Welcome to NHL.com, the official site of the National Hockey League
Bienvenue à LNH.com , le site officiel de la Ligue nationale de hockey
Tervetuloa NHL:n viralliselle nettisivustolle NHL.comiin
Välkommen till NHL.com, NHL:s officiella web-sida
Vítejte na NHL.com, oficiálních stránkách National Hockey League
Vitajte na NHL.com, oficiálnych stránkach National Hockey League
Willkommen auf NHL.com, der offiziellen Seite der National Hockey League
Bienvenido a NHL.com, el sitio oficial de la National Hockey League
Whether it’s breaking up a big play, setting up a goal or scoring on the power play, some defensemen can do it all. NHL Network producers and analysts chose the top 20 defensemen in the League right now, and they were revealed Sunday in the third of a nine-part series. Here is the list:
20. Brent Burns, Carolina Hurricanes
Burns, who was traded to the Hurricanes from the San Jose Sharks on July 13, had 54 points (10 goals, 44 assists) in 82 games last season, and was third in the NHL with an average ice time per game of 26:09. He won the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in the NHL in 2017, and twice has been voted to the NHL First All-Star Team (2017, 2019). The 37-year-old has the most goals (172) and points (594) among NHL defensemen since the 2011-12 season.
19. Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas Golden Knights
Pietrangelo had 44 points (13 goals, 31 assists) and led the Golden Knights with an average ice time of 24:39 in 80 games last season and his four shorthanded points (one goal, three assists) were tied with forward Reilly Smith for the Vegas lead. The 32-year-old led the Golden Knights with 93 takeaways and was second with 164 blocked shots. Pietrangelo has had at least 40 points in nine of his 12 full NHL seasons and won the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019.
18. Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres
In his fourth NHL season, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft set NHL career highs in goals (13), assists (40), points (53), power-play points (21), shooting percentage (7.6 percent) and time on ice per game (24:01) in 80 games. The 22-year-old led the Sabres in hits (121) and tied Robert Hagg for the lead in blocked shots (91).
“He’s that typical young defenseman that’s had some growing pains along the way, but as the Buffalo Sabres get better, and they are starting to, … his on-ice awareness, his playmaking ability, he has all the tools,” NHL Network analyst Ken Daneyko said. “He sees the ice very well. He had a great year and I only expect him to get better and better.”
Video: Rasmus Dahlin among the Top 20 Defensemen Right Now
17. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Although he was limited to 39 games because of injury, Doughty was fifth in the NHL in ice time per game (25:44) and had 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists), for the highest points per game average of his 14-season NHL career (0.79). The 32-year-old has reached double digits in power-play points each season and is a four-time Norris Trophy finalist, winning the award in 2016. Doughty won the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012 and 2014.
[RELATED: NHL Top Players: Top 20 Wings | Top 20 Centers]
16. Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
Werenski set NHL career highs in assists (37) and points (48) in 68 games last season. He led the Blue Jackets in shots on goal (216) and average ice time per game (25:40), which ranked seventh in the NHL. The 25-year-old has at least 11 goals and 37 points in five of his six NHL seasons and has seen his ice time go up in each of the past five seasons.
“Zach Werenski is one of those guys who kind of is a general on the back end for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He moves the puck so well, joins the attack, he does it in a timely fashion,” Daneyko said. “… I wouldn’t say last year was his best, best year but he’s just a real good defenseman that logs a lot of minutes.”
Video: Zach Werenski among the Top 20 Defensemen Right Now
15. Shea Theodore, Vegas Golden Knights
The 27-year-old had his best offensive season in 2021-22, setting NHL career highs in goals (14), assists (38), points (52), game-winning goals (five) and overtime goals (three) in 78 games. Theodore ranked third on the Golden Knights in points and shots on goal (205) and was second in average ice time per game (23:08), behind Pietrangelo. He has four straight seasons with at least 35 points and has scored at least 12 goals in three of the past four. His 43 power-play points the past three seasons are 15th among NHL defensemen.
14. Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
Rielly had 68 points (10 goals, 58 assists) in 82 games last season, his most since he had 72 points in 2018-19. He led the Maple Leafs in average ice time per game (23:44) and was first among Toronto defensemen in power-play points (23) and shots on goal (221). The 28-year-old has topped 50 points three of the past five seasons.
13. Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes
Slavin, who led the Hurricanes in average ice time per game (23:32), had an NHL career-high 42 points (four goals, 38 assists) and was plus-35 in 79 games last season. The 28-year-old was assessed five minor penalties and was a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play, an award he won in 2021. Slavin led the Hurricanes in blocked shots (121) and takeaways (74).
“[His plus-minus rating] is really impressive because he plays against every team’s top line on a nightly basis and he continues to perform excellently as far as a shutdown defenseman, and also has 40-plus points a year, which isn’t too shabby,” Daneyko said. “… He’s as good of a defensive defenseman as there is in the game.”
Video: Jacob Slavin among the Top 20 Defenseman Right Now
12. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks
The 22-year-old tied his NHL career high with eight goals and set his bests with 60 assists and 68 points in 76 games last season. His 31 power-play assists were sixth in the NHL, and he led Vancouver in average ice time per game (25:15). He has had at least 41 points in each of his three full NHL seasons and was runner-up for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 2020.
11. Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings
Seider won the Calder Trophy last season, leading rookies in assists (43) and power-play points (21). He led rookie defensemen in points (50), game-winning goals (four) and shots on goal (187) and was second in goals (seven) while playing all 82 games. The 21-year-old led the Red Wings in time on ice per game (23:02), total ice time (1,889:22) and blocked shots (161) and was second in hits (151).
“I love the way he plays the game, I love his physicality, and he’s still growing,” NHL Network analyst Steve Konroyd said. “… You’re going to see Seider’s numbers creep up [this season] in a northward direction. The sky is the limit for this kid.”
Video: Moritz Seider among the Top 20 Defensemen Right Now
10. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars
Heiskanen had 36 points (five goals, 31 assists) in 70 games last season and led the Stars in average ice time per game (24:23). It was his highest point total in his four NHL seasons, and the 23-year-old tied his high with three goals and 11 points on the power play. He had 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 27 games in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the fifth highest total by a defenseman in a single postseason.
“I like his poise, and sometimes that is tough to have as a young defenseman in the NHL because you always feel rushed, you want to make the good play, but he is patient with the puck,” Konroyd said. “He’s good defensively but he can run a power play. … A real competitor.”
Video: Miro Heiskanen among the Top 20 Defensemen Right Now
9. John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Carlson had 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists) in 78 games last season, the third time in four seasons he’s had at least 70 points. The 32-year-old led Washington in average ice time per game (23:49) and was third in blocked shots (112). Carlson’s 260 points (55 goals, 205 assists) the past four seasons leads NHL defensemen, and his 99 power-play points are second to Victor Hedman (109). A finalist for the Norris Trophy in 2020, Carlson won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018.
8. Devon Toews, Colorado Avalanche
Toews may not receive as much attention as his defense partner, Cale Makar, but he had 57 points (13 goals, 44 assists) in 66 games, and has increased his goals and points total each of the past three seasons. Toews’ 158 shots on goal, 12 power-play points and three game-winning goals also were NHL career highs. The 28-year-old led NHL defensemen with a plus-52 rating and his average ice time per game of 25:22 was second on the Avalanche behind Makar (25:40). Toews had 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 20 playoff games to help the Avalanche win the Cup last season.
“I still think he’s underrated as a defenseman,” Konroyd said. “He really makes that team. And yeah, Cale Makar, No. 1. But those two guys playing together, that’s unfair. Those are two of the best defensemen in the entire NHL. Great skater, excellent stick, he can play the power play, he’s a great penalty killer, he’s a minute-muncher out there. … Yeah, he’s on a good team, but sometimes it’s tough to play on a high-octane offensive team because you’ve got to be responsible defensively, and that’s exactly what Devon Toews does.”
Video: Devon Toews among the Top 20 Defensemen Right Now
7. Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
The 26-year-old set NHL career highs in points (57) and assists (42) last season despite being limited to 61 games because of injury. His 20 power-play points, three shorthanded points and plus-38 rating also were his best totals in eight NHL seasons. The No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Ekblad led Florida with an average ice time of 24:55 per game and the Panthers had 58.2 percent of their shot attempts with him on the ice at 5-on-5. He won the Calder Trophy in 2015 and has scored at least 10 goals seven times.
6. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
At age 35, Letang ranked fourth in the NHL in average ice time per game (25:47) and set NHL career bests in assists (58) and points (68) in 78 games last season. He was second on the Penguins with a plus-20 rating, 122 blocked shots and 171 hits, tied for second with 22 power-play points and third with 214 shots on goal. He’s had at least 50 points six times in his 16 NHL seasons and is third among defensemen in points (650) since entering the NHL in 2006-07. He has made the NHL Second All-Star Team twice (2013, 2016), and is a three-time Stanley Cup winner (2009, 2016, 2017).
5. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins
McAvoy led the Bruins in average ice time per game (24:38) last season, a total that has increased each of the past four seasons. His plus-31 rating led Boston and his 56 points (10 goals, 46 assists) in 78 games led Bruins defensemen. The 24-year-old also topped Bruins defensemen in power-play points (21), game-winning goals (five) and blocked shots (130) and was second in hits (155). His 57.7 percent SAT percentage was fourth among Bruins skaters to play at least 15 games.
4. Adam Fox, New York Rangers
Fox won the Norris Trophy in 2021 when he was second among NHL defensemen with 47 points (five goals, 42 assists) in 55 games. Last season he was fourth among defensemen with 74 points (11 goals, 63 assists) in 78 games. He had 33 power-play points to lead Rangers defensemen, was second with 158 shots on goal and tied for third with a plus-18 rating. The 24-year-old was second on the Rangers during the playoffs with 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 20 games to help them advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
“He is pretty to watch, and patience is the key word,” Daneyko said. “He just has ice water in his veins. … He’s a special player. I don’t think anybody could have seen how good Adam Fox was going to become in such a short span, as far as winning the Norris Trophy [in 2020-21]. … He’s just fun to watch.”
Video: See where Fox lands in NHLN’s Top 20 Defensemen list
3. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
Josi led NHL defensemen with 96 points (23 goals, 73 assists) in 80 games, the most points in a season by a defenseman since Phil Housley had 97 points in 1992-93. He also led defensemen in power-play goals (11) and shots on goal (281), was runner-up for the Norris Trophy and was a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award as NHL most valuable player as voted by the NHL Players’ Association. The 32-year-old was eighth in the NHL in average time on ice per game (25:33) and he’s had at least 50 points in six of the past eight seasons. He won the Norris Trophy in 2019-20.
“He can really do it all because not only is he offensively talented, a magician at times with the puck, he is really good in his own zone, too,” Konroyd said. “I think Josi at some point in his career will win another Norris Trophy.”
2. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Hedman was third among NHL defensemen in points (85) and goals (20) and was second in assists (65) in 82 games last season. He was first at the position in power-play points (38), tied for first in game-winning goals (six), fifth in shots on goal (219) and had a plus-26 rating. The 31-year-old was 11th in the NHL in average ice time per game (25:05) and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy for the sixth straight season. He won the award in 2018 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2020, when he helped the Lightning win the Cup for the first of two consecutive seasons.
“Always near the top of the list for the past handful of years, Victor Hedman,” Daneyko said. “… For me, he is just that all-around defenseman, and for his size (6-foot-6, 241 pounds) we haven’t seen, that nobody can duplicate.”
Video: Josi, Hedman at #3 and #2 on Top 20 Defensemen list
1. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
Makar was voted the Norris Trophy last season after he scored 28 goals, the most by an NHL defenseman since Burns scored 29 in 2016-17. He tied for first among defensemen in game-winning goals (six), was second in points (86), plus/minus (plus-48), even-strength points (52) and shots on goal (240), and third in power-play points (34). Makar also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs; his 29 points (eight goals 21 assists) in 20 games was the fourth-highest total by a defenseman in playoff history, and the most since Brian Leetch had 34 points in 23 games in 1993-94. The 23-year-old is the first player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, Norris Trophy, Stanley Cup and Hobey Baker Award as the top men’s player in NCAA Division I hockey.
“He doesn’t have any deficiencies in his game,” Konroyd said. “Offensively, we know what he is capable of. He’s got that explosive speed, he has a high-hockey IQ. Defensively, he’s not too shabby. … What I like more about him than anything, he’s humble, he’s wholesome and he is a superstar.”
Video: Cale Makar headlines Top 20 Defensemen Right Now list
NHL.com is the official web site of the National Hockey League. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup, Center Ice name and logo, NHL Conference logos, NHL Winter Classic name, and The Biggest Assist Happens Off The Ice are registered trademarks and the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo, Stanley Cup Final logo, Stanley Cup Qualifiers name and logo, NHL.TV, Vintage Hockey word mark and logo, The Game Lives Where You Do, NHL Winter Classic logo, NHL Heritage Classic name and logo, NHL Stadium Series name and logo, NHL All-Star logo, NHL Face-Off name and logo, NHL Premium, NHL After Dark, NHL GameCenter, NHL GameCenter LIVE, NHL Network name and logo, NHL Tonight name and logo, On The Fly, NHL Network Showdown name and logo, NHL Awards name and logo, NHL Draft name and logo, NHL Mascots, Hockey Fights Cancer, Because It’s The Cup, NHL Green name and logo, NHL Vault, Hockey Is For Everyone, NHL Thanksgiving Showdown name and logo, NHL Centennial Classic name and logo, NHL Centennial Season logo, NHL100 Classic name and logo, NHL Global Series name and logo, NHL China Games name and logo, NHL Power Players name and logo, NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe name and logo, NHL Street name and logo, and Don’t Miss A Moment are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. © NHL 2022. All Rights Reserved. All NHL team jerseys customized with NHL players’ names and numbers are officially licensed by the NHL and the NHLPA. The Zamboni word mark and configuration of the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine are registered trademarks of Frank J. Zamboni & Co., Inc.© Frank J. Zamboni & Co., Inc. 2022. All Rights Reserved. Any other third party trademarks or copyrights are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.