A great puck-moving defenseman is one of the key ingredients to Stanley Cup success. How many championship teams can you name that didn't have at least one of the league's most dangerous blue-line threats in their lineup? Teams like Chicago and Montreal could have a critical advantage over the other six remaining teams.
To find this postseason's best puck-moving defensemen is no easy task. A variety of scoring-based statistics must be used, including an estimate of the number of shots each defenseman sets up. Player usage must also be taken into account.
Regular-season performances also have to give way to postseason results. That's why solid puck-moving defensemen without any assists like Kris Letang, Zdeno Chara and Ryan McDonagh don't make the cut.
On the flip side, defensemen with a lot of assists like Dan Girardi, Francois Beauchemin and Alec Martinez can be excluded because their regular-season totals make it clear that they're not puck movers, but rather shutdown defensemen who have recorded a few assists.
In the end this analysis took me back to my first piece for ESPN Insider way back in the 2009 playoffs, when I first explored the importance of puck-moving defensemen in the postseason. How little things have changed! Let's begin.
Player usage and on-ice scoring information from Extra Skater; passing and all other advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.