Super 16: Top NHL defensemen

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Who is the best defenseman in the NHL right now?

The vote was close, a near toss-up between the reigning winners of the Norris Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy. 

Maybe it was Victor Hedman‘s Norris win in 2017-18, before he won the Conn Smythe by helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup last season, that nudged him ahead of Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and into the top spot in the Super 16.

Hedman was ranked first by 11 of the participating NHL.com staff members and No. 2 by the other two, who each had Josi at No. 1. Josi was ranked No. 2 by 10 of the staff members.

 

[RELATED: Super 16: Top NHL forwards | #NHLTopPlayers Right Now]

 

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, the runner-up to Josi for the Norris Trophy last season, finished with enough voting points to land at No. 3, three points ahead of Alex Pietrangelo, now of the Vegas Golden Knights.

There were 32 defensemen representing 23 teams ranked by at least one of the 13 voters.

To create the Super 16, each of the 13 staff members put together his or her version of what they think it should look like. Those were submitted, and a point total was assigned to each. 

The defensemen that was selected first was given 16 points, second got 15, third 14 and so on down to No. 16, who got one point. 

Here is the Super 16:

 

1. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Total points: 206

Hedman was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, when he had 22 points, including leading all defensemen in the playoffs with 10 goals. Hedman won the Norris Trophy in 2017-18 as the best defenseman in the NHL and finished third in the voting last season. He has finished in the top three of the Norris voting in four straight seasons.

Video: Victor Hedman’s best plays of the postseason

 

2. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

Total points: 194

Josi won the Norris Trophy for the first time last season, when he led the Predators with 65 points (16 goals, 49 assists). He had a plus-22 rating while averaging 25:47 of ice time per game. Josi had 19 more assists and 17 more points than any other Nashville player. He was the first Predators player to win the Norris.

 

3. John Carlson, Washington Capitals

Total points: 153

Carlson led NHL defensemen with 75 points (15 goals, 60 assists) last season. He helped the Capitals win the Stanley Cup in 2018, when he had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 24 playoff games. Carlson has the most points among all defensemen in the past three seasons with 213 (43 goals, 170 assists) in 231 games.

 

4. Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas Golden Knights

Total points: 150

Pietrangelo helped the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup in 2019 by scoring 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) and averaging 25:45 of ice time in the playoffs. He was sixth among defensemen in scoring last season with 52 points, including a career-best 16 goals, and was fourth in the Norris Trophy voting. Pietrangelo signed a seven-year, $61.6 million contract with the Golden Knights on Oct. 13. 

 

5. Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets

Total points: 143

Jones had 30 points (six goals, 24 assists) in 56 games last season before an ankle injury ended his season Feb. 8. Only a handful of players play more minutes per game than Jones. He is 10th in the NHL in ice time per game (24:44) and fifth in even-strength ice time per game (20:18) in the past four seasons. In that same time, Jones was on the ice for fewer even-strength goals-against (252) than 23 defensemen who played fewer even-strength minutes per game than he did.

Video: TOR@CBJ, Gm3: Jones goes top shelf with wrist shot

 

6. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars

Total points: 116

Heiskanen led all defensemen in the playoffs last season by scoring 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 27 games. He has scored 68 points (20 goals, 48 assists) in 150 NHL games in his two seasons. The 21-year-old was the No. 3 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He averaged 23:25 of ice time per game in his two seasons.

 

7. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

Total points: 107

Makar was voted the Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie of the year last season, when he scored 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games, averaging 21:01 of ice time per game. He led all defensemen who played at least 50 games with 1.82 points per 60 minutes. Makar was ninth in the Norris Trophy voting.

 

8. Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes

Total points: 87

Slavin is fifth in the NHL in shot attempts percentage (55.0) since 2017-18 among the 204 defensemen who have played at least 100 games. He had a 55.4 SAT percentage last season, when he scored an NHL career-best 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) and had a plus-30 rating while averaging 23:24 of ice time per game in 68 games. It was his fourth straight season scoring 30 or more points. He was fifth in the Norris Trophy voting last season.

 

9. Shea Theodore, Vegas Golden Knights

Total points: 86

Theodore’s point production has increased in each of the past three seasons, from 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) in 61 games in 2017-18 to 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) in 79 games in 2018-19 to 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 71 games last season. He was nearly a point-per-game player in the playoffs last season with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 20 games. Theodore also led all defensemen last season with a 58.5 SAT percentage (minimum 20 games played). He was sixth in the Norris Trophy voting.

Video: VGK@DAL, Gm3: Theodore wires home PPG through traffic

 

10. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks

Total points: 72

Hughes was the runner-up to Makar for the Calder Trophy last season, when he led all rookies and was tied for fourth among all defensemen with 53 points (eight goals, 45 assists) in 68 games. He was tied for third among defensemen with 25 points on the power play. Hughes averaged 21:53 of ice time per game, second among all rookies. He then scored 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 17 playoff games.

 

11. Dougie Hamilton, Carolina Hurricanes

Total points: 58

Hamilton’s 55.4 SAT percentage since 2014-15 leads NHL defensemen (minimum 100 games played). He was on his way to the best season of his career last season, when he scored 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games before sustaining a season-ending leg injury Jan. 16. Hamilton was fourth among all defensemen in scoring at the time of his injury and was averaging 23:17 of ice time per game. He was seventh in the Norris Trophy voting.

 

12. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins

Total points: 57

Since the 2010-11 season, Letang, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins, ranks fifth among defensemen with 458 points (106 goals, 352 assists) in 591 games. He is second in points per game (0.77) among defensemen who have played more than one season. In that same time, he’s fifth in the NHL in average ice time per game (25:24). He scored 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists) in 61 games last season.

 

13. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins

Total points: 51

Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara received a lot of the attention in Boston last season, but it was McAvoy who was the Bruins’ most utilized defensemen and arguably their best. He averaged 23:10 of ice time, more than two minutes more than Krug and Chara. McAvoy scored 32 points (five goals, 27 assists) and had a plus-24 rating. He also had a 51.5 SAT percentage despite starting 50.8 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone or neutral zone. 

Video: TBL@BOS, RR: McAvoy hammers one-timer from point

 

14. Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens

Total points: 40

Weber has been one of the most consistently strong two-way defensemen in the NHL for more than a decade. He scored 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) in 65 games last season. He was on pace for what would have been his 10th season with 40 or more points. He started only 47.3 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone last season but still finished with a 54.3 SAT percentage. It was the fourth-highest SAT percentage among the 89 defensemen who started fewer than 50 percent of their shifts in the offensive zone (minimum 50 games).

 

15. Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets

Total points: 35

Werenski scored 41 points, including an NHL-high 20 goals among defensemen, in 63 games last season. He has scored at least 41 points in three of his four NHL seasons. He has scored in double digits in goals in each of the four seasons. 

 

16. Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers

Total points: 33

Provorov is coming off his best season since debuting in the NHL in 2016-17, and it was noticeable in how the Flyers played too. He scored 36 points (13 goals, 26 assists) in 69 games and was on pace for an NHL career-high 42 points before the pause. Provorov was plus-11 after being minus-16 with 26 points in 82 games in 2018-19. The Flyers finished tied for seventh in goals-against per game (2.77) last season. They were 29th (3.41 per game) in 2018-19, when Provorov struggled. 

 

Others receiving points: Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues, 28; Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks, 26; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings, 24; Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks, 23; John Klingberg, Dallas Stars, 16; Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues, 14; Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild, 12; Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes, 9; Ryan Ellis, Nashville Predators, 8; Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres, 7; Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild, 3; Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders, 3; Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs, 3; Thomas Chabot, Ottawa Senators, 2; Keith Yandle, Florida Panthers, 1; Ryan McDonagh, Tampa Bay Lightning, 1

 

HERE’S HOW WE RANKED ‘EM 

AMALIE BENJAMIN 

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. Seth Jones; 4. Alex Pietrangelo; 5. Dougie Hamilton; 6. John Carlson; 7. Cale Makar; 8. Miro Heiskanen; 9. Charlie McAvoy; 10. Shea Theodore; 11. Quinn Hughes; 12. Ryan Ellis; 13. Kris Letang; 14. Jared Spurgeon; 15. Jaccob Slavin; 16. Zach Werenski

TIM CAMPBELL

1. Roman Josi; 2. Victor Hedman; 3. Alex Pietrangelo; 4. Cale Makar; 5. Miro Heiskanen; 6. Shea Weber; 7. John Klingberg; 8. Oliver Ekman-Larsson; 9. John Carlson; 10. Ryan Suter; 11. Shea Theodore; 12. Torey Krug; 13. Jaccob Slavin; 14. Kris Letang; 15. Erik Karlsson; 16. Brent Burns./

BRIAN COMPTON

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. Seth Jones; 4. Alex Pietrangelo; 5. John Carlson; 6. Jaccob Slavin; 7. Shea Theodore; 8. Charlie McAvoy; 9. Miro Heiskanen; 10. Ivan Provorov; 11. Cale Makar; 12. Dougie Hamilton; 13. Quinn Hughes; 14. Ryan Pulock; 15. Brent Burns; 16. Thomas Chabot

NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. John Carlson; 4. Alex Pietrangelo; 5. Drew Doughty; 6. Cale Makar; 7. Miro Heiskanen; 8. Quinn Hughes; 9. Brent Burns; 10. Erik Karlsson; 11. Seth Jones; 12. Shea Weber; 13. Kris Letang; 14. Shea Theodore; 15. Jaccob Slavin; 16. Zach Werenski

TOM GULITTI 

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. Seth Jones; 4. John Carlson; 5. Alex Pietrangelo; 6. Jaccob Slavin; 7. Drew Doughty; 8. Miro Heiskanen; 9. Charlie McAvoy; 10. Kris Letang; 11. Shea Weber; 12. Shea Theodore; 13. Ryan Suter; 14. Zach Werenski; 15. Cale Makar; 16. Quinn Hughes

ADAM KIMELMAN

1. Roman Josi; 2. Victor Hedman; 3. John Carlson; 4. Jaccob Slavin; 5. Alex Pietrangelo; 6. Dougie Hamilton; 7. Seth Jones; 8. Cale Makar; 9. Quinn Hughes; 10. Ivan Provorov; 11. Zach Werenski; 12. Shea Theodore; 13. Kris Letang; 14. Morgan Rielly; 15. Shea Weber; 16. Torey Krug

ROBERT LAFLAMME 

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. John Carlson; 4. Alex Pietrangelo; 5. Jaccob Slavin; 6. Shea Theodore; 7. Zach Werenski; 8. Dougie Hamilton; 9. Seth Jones; 10. Cale Makar; 11. Charlie McAvoy; 12. Quinn Hughes; 13. Ivan Provorov; 14. Kris Letang; 15. Erik Karlsson; 16. Thomas Chabot

MIKE G. MORREALE

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. Seth Jones; 4. Miro Heiskanen; 5. Alex Pietrangelo; 6. Zach Werenski; 7. John Carlson; 8. Cale Makar; 9. Quinn Hughes; 10. Rasmus Dahlin; 11. Kris Letang; 12. Jaccob Slavin; 13. Shea Theodore; 14. Ryan Ellis; 15. Shea Weber; 16. Brent Burns

TRACEY MYERS 

1. Victor Hedman; 2. John Carlson; 3. Colton Parayko; 4. Seth Jones; 5. Roman Josi; 6. Alex Pietrangelo; 7. Torey Krug; 8. Miro Heiskanen; 9. Charlie McAvoy; 10. Dougie Hamilton; 11. John Klingberg; 12. Kris Letang; 13. Cale Makar; 14. Quinn Hughes; 15. Jaccob Slavin; 16. Brent Burns

SHAWN P. ROARKE 

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. John Carlson; 4. Shea Theodore; 5. Miro Heiskanen; 6. Kris Letang; 7. Jaccob Slavin; 8. Seth Jones; 9. Ivan Provorov; 10. Alex Pietrangelo; 11. Erik Karlsson; 12. Cale Makar; 13. Quinn Hughes; 14. Dougie Hamilton; 15. Torey Krug; 16. Keith Yandle

DAN ROSEN 

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. Seth Jones; 4. Shea Theodore; 5. Miro Heiskanen; 6. Shea Weber; 7. Alex Pietrangelo; 8. Cale Makar; 9. Jaccob Slavin; 10. Ivan Provorov; 11. Charlie McAvoy; 12. John Carlson; 13. Erik Karlsson; 14. Kris Letang; 15. Quinn Hughes; 16. Ryan McDonagh

DAVID SATRIANO

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. Quinn Hughes; 4. Seth Jones; 5. Miro Heiskanen; 6. Cale Makar; 7. John Carlson; 8. Brent Burns; 9. Alex Pietrangelo; 10. Kris Letang; 11. Torey Krug; 12. Erik Karlsson; 13. Dougie Hamilton; 14. Zach Werenski; 15. Jaccob Slavin; 16. Ryan Suter

MIKE ZEISBERGER 

1. Victor Hedman; 2. Roman Josi; 3. Seth Jones; 4. John Carlson; 5. Alex Pietrangelo; 6. Cale Makar; 7. Miro Heiskanen; 8. Shea Theodore; 9. Quinn Hughes; 10. Dougie Hamilton; 11. Charlie McAvoy; 12. Jaccob Slavin; 13. Torey Krug; 14. Shea Weber; 15. Drew Doughty; 16. Brent Burns

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