NHL Power Rankings: The Top 50 Defensemen Right Now!

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2010

DETROIT,MI - OCTOBER 30:  Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings salutes the crowd upon being named one of the stars in a game against the Nashville Predators on October 30,2010 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit , Michigan. The Wings defeated the Predators 5-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

1.  Nicklas Lidstrom, DET- Even at 40, Lidstrom is still one of the best defensemen in the game.  He is defensively sound and offensively gifted, scoring 17 points in the first 15 games of the season.  Lidstrom leads by example and helps keep Detroit a perennial powerhouse.

2.  Mike Green, WSH- The most offensively talented defender in the league on the most offensively gifted team equals a defensive powerhouse.  Green has 13 points through his first 15 games.  He's pretty good in his own zone as well!

3.  Kris Letang, PIT- As much as the team has sputtered, Letang has been a main stay at the point and picked up the slack left by the departure of Sergei Gonchar.  Letang has 17 points in 18 games and has a +/- of +9 on a team that has had sub-par goaltending at times.

4.  Dustin Byfuglien, ATL- The former Blackhawk is really making himself known in the ATL this year and has picked up where he left off last year in the playoffs.  In 18 games with his new Atlanta team, he has 16 points and has been a major factor in several Thrashers wins.

5.  Lubomir Visnovsky, ANA- Visnovsky has been an offensive threat this year with 15 points in 19 games and he has taken over as the main defender in Anaheim after the departure of retired captain Scott Niedermayer.

6.  James Wisniewski, NYI- With the injury to Mark Streit, Wisniewski has taken the roll of top blue liner with the Islanders.  Wisniewski has 13 points through the first 15 games and was a big part of the Islanders early success.

7.  Zdeno Chara, BOS- This defensive monster will always be one of the best defensive defensemen because of his sheer size but his slap shot is devastating.   He has added seven points to the 27 hits and 24 blocked shots he has so far this year.

8.  Shea Weber, NSH- The best unknown player in the NHL is buried in Nashville.  Weber is solid defensively but has an impressive knack for knowing when to jump into the rush and let a shot sail.

9.  Chris Pronger, PHI- A menace on the ice, Pronger earns his space and has a tendency of getting people to make mistakes.  He is one of the best defenders in the game and his size allows him to cover a lot of ground.  Let’s not forget his huge slap shot on the power play or anytime for that matter.

10.  Duncan Keith, CHI- The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks needed a strong two way defender to step up and protect their team at both ends of the ice.  They found their man last year and Keith has carried his play into this current season with the ‘hawks.  Keith has 13 points through the first 20 games of the season.

11.  Sergei Gonchar, OTT- The addition of Gonchar to any defensive group instantly makes it one of the best in the league offensively.  He hasn’t skipped a beat and has 12 points through 17 games and the team is starting to get hot now.

12.  Dan Boyle, SJS- He is an offensive juggernaut with a great offensive team.  He has 12 points in 15 games with five of those points coming on the powerplay.  Boyle is solid defensively but he is known for his offensive prowess and the scary thing is, the Sharks aren’t even hot yet.

13.  Drew Doughty, LAK- Doughty has been injured early in the season but is now just getting back into the swing of things.  He leads a young core in Los Angeles and is one of the best all around defenders.  Doughty is only 21 and he has a lot of potential on a team with a ton of potential.

14.  Kimmo Timonen, PHI- People see Timonen as an offensive threat but he is so much more.  He is a penalty killer and a shot blocker.  Through the first 17 games, he has 10 points and has blocked 43 shots.  He is a beast on both ends of the ice and is the complete defender.

15.  Andrei Markov, MON- Injuries have plagued Markov over the years but when he is on the ice, he is amazing.  He controls the puck in the offensive zone like a forward and has the smarts to lead the defensive group to more solid play.

16.  Dan Hamhuis, VAN- Hamhuis won’t put up the numbers like some of the other defenders on this list but he is an amazing defender.  He hits and blacks shots and isn’t afraid to jump into the offensive play as well.

17.  Tomas Kaberle, TOR- With Phaneuf out, Tomas Kaberle has become the primary defender with the Maple Leafs.  He is a good offensive player but his skill in his own zone is what makes him as valuable as he is.

18.  Niklas Kronwall, DET- Another Red Wing, Kronwall has really used Lidstrom as learning tool and has morphed his game.  He is becoming a student of the game and plays really smart hockey.  His defensive prowess is complimented by his ability to be solid in the offensive zone.

19.  Ryan Whitney, EDM- It seems like the move from Anaheim to Edmonton did him a service for his career.  He was always a solid defender and he has continued that in Edmonton, blocking 30 shots in 16 games.  In Edmonton though, he has blossomed into a passer with 14 assists so far this season.

20.  John-Michael Liles, COL- With 13 points in his first 16 games, Liles has been the king of the blue line in Colorado.  The team is playing .500 hockey but you couldn’t tell by the play of Liles.

21.  Jack Johnson, LAK- The other half of the young defensive future of the LA kings, Johnson compliments Doughty and has really made a name for himself.  He has 13 points in 15 games and has added 13 hits and 28 blocked shots.

22.  Tobias Enstrom, ATL- Tobias Enstrom is another defender who gets no credit because he is buried on a small market team.  In Atlanta this year, Enstrom has 15 points and 11 of those are powerplay points.  Enstrom is solid in his own zone but his offensive abilities are what stand out.

23.  Dennis Wideman, FLA- The move from a Boston Bruins offense that was impressive to say the least, to a Florida Panthers team that is not great offensively.  He has played well, adding points and keeping his team in the plus while he has been on the ice.

24.  Brent Seabrook, CHI- Seabrook is the full package.  He is tough and rock solid in both zones. In 20 games with the Blackhawks this year, he has 10 points, 55 hits and 30 blocked shots.  That’s as two way as you can get.

25.  Kurtis Foster, EDM- With Edmonton being his third team in three years, he seems to be finding his niche.  He is huge at 6’5 and he is a great defensive defenseman that can take the body and smoother smaller forwards.

26.  Tyler Myers, BUF- After an amazing rookie campaign, he seems to be suffering from a sophomore slump.  He hasn’t fallen down much because even on a bad team, he has been solid in his own zone.  Myers may not jump up in the play as much but it is because he is concentrating on the defensive end.

27.  Bryan McCabe, FLA- When you see a defender as offensively talented as McCabe is, you think he would be a liability in his own zone.  Not only is McCabe a huge force with his shot from the point, he does play shut down defense when it calls for it.

28.  Dion Phanuef, TOR- Phaneuf has been hurt and even before wasn’t playing at 100%.  With all of that said, he is still a top ten defensemen and the only reason he is as low as he is, is because of the injuries.  Toronto needs him back fast though.

29.  Victor Hedman, TBL- Hedman is the shut down man in Tampa Bay who doesn’t mind laying out to block a shot or standing a forward up in the neutral zone.  He will get some points because of the offensive talent on the lightning but he is more of a defensive defenseman.

30.  Jordan Leopold, BUF- One of the bright spots of the Buffalo Sabres early in the season has to be the defense.  Leopold has been adding points to the mix with 13 over the first 18 games.  His defense is not bad either and his willingness to take the puck (30 blocked shots) will keep him on this list.

31.  Brent Burns, MIN- One of my favorite plays in the NHL, Brent Burns is a complete player.  He can score in many ways, he can pass, he can block shots and he can hit hard, plus he doesn’t mind playing solid shut down defense when the team calls for it.

32.  Ed Jovanovski, PHX- The reason the Coyotes went as far as they did last year was the solid play of the defensemen on the team.  At the forefront of that defensive revolution was Ed Jovanovski and his willingness to dedicate himself to being a stay at home defensemen. 

33.  Alexander Edler, VAN- Edler is the kind of defender who doesn’t get much press but does everything well.  In 16 games, Edler has 13 points, 30 hits and 35 blocked shots.  I wouldn’t mind having him on my team.

34.  Alex Goligoski, PIT- Goligoski has been a good two way defensemen that has really stepped up with the departure of Sergei Gonchar.  He will be a stay at home defensemen if it’s called for but he won’t be afraid to pinch and keep the puck alive in the offensive zone.

35.  Erik Karlsson, OTT- At only 20 years old, Karlsson has been a real force for the Senators.  He can put the puck in the net and shut you down at the other.  They say defense is the hardest position to play for a young player, but he looks just fine to me.

36.  Keith Yandle, PHX- Jovanovski has a friend in Yandle.  The defense in Phoenix has been solid and it is because they bought into the scheme and will do anything to keep the puck out of their net.

37.  Marek Zidlicky, MIN- Zidlicky is as solid a two way defender as you can find.  He is consistently in the top 50 year to year and has become one the best two way defensemen in the game.

38.  Jay Bouwmeester, CGY- Bouwmeester was disappointing in his first year with Calgary after signing a big free agent deal.  He is doing better this year but he is falling on this list if he doesn’t start helping the Flames win.

39.  Erik Johnson, STL- Although he has been hurt, his talent is undeniable.  When he is on the ice and healthy he is an offensive powerhouse who is hardly ever caught out of position.

40.  Christian Ehrhoff, VAN- Ehrhoff was a good pickup from the Sharks last year and he hasn’t looked back.  He was been one of the best offensive defensemen for the Canucks and he can play well in his own zone as well.

41.  Rostislav Klesla, CBJ- On a mediocre club, Klesla has really been the cream of the defensive crop.  Never mind his ability to pass the puck and open up plays down the ice, he is not afraid to take the body and sacrifice himself for the good of the team. 

42.  Mark Streit, NYI- He hasn’t played much this year but when he is healthy, the team will start winning again.  He plays both ends of the ice at 100% and his willingness to do whatever it takes will make him shot right up this ranking.

43.  Andy Greene, NJD- Playing in front of Martin Broduer is the good news, and the bad news is that your team can’t score.  No matter, Greene will just do whatever it takes to lay out and stop the puck from getting on net.  Greene has 42 blocked shots in 17 games.

44.  Stephane Robidas, DAL- When Sergei Zubov left the stars, there was a big pair of shoes to be filled.  Stephane Robidas stood up and took the defensive reigns.  He has taken over in both zones and his teammates have taken to his leadership.

45.  Roman Hamrlik, MTL- As much as he will use his body as a shield to keep the puck away from his goaltender, I think of Hamrlik as a passer.  He has the ability to stretch the ice and find the open man no matter how covered he is by the defenders.

46.  Joe Corvo, CAR- Carolina hasn’t been playing all that well this year but don’t look to Corvo for any blame.  His defensive play has been a bright spot on a bad year and he is willing to do whatever it takes to win.

47.  Jaroslav Spacek, MTL- He is a solid two way defensemen and nothing more.  He will throw in a couple points but his job is fundamental defense.  He can shut people down and pass out of the zone as well.

48.  Adrian Aucoin, PHX- Shut down defense.  When you need Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk stopped, you call on Mr. Aucoin.  He will take the body and drive off the opposing forwards into the boards.  He is a physical presence and can stop even the best players in the NHL on a nightly basis.

49.  Ian White, CGY- When not taking pucks off the face, Ian White is enjoying the relief of getting out of Toronto.  He plays better defensively and is a more complete player overall now that he is in Calgary.

50.  Michael Del Zotto, NYR- Del Zotto is a solid offensive defensemen and he is a good shut down defender.  Del Zotto has 36 hits and 32 blocked shots, all in an effort to keep his team in the game and the opposition off the scoreboard.


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