Inspired by Puck Daddy, I have already ranked the top 25 centers and top 40 wingers in the NHL. Now, they’ve published a top 25 defensemen for 2011-2012 list. It’s still the offseason. I still really enjoy creating these lists. Naturally, I’m following suit once again. Here are my top 25 defensemen for this season.
25. P.K. Subban: In his first full season, Subban scored 14 goals and 38 points, while racking up the shots, hits, and blocks as well. Penalties were an issue, but Subban has a ton of potential, and is great with the puck.
24. Alex Pietrangelo: Pietrangelo, like Subban, has a ton of potential going forward. However, in his first full season he was even better than Subban, scoring 11 goals and 43 points with a plus-18 rating and a mere 19 penalty minutes. Also, he’s younger than Subban.
23. Christian Ehrhoff: Ehrhoff is now a big money man for Buffalo, thanks in part to an excellent year in Vancouver last season, and he’s scored 14 goals the past two seasons.
22. Dustin Byfuglien: I was never high on Byfuglien, but he really impressed last season scoring 20 goals and 53 points. If I was sold he could do that again, I’d have him higher on the list. However, I think we may have just seen Byfuglien’s career year.
21. Alex Edler: Edler was limited by injuries last season, but he still played a ton of minutes and scored eight goals and 33 points with a plus-13 in 51 games last season. Plus, at 25, he still has room to grow.
20. Marc Staal: Staal isn’t a big scorer, but he can contribute on offense, and he’s great on the defensive end of things. Since he’s, you know, a defenseman, that is pretty important.
19. Kris Letang: Got off to a great start last season before slowing down. Still, he managed to score eight goals and 50 points, and is great on the power play.
18. Dion Phaneuf: He hasn’t been as good in Toronto as he was in Calgary, but he’s still a big, bruising player with offensive skill as well.
17. Andrei Markov: The Canadiens would really like him to be healthy again. The last time he played close to a full season, he scored 12 goals and 64 points, and he’s one of the best power play blueliners out there.
16. Tyler Myers: He was impressive as a rookie, slumped a bit in his second year, but then bounced back in year three. Based on his size and age, comparisons to a young Zdeno Chara are quite easy. He may never be that good, but he has ton of potential.
15. Erik Johnson. The former first overall pick hasn’t quite lived up to that yet. However, he did have a serious golf cart injury hold him back, and maybe in Colorado he gets back into form.
14. Tobias Enstrom: Playing in Anaheim has kept Enstrom from being more well known, but he’s score 50 points the past two seasons playing on some less than stellar teams.
13. Mike Green: Some have said Green is too offensive minded. However, if you can score 31 goals and/or 76 points in a season as a defenseman, you still generate plenty of value. If he hadn’t had some struggles and injury issues last season, I’d probably have him in my top 10.
12. Dan Boyle: Boyle is 35 now, but he still managed nine goals and 50 points in 76 games last season, and he’s a great puck mover who played over 26 minutes per game last season.
11. Brent Burns: Finally healthy last season, Burns scored 17 goals and 46 points, and is also another great puck mover, although his plus/minus the past few seasons is concerning. Combining him with Boyle in San Jose should give the Sharks an amazing power play.
10. Lubomire Vosnovsky: I thought Visnovsky should have won the Norris last season. As such, I couldn’t keep him out of my top 10 defensemen. You were robbed, Lubomir!
9. Brent Seabrook: On most teams, Seabrook would be the top defenseman. In Chicago, he creates a dynamic duo with Duncan Keith. He doesn’t take a lot of penalties, and he scored a career high 48 points last season.
8. Ryan Suter: Suter is, in some ways, the Seabrook to Shea Weber’s Keith. He’s never scored more than eight goals, but he hasn’t had less than 33 assists the past three seasons, and he had 39 points and was plus-20 in 70 games last season.
7. Chris Pronger: He’s getting older and coming off of an injury, but he’s still an imposing presence on the ice and can contribute on offense.
6. Keith Yandle: Yandle got a deserved big contract from Phoenix this offseason. He scored 11 goals and 59 points last season, and he only turns 25 this season.
5. Nicklas Lidstrom: If Lidstrom wasn’t 41, he’d probably be number one on this list. He plays less minutes now, and he was a minus-2 last season, but he still scored 16 goals and 62 points last season and is rarely out of position. The ageless wonder could easily do it for one more season, but he has to slow down a bit eventually. Right?
4. Zdeno Chara: The big man with the biggest shot in the league was one of the key cogs in Boston’s excellent goal prevention. He had a plus-33 rating last season while scoring 14 goals and 44 points. He’s 34 now, but he should have a few more years left in him, even at his size.
3. Shea Weber: Nashville really hopes to keep Weber this offseason, and with good reason. He’s like a slightly smaller version of Chara in some ways, with his big shot and strong defense. However, he only turns 26 this season, so he may still have some room to grow.
2. Duncan Keith: Keith struggled a bit last season (45 points, minus-1 rating) but the year before that he won the Norris Trophy. I still believe in him and his ability, and I expect a major bounceback season.
1. Drew Doughty: Doughty doesn’t turn 22 until December, and he’s already the best defenseman in the league. He can play huge minutes. He’s great on the puck. He scored 11 goals and 40 points in 76 games last season. I fully expect him to win his first Norris this season.
There you have it. Once again, you can feel free to generate your own opinions. Expect a goalies list soon, if not tomorrow, although it will probably be a top 15 or so.