offensive skill, I’d take Brisebois before McCabe

    Brisebois : 791GP 79G 263A 342Pts, average of 0.432 pts per game

    McCabe : 708GP 76G 194A 270Pts, average of 0.381 pts per game

    Not a huge difference, but considering Brisebois played with the Habs, who stink big time from 95 to well, up to now really. ( though since 2000 it’s been getting better ) I’d take Brisebois anytime.

  22. NemiNA says:

    Johnsson is an all around guy. A very talented 2 way QUICK defensman. I am sure as hell glad we got something great out of the Lindros deal, and Johnson basically seals that. He’s about 30 now, so I hope they extend him midway through the season.

  23. NemiNA says:

    Most Consistant Defense. Montodore will do well to.

  24. NemiNA says:

    Yeah he’s definaetly underrated. I think he loses some rep under Jovo cop.

  25. oilfans_suck says:

    I like it, I would of switched Foote and Chara, and maybe moved up Zubov a bit. I hate him, but thats cause he always makes unbeleivable plays against the Oilers!

  26. oilfans_suck says:

    I dont know how you can put rafalski and norstrom over Redden and Foote. Thats just wrong! You will see Rafalski is now the most over paid d man in the league. I like him but the devils are idiots for giving him that type of cash!

  27. oilfans_suck says:

    from an oiler fans point of veiw, i think that you are on crack. The senators defence is WAY better than Torontos, it isnt even close. I would rather have Chris Phillips than anyone on the leafs (including sundin)! I try to stay neutral between Leafs Senator and Canadien fans but i am really starting to dislike leaf fans. THe things they say are just hilarios. The best is reading trade rumors from leaf fans. They all think that they can get whoever they want for a shitty prospect and 4th line clunker.

    Leafs d better than sens d. yeah and edmontons offence is better than Tampa bays. jk

  28. oilfans_suck says:

    are you sure he was at the Olympics 2 times. I thaught only once, he did however play in the world cup. He is good but i always figured he got picked for those teams because of K Lowe.. as an oiler fan i havnt really seen him Dominate games like most teams no1 d man. He still has potential but Pronger is and always will be WAY better!

  29. 93213 says:

    Yeah but where was he when Moore cranked Nazlund?

    I never saw him stand up for anyone.

    Cops don’t just hit people they defend people like Nazzy who can’t hit back.

  30. valdemar89 says:

    Wow! And everyone says that us Leaf fans are Crazy!!!!!!!

  31. hockeywhore says:

    HAHAHA, you spelled ‘fisical’. Go back to middle school and come back with a better argument, McCabe is garbage compared to that list.

  32. hockeywhore says:

    Spell it with me! Hatcher is U-S-E-L-E-S-S. Yeah!

  33. hockeywhore says:

    I usually search this site for the sole purpose of destroying someone’s opinions, but I agree with this list and commentary about 98%. I would have Regehr on the list as opposed to Foote now, but even so, very well written and argumented. The absence of Derian Hatcher also has my full support. Bravo

  34. TheHead says:

    The List should look more like this:

    1)Chris Pronger

    2)Rob Blake

    3)Scott Niedermeyer

    4)Niklas Lidstrom

    5)Adam Foote

    6)Ed Jovanovski

    7)Wade Redden

    8)Bryan McCabe

    9)Robyn Regehr

    10)Zdeno Chara

    Bryan McCabe in my opinion is probably the most under-rated defenceman in the NHL. While Niklas Lidstrom, though he is very good is probably one of the most overrated. Left off my list compared to some of yours include Gonchar, Ohlund and Leetch. Mainly because Gonchar is pure offence no defence. Ohlund is a loser and Leetch is an elderly bum that didn’t help toronto get anywhere. In my opinion a defenceman should be gritty and tough. Thats why it hurts me to put on my list the names Nik Lidstrom and Wade Redden. I don’t mind Niedermeyer.

  35. TheHead says:


  36. Beantown says:

    I agree. That would be an interesting list. As for the worst players in the league I’d say Rob Zamuner is up there for sure… and I’m a die-hard Bruins fan.

  37. Hackstall says:

    Aucoin is easily in the top 10. I would take him over half those guys in the top 10 in a heartbeat. He plays huge minutes, is top notch defensively and will still get 45 points.

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