Skip to main content

I'm going to get into a couple of statistics here that aren't in wide use around the league, so if that's not up your alley, you were warned.

(That said, if you're unfamiliar with, I really recommend taking the time to check it out. Statistician Gabriel Desjardins presents all sorts of unique looks at the NHL with numbers he's invented that he explains here. I consider some much more useful than others, and there's a lot to digest there, but consider this a beginner's course.)

For a few years now, I've been using three of Behind The Net's stats to come up with rankings for defensive prowess among players: quality of competition, goals against per 60 minutes at even strength and goals against per 60 minutes while shorthanded. I've abbreviated those figures below as QCMP, EVGA and SHGA.

Story continues below advertisement

Taking defencemen who have played at least 30 games and who play a key role on their team's penalty kill (about two minutes or more a game), here's my ranking of the league's top defensive defencemen prior to Thursday night's games:

Lidstrom hasn't been getting all that much pub this season given his point totals are down, but he does have a plus-20 rating and is again, at age 39, facing top opposition every single night. I doubt he gets nearly as many Norris Trophy votes as he had in the past, but defensively, he has not slipped.

Keith, meanwhile, is probably the leading contender for the Norris after the season he's had (second in scoring among defencemen and a plus-21).

There are plenty of surprises on here, too, like Gorges in Montreal and Jovanovski in Phoenix. And you rarely if ever hear anything about players like Bryce Salvador outside of their market.

I'm interested in your opinion: Who's missing from this list and who shouldn't be there at all? What stock do you put in a purely statistical approach to determining top defensive players?

And a bonus question: Should there be a Rod Langway Award for the top defensive defenceman?

I'll use a similar approach to weed out the top defensive forwards sometime in the next week or so.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to