The best defensive forwards in the NHL could also be ranked on a list of the league's most dedicated and hardest working players.
Defense is at least 50 percent of the game and the players who are most effective study their opponents and put themselves in a position to break up opposing offensive plays on nearly every shift they skate.
The NHL gives out the Frank J. Selke Award every season to honor the best defensive forward. Perhaps the game has never known a better defensive forward than former Montreal Canadiens forward Bob Gainey, who was widely perceived as the game's best defensive player before the award was first given after the 1977-78 season.
Gainey who combined skating speed and physical strength with intelligence and tenacity, won the Selke Award the first four years it was handed out.
Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings has won the award three times and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins won it last season. Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks is also considered one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL as well as one of its top all-around players.