An old mantra in hockey is that “offense wins games and defense wins championships.” The best NHL teams tend to have superior defensive cores. This year's Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks are a great example of this.
The process of developing a great top-four group is not easy. One of the key differences between young defensemen and forwards is that development time for defense prospects is almost always much longer.
Additionally, many defensemen do not see their overall games begin to peak until they are in their mid-20s. Learning defensive play is complex, both from an individual and a team standpoint. Developing defensemen from within the organization itself, seems to be the best method for NHL clubs.
Several players taken in this year’s draft may not be contributing regularly to their new NHL teams for at least two or three seasons, if not more. While elite forwards will often make the jump straight to the NHL, it is very rare for even top defensemen prospects to do so. Nashville's Seth Jones might be the exception this year.
With this in mind, here is a breakdown of every NHL team’s projected top two defensive pairings in 2017.
Basic stats can be found on nhl.com
Advanced stats are available on Behind the Net.
Salary information is from capgeek.com