NHL: The 15 Best Offensive Defensemen in Playoff History

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NHL: The 15 Best Offensive Defensemen in Playoff History
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Throughout the hallowed history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the majority of the victorious teams had a unique element that helped propel them to the winners circle.

These teams had a"offenseman" commonly known today as a offensive defenseman.

Perennial cup winners like the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston BruinsNew York Islanders and the New York Rangers all possessed such a unique player.

It was once a secret weapon that most teams did not grasp. Now it is recognized by all NHL team management that without an "offenseman" and a good goaltender, they do not stand much of a chance of lifting the cup. 

Today, most of the NHL recognizes the value of a defender with the ability to carry the puck, make plays and deliver a big shot from the blueline. 

That defenseman with offensive skills capable of keeping the opposing team completely off balance is now worth his weight in gold.

When Hall of Famers like Bobby Orr and Brad Park patrolled the blue-line sporting long hair, charisma and bravado, Hall of Fame coaches like Scotty Bowman and acclaimed writers like Stan Fischler assailed the concept.

While behind the bench as coach of the St. Louis Blues, Bowman said he thought Orr should be moved to forward rather than be a fourth forward.

Later, Bowman must have re-evaluated his thought process, since he utilized Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard in his offensive scheme with the Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadians.

In recent history, up and comers like Shea Weber, Nick Lidstrom, PK Subban, Drew Doughty, Zdeno Chara and Cam Fowler have all contributed that element in slightly different forms for their teams and consequently helped them advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Despite some distorted NHL folklore, defenders contributing offensively to playoff success did not start with the great Bobby Orr, or even Doug Harvey or Red Kelly.

Eddie Shore, a four time Hart Trophy winner, stepped up his performance in the playoffs and was a spectacular rushing defenseman before Harvey, Kelly or Orr.

Today the defenseman with accomplished offensive skills and defensive competence can turn a  series around.

Yes Harvey did it, Kelly did too, and so did Orr, Potvin, Robinson and Lidstrom, but there were still more who added a dimension to their team others could not match. 

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