The defensemen in the NHL are responsible for controlling the pass of a hockey game as well as driving offense and stopping the other teams offense. This is a list of the top 5 NHL defensemen of all time.
5. Denis Potvin
Denis Potvin was the captain of one of the greatest teams of all time in the early 1980s New York Islanders who won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-1983. He also won three Norris Trophies and totaled 1,000 career points.
He totaled 1,052 career points in 1,060 career games leaving him just short of a point per game for his career, which is almost insane for a defensemen in any era. One of the best all around defensemen there wasn’t a weakness to his game. He could skate, pass, score, and most of all be a leader for a dynasty.
From 1974-75 to 1978-79 he finished top five in Norris voting all five seasons and had four consecutive seasons of over a point per game, topping 90 points three times, and once topping 100.
4. Paul Coffey
Paul Coffey was one of the greatest passing defensemen the game has ever seen. His ability to start the rush, or join the rush, was truly something special. He still has the record for most points in a game by a defensemen with eight.
He also has the most goals in a season by a defensemen with 48. Coffey ranks second all time in career points by a defenseman with 1,531. He also won four stanley cups during his career along with three Norris Trophies.
Coffey was the definition of a river boat gambler on the blue line, and that is the reason he doesn’t rank higher on this list. He didn’t have any offensive weakness, but would play out of position way too much during his career leaving his teammates in tough positions.
3. Ray Bourque
Ray Bourque is the all time leader in points scored in a career as a defensemen with 1,579. From 1979-80 to 1995-96 he finished top five in Norris voting every year, winning the award a total of five times.
He didn’t possess the same offensive dominance as Coffey but his overall defensive game was superior and that’s what ranks him above Coffey. In his final season Bourque would finally win the Stanley Cup cementing his legacy and place on this list.
Bourque had one of the longest careers, and primes, of any defenseman to ever play the game and that is why he ranks this high on this list.
2. Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr was easily the most electrifying defensemen of all time. Becoming the only defensemen ever to win the Art Ross trophy, doing so twice, he dominated like no other defensemen for an eight year stretch from 1967-68 to 1974-75.
He won eight consecutive Norris trophies, which is also the most of all time. Orr also won three Hart trophies which is the second most ever by a defender. The reason Orr isn’t number one on this list is that he only played 12 seasons compared to 20 from the number one guy on this list.
Orr was revolutionary for the position and could easily be number one but another tie breaker was he only won two Stanley Cups compared to number one’s four.
1. Nicklas Lindstrom
Nicklas Lindstom is the complete player on and off the ice. The most well rounded defenseman to ever play the game, his ability to control a game was like no one that has ever played the game.
He won the Norris Trophy seven times which is the second most ever by a defensemen and won four Stanley Cups, while also becoming the first European born player to win the Conn Smythe.
Lindstrom ranks sixth all time in career points as a defensemen, despite playing the majority of his career during the toughest era to score in NHL history. A 20 year career he was the model of consistency and that is why he ranks as the greatest defensemen to ever play the game.
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