A lot of hockey publications put together their annual lists and quite often they are a little “out to lunch”. The lists are often biased with East coast favorites and quite often are based on players who have recently over achieved or had but one great season.
About ten years ago the Hockey Fanatic polled some NHL hockey fans and came up with our own series of top players by position. We began with a look at defensemen and ranked top 20 defenseman for 2012.
We thought it was time for us to update out list. So we present the Top Twenty NHL Defenseman as of 2023.
Top 20 NHL Defenseman – 2022/23
For those counting there are three defenders who made our 2023 list that were on our list from 2012. Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson and Alex Pietrangelo all made our list albeit with Karlsson (San Jose) and Pietrangelo (Vegas) now on different teams.
Here is an update to our Top 20 NHL defensemen list for 2022/23. Based mainly on point production but factoring in points per game averages, time on ice and other metrics as well. Charline McAvoy of the Bruins, for example is fourth in +/- for NHL defensemen with a +52 over the past two seasons. (Devon Toews leads all NHL players with a +67 over the past two seasons).
#1. Cale Makar – Colorado Avalanche – Makar won the Norris trophy, the Stanley Cup and the Con Smythe trophy last season. Over the past two season’s Cale Makar has the highest points per game ratio at 1.08 of all NHL defensemen.
#2. Roman Josi – Nashville Predators – over the past two seasons, Josi has posted the most points by any NHL defensemen with 137 in his past 128 games played.
#3. Adam Fox – New York Rangers – former Norris trophy winner, Fox is putting up nearly a point per game of the the past two seasons and is a +41 over his last 127 games played.
#4. Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning – Hedman has won a couple of Stanley Cups and played in a lot of post season games over the past four seasons. He’s fourth in defenseman scoring over the past two seasons with 118 points in 127 games.
#5. Quinn Hughes – Vancouver Canucks – Playing an average of 25:09 per game over his last 120 NHL games, Hughes is one of the league’s best defeneseman and is a +19 on a Vancouver team that should be better than it is.
Here is the round out of the rest of the top 20 NHL defenseman in 2022/23:
#6. John Carlson – Washington Capitals
#7. Charlie McAvoy – Boston Bruins
#8. Josh Morrissey – Winnipeg Jets
#9. Morgan Reilly – Toronto Maple Leafs
#10. Brent Burns – Carolina Hurricanes
#11. Drew Doughty – Los Angeles Kings
#12. Devon Toews – Colorado Avalanche
#13. Rasmus Dahlin – Buffalo Sabres
#14. Erik Karlsson – San Jose Sharks
#15. Rasmus Andersson – Calgary Flames
#16. Miro Heiskanen – Dallas Stars
#17. Aaron Ekblad – Florida Panthers
#18. Tony DeAngelo – Philadelphia Flyers
#19. Alex Pietrangelo – Vegas Golden Knights
#20. Brandon Montour – Florida Panthers
Here is a look at the top twenty NHL defensemen based on points from the past wo seasons (as of Feb. 5, 2023):
Here was our previous list from 2012:
Top 20 NHL Defenseman – 2012
Here is a look at the NHL’s top defensman for 2012.
- Shea Weber – Nashville Predators
- Drew Doughty – Los Angeles Kings
- Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators
- Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins
- Alex Pietranglo – St. Louis Blues
- Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
- Brian Campbell – Florida Panthers
- Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
- PK Subban – Montreal Canadiens
- Dan Boyle – San Jose Sharks
- Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets
- Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins
- Alex Edler – Vancouver Canucks
- Dion Phaneuf – Toronto Maple Leafs
- Keith Yandle – Phoenix Coyotes
- Michael Del Zotto – New York Rangers
- Kevin Bieksa – Vancouver Canucks
- Ladislav Smid – Edmonton Oilers
- Jack Johnson – Columbus Blue Jackets
- Tyler Myers – Buffalo Sabres
No shortage of Norris trophy candidates here. A number of great defensemen and a few that you would most likely not expect to see on the list.
If you don’t agree with the fans selections, email us thehockeyfanatics at gmail.com and let us know who you think the top defenseman in the NHL are. Selections are based on who you feel is the best overall defenseman and includes criteria such as defensive play, plus/minus, physical play, hockey smarts, points, goals, special teams and team contribution.