NHL Positional Rankings: Ranking the league's top 10 defensemen
Right now it’s John Carlson as the best defenseman across the NHL and it’s not even really close.
Sure, that is something that Carlson will need to sustain all year as other elite D-men like Erik Karlsson, Roman Josi and Brent Burns get things cranked up. But for now Carlson is top-5 in the entire NHL in points to this point, and that is something that’s an incredible rarity at any point during an NHL season.
The 1.44 points per game that Carlson is averaging right now is more offense than Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews or Patrick Kane are currently providing, and he’s doing it will while holding the lowest shooting percentage (11.4 percent) in the NHL’s top-10 in scoring right now. Not surprisingly, Carlson is getting the kind of Norris Trophy talk that has eluded him in the past, and will be a favorite for the award if he can keep it up.
Given the way the Washington offense is performing these days, it’s a safe bet that Carlson will be up near the top among NHL defensemen this season barring anything crazy happening.
10. Kevin Shattenkirk
Special credit to Shattenkirk, who dusted himself off after being dumped by the Rangers and has become a missing ingredient to a Lightning squad using his offense. Shattenkirk has five goals and 16 points this season and looks like he’s got plenty left in the tank right now.
9. Ryan Ellis
The Predators have tons of quality on the back end per usual, and Ellis makes it a 1-2 combo for Nashville with his 18 points in 22 games. Barely any of his offense has come from the power play, so he’s doing it the old-fashioned way.
8. Alex Pietrangelo
The Blues D-man is having another strong season with six goals and 19 points in 24 games, and is bringing it at both ends while using his physicality and big point shot to maximum effectiveness. He is one of the pillars of that Cup-winning team.
7. Brent Burns
The Good: Burns has 21 points this season in 24 games. The Bad: Burns is a ridiculous minus-14 already. The Ugly: That beard is never going to be a thing of beauty.
6. Keith Yandle
The Florida defenseman has 18 points in 24 games and has been a big minutes guy for the Panthers, and has been an excellent PP quarterback with 10 of his 16 assists coming on the man advantage.
5. Shea Weber
The Canadiens defenseman is finally healthy and bringing the offense, defense and physicality the Habs thought they were getting when they shipped away P.K. Subban. Weber is a big part of the Montreal success story this season.
4. Roman Josi
Eleven of his 22 points this season have arrived on the power play, but Josi is still a very effective two-way defenseman for the Predators who is always a danger with the puck on his stick.
3. Cale Makar
The Avs offensive D-man has seven goals and 25 points in 23 games and has been exactly the type of impact blueliner Colorado thought they were getting when they wooed him away from college hockey last spring.
2. Dougie Hamilton
With the talented defenseman now in a small market like Carolina, perhaps it’s been exactly the right atmosphere for him to thrive. Dougie has 10 goals and 25 points in 24 games and finally plays the way Boston envisioned he would seven years ago when they drafted him.
1. John Carlson
The eight goals, the 36 points and the plus-15 in 25 games for the Capitals have him in the front seat of Norris Trophy consideration a month into the season. He’s really taken a step forward this year for Washington.