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Top-5 defensemen in the Western Conference?

November 18, 2020, 10:20 AM ET [9 Comments]
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In this edition of the hotstove, we rank the top-5 defensemen in the Western Conference.

Todd Cordell

1. Roman Josi - Josi is a flat-out superstar. He is a one-man breakout and electric in transition. He can pick defenses apart with passing in the offensive zone and he always seems to find soft spots to create chances for himself. I’m not sure there is a better offensive D in the league and his defensive game is better than most of the other high point producing D (John Carlson, Erik Karlsson, etc.).

2. Alex Pietrangelo - He ranks 2nd among all WC defenders in Goals Above Replacement over the last three years. He is elite offensively, reliable in his own zone, and he takes very few penalties considering the minutes he plays in volume and difficulty. I’ll give him a slight edge over the younger group for now.

3. Jared Spurgeon - The Minnesota Wild were not a good team. I mean, they ranked 21st in points last season. Even so, Spurgeon still managed a plus-14 goal differential while primarily facing elite competition at 5v5. The Wild were expected to score ~57% of the goals with Spurgeon on the ice, the 4th highest number among regular defenders in the NHL. Spurgeon doesn’t put up 100 points, or fill the highlights, but his two-way impact is elite.

4. Shea Theodore - Theodore is the Canadian version of Roman Josi. Elite skater, elite in transition, always up in the play, and creates an immeasurable amount of offense.

5. Quinn Hughes - I give Hughes the slight edge over Cale Makar because his production was very similar despite worse playing circumstances, and Hughes’ was more of a bus driver. His relative impacts were among the largest in the league while Colorado was as good or better without Makar on the ice.

Honorable mentions go to Cale Makar and Miro Heiskanen because I feel gross not having them listed. Next year.

Sean Maloughney

1.) Roman Josi - Norris Trophy winner who ranked third in average ice time last season while putting up a career high 65 points. Josi is one of the most consistent players in the game and while I have Hedman as my top defender in the league overall, Josi is closing the gap.

2.) Miro Heiskanen - I love what this kid can already do at 21 years of age. He truly showed off what he is capable of in the playoffs where he put up 26 points in 27 games. His performance there reminded me of what Karlsson did with the Sens in 16/17.

3.) Alex Pietrangelo - Another veteran who has been around for years logging big minutes and producing at a high consistent rate. He has a big new contract in Vegas but should still impress there for years to come.

4.) Cale Makar - Calder Trophy winner and part of this new exciting group of skilled puck moving defenders. Heiskanen, Makar, and the next player on this list are all extremely young but are already making massive impacts for their teams.

5.) Quinn Hughes - The gap between Hughes and Makar is very thin and while Makar gets the nudge due to his offensive prowess on top of high possession numbers, Hughes might be the better true defender. His IQ and cerebral ability to get into the exact shooting lane he needs to will help him for years to come.

Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com and Evolving-Hockey.com.

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