As noted last Tuesday, it is currently “NHL Network makes everybody mad online” month, which means it’s time to pore over the league’s Top 20 defencemen. Last week, we dissected their rankings of the Top 20 centres using percentile-based sorting, and came to the conclusion that most of the players that they included were close enough together that arguing about who should be placed where after Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby, short of an obvious bad-faith ranking, is probably not worth the aggravation, as every candidate had their own of elite contribution.
The defence rankings are a little different, in the sense that there are some “obvious” bad placements and flat-out omissions, but a lot of that comes down to what style of play you expect from defencemen. After all, some still see a defenceman’s primary objective as shutting down opponents, while others look at them as skaters who are just as important to transition and offence as forwards are in, finding themselves not as concerned with suppression as long as it works out in the aggregate. So let’s take a look at the group using the same approach, and see how these players are used what they do with their time. For reference, the below image shows the ranking that NHL Network came up with, along with five honourable mentions (Tyson Barrie, Ivan Provarov, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matthew Dumba, Aaron Ekblad).