It is no secret that having an elite level defenseman has endless benefits. Modern day hockey involves a 5 player attack more than ever before. Having a smart, skilled player who can jump into the rush opens up a lot more options for the team. The position has evolved significantly, and offensive D-men are much more prevalent. However, in this article we will be focusing on the best defenseman with regards to all aspects of the game. As skilled as Subban and Karlsson are offensively, one way players like them will not make this list. Similarly, players who excel defensively, but lack an offensive game will not make the list either. As much as I like Marc-Edouard Vlasic and similar players, they will not be making the cut. I pursued players who dominate all areas of the game, and have very few weaknesses.
5. Alex Pietrangelo: This guy makes my list because he is already proven at the young age of 25. He has eclipsed 40 points four times, and 50 points twice. I have selected Pietrangelo because of his stellar hockey IQ and defensive prowess. He is a big bodied defenseman who uses his size extremely well. He is a quick skater given his size, and he is very quick with the puck. He has achieved all this while playing in the central division, which was easily the best division last season. He always matches up against the oppositions top line, which makes his success that much more remarkable. I expect these trends to continue as he matures with age.
4. Mark Giordano: Unlike many of the players on this list, Giordano has been through some serious struggles to get where he is today. He was never drafted and it took quite some time for him to find a permanent spot with the Flames. Giordano might have taken a long time to develop, but he has solidified himself as the best player on the Flames. and earned himself the captaincy. In his last two seasons, he has played 125 regular season games, putting up 95 points and going plus 15. His offensive output has increased significantly without any negative impact on his defensive game. He makes my list because he is able to perform regardless of the situation. He is a born leader and has done wonders to make his young team better on and off the ice.
3. Drew Doughty: Since being drafted second overall in 2008, Doughty has been one of the best defenders in the league. He possesses all the abilities to contribute at both ends of the ice. He is an extremely good skater for his size, and uses that ability to take away time and space in his defensive zone. Offensively, he is a natural power-play quarterback. He has unbelievable vision and a great shot which leaves the opposition scrambling. Despite the terrible season for the LA Kings, Doughty posted 46 points playing without his usual partner Slava Voynov; who was suspended by the team in October for off-ice issues. I anticipate that Doughty will be at the forefront of a Kings bounce-back season.
2. Shea Weber: He is one of the most physically dominant players in the NHL. The captain of the Predators literally has no weaknesses in his game. He moves well, throws the body, and is a very intelligent defender. He has surpassed 40 points in each of the past 7 seasons, and even reached 56 points just two seasons ago. This offensive production has a lot to do with his shot. Besides Zdeno Chara, Weber likely has the most lethal slap shot in the game. This threat from the point opens up a lot of extra space for his teammates. What separates Weber from many defenseman out there, is his ability to lead his team. He is not only a spectacular talent, but he always sticks up for his teammates. His team first mentality combined with his physical dominance puts Weber in a league of his own. He was an easy selection for my top 5.
1. Duncan Keith: There is no question that Duncan Keith is currently the best defenseman in the world. He excels at every part of the game and is a pure winner. The three time all star has won three Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic gold medals, 2 Norris Trophies, and the Conn Smythe trophy. He is one of the best skaters in the league, and possesses phenomenal quickness moving both forward and back. He has unparalleled hockey IQ and can play both penalty kill and power-play. I anticipate that he will dominate for another 4 or 5 years as he has yet to slow down with age. Offensively, he is no slouch either. He quietly puts up 40+ points each season, and has even broke the 60 mark on two occasions. In my books, he is the most important player to the Chicago Blackhawks success, and will continue to shine on their blue line.