Season Preview: Top 10 Defencemen
Let's take a look at the top 10 defencemen for the upcoming 2017-2018 NHL season
1. Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson is the face of the Ottawa Senators franchise. He plays almost 30 minutes a game, the entire power play, and leads the team in points – all while being the captain. Karlsson is a special player in this league and the Sens success relies heavily on him. The expansion draft was not a great one for the Senators – losing Erik’s wingman Marc Methot to Vegas. There are a few players within the organization who could replace him on the left side of Karlsson, but the wound still hurts. The Norris runner up is looking to take back what is rightfully his, the coveted title of the best NHL defenseman.
2. Brent Burns
He is an absolute rock star in San Jose. The beard, the shot, the vision, and the body – Burns is a real life wrecking ball who loves to put up points. Coming off a Norris winning season, look for Burns to repeat this feat and recapture the title of best NHL defenceman. Norris and a Rocket Richard?? We will see.
3. Victor Hedman
Hedman flew under the radar last season and quietly was the runner up in points as a defenceman to no other than Brent Burns. Hedman is the back bone of the Tampa Bay Lightning that adds an offensive touch every time he is on the ice. He is a big guy who loves to shoot the puck, but also has the finesse to dish the puck to his teammates with some highlight reel plays. Tampa can only improve upon last season and let’s see if Hedman will lead the way for them.
4. Duncan Keith
The offensive minded Keith is something special to watch. A lot of the scoring credit goes to the big forward names on his team, but the back end is really where the plays all start. Keith has been a consistent leader in points by defenceman over the last few years. He is the quarterback of the power play and moves the puck up the ice like no other defender in the league. Keith will have an increasingly important role this season due to the salary cap struggle and Chicago having to part ways with several depth defenders.
5. Roman Josi
Roman Josi really proved who he was in this past season’s playoffs. Josi is your all around solid defender – he moves the puck well, allows for his goaltenders to excel and enjoys putting points up on the board. He is the leader of the best defensive core in the league and look to see him and the other players on Nashville to continue their success into this up coming season.
6. Alex Pietrangelo
Pietrangelo’s role will be a little different this year. The loss of Shattenkirk means a bigger offensive role for this well rounded defender. The captain of the Blues has led the team to successful seasons over the past half decade. The Blues defensive core is young and ready to step up in the absence of Shattenkirk. Alex will act as a mentor on the ice and prove that he is one of the best defenders in the league.
7. Drew Doughty
As of late – we are not hearing Doughty’s name like we use to. But, do not be mistaken – this guy has superstar talent written all over him. He leads the Kings in TOI year after year and has two cups on his resume. His value to his team comes in more than just goals and assists. He is a leader on and off the ice – look for Drew to have a big season this year. The pairing of Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty are in the talks for best pairing in the league.
8. Shea Weber
The unconventional 1-2 punch of Carey Price and Shea Weber is unmatched throughout the league. Weber, one of the most defensively sound players and Price, the world’s best goaltender are a threat to any NHL team. The big shot blocking defensemen with the scariest shot in the league rounds out a team that seems to have put all of their resources into these two guys. Look for Weber to have a tremendous season despite a few losses on the Canadiens blue line.
9. Ryan McDonaugh
McDonuagh might just have found his new best friend in Kevin Shattenkirk. This pairing is going to be something special to watch. McDonaugh is a defensive minded player with a high upside for offensive talent. Insert Shattenkirk into this mix and it might be a tad frightening to see how these two will work together. McDonaugh is a leader in TOI and the captain of his New York Rangers. This might be the pairing to watch for the upcoming NHL season.
10. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keep a watch on this man this upcoming year – he is poised to have a terrific season. Next to Burns, Ekman-Larsson is the second best goal scoring defenceman. He put up back to back 20 goal seasons playing on one of the worst offensively minded teams in the league. Arizona has put in work this off season and has made several changes to help bolster their roster. This team is looking to make an impact this season that will be led by their soon to be new captain in Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Notables* Mark Giordano, Cam Fowler, and Justin Schultz