Minnesota Wild Season Preview; Ranking the Northwest Division Defensemen

Joseph GuntherContributor IAugust 24, 2010

EDMONTON, CANADA - MARCH 5: Brent Burns #8 of the Minnesota Wild skates for the puck against the Edmonton Oilers on March 5, 2010 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Dale MacMillan/Getty Images

The National Hockey League’s Northwest Division is known for defense, more specifically the goaltenders.

However, the division’s defensemen play a big role in defending the goal while providing offensive help.

The Vancouver Canucks added to two of the offseason's biggest acquisitions with the trades for Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard. It already Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler and Sami Salo in its defensive group. This is one of the deepest unit in the NHL.

The Colorado Avalanche are a solid team, but the defensive group is the weakest part of the team. Scott Hannan and John-Michael Liles are team's top two. Kyle Cumiskey and Adam Foote are going in different directions in their respective careers.

The Calgary Flames have a solid top pairing with Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr. The rest of group is led by veteran Steve Staios, who was acquired at the trade deadline last season.

The Minnesota Wild, like the Canucks, have one of the deepest defensive units in the NHL. The team is led by offensive threats Brent Burns and Marek Zidlicky and defensive stars Nick Schultz and Greg Zanon. The team acquired Cam Barker just prior to the Olympic break.

The Edmonton Oilers are still looking to find out who its top defensemen are going to be. Tom Gilbert, Sheldon Souray and Taylor Chorney are the top candidates to be on the top pairing.