Every year the top defensemen win the Norris Trophy with large offensive numbers and good defensive play. Think of names like Nick Lidstrom, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermeyer and Zdeno Chara.
But it is the blue-collar defensemen that can also make a big difference in their team's fortunes through much more than goals, assists or plus-minus. These defenders make opposing forwards black and blue with hits by making them pay in the corners or coming across the blue line. They help their goalie by sacrificing their bodies blocking shots, and they take the puck away from skilled forwards and turn the puck around to help their team go on the offensive.
This list is based on statistics from the 2012 NHL regular season. We place value on hits, blocked shots and takeaways on this list.
Let's take a look at the top 20 NHL blue-collar defensemen for the 2012 regular season.