Source: Getty Images
With the Centres and Wingers announced it's time we focus on the back end of the NHL’s All-Decade team, and with that, the Defencemen are on the clock. Who will be among the best defenders of the decade? Let’s see.
The former Senator and current day Shark has had a great decade to say the least. He leads the way in scoring and assists amongst all defenders, and has nabbed two Norris Trophies this decade all while finishing as the runner up twice. Karlsson even finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting three times. He's a six six time All-Star and impressively finished as first team All-Star four times.
While people have harped on his plus/minus, which is terrible, let's not forget about those bad Ottawa teams he played for. This decade he's had four seasons of 70 or more points and in the 2015-16 season he was a point a game player. Karlsson has become one of the premier offensive-defensive players in the league today.
The former number two pick has been a monster on the ice so far in his career. He's not a flashy defender like Karlsson and he doesn't score as much as other big-time defenceman, but that's never been Hedman's game. Victor Hedman is one the best defensive defenceman in the game by none. He's a big physical guy raking in four seasons of 80+ hits. A good skater, with great attention to detail, and players know that if you’re in the end boards you'll be meeting Victor Hedman at some point.
Offensively Hedman finished inside the top ten in total scoring among defenders, and ranks tenth in plus/minus with a plus 91. Hedman has been named to three All-Star games and he’s also added some hardware winning the Norris Trophy in 2017-18’, while being in the top 3 of voting for the Norris on two separate occasions. If Karlsson is the epitome of the offensive defenceman in the NHL, Hedman is equivalent to the defensive defenceman.
Another defenceman who has been one of the top scorers this decade is Sharks defenceman Brent Burns. He's second in scoring and is second with 54 PPG's this decade. Burns not only gets points but can score goals as well. He leads the position with 166 goals,16 more than second place Shea Weber. He averages the fifth most points per game by a defenceman, the last five seasons Burns has been on a tear, getting more than 60 points per season in that span.
The 34-year old has been a six time All-Star, and Burns has even captured a Norris Trophy in this decade. Burns on the ice has been pretty solid in terms of his team giving up goals. In total goals against, Burns has had six seasons where he finished in the top ten in that category. Offensively, he can be a juggernaut but doesn't get talked a lot about his defensive game, pundits should pay more attention.
The former second overall pick has been the backbone for the Kings on defense and leadership side of the game. Doughty isn't a high end offensive defenceman statistically, but defensively he’s a lot like Hedman with a gritty style of hockey. He blocks shots, hits and always plays against the opposing team's best player. The gritty defenceman was a big piece of the two Stanley Cups the Kings won this decade, and like many on this list, Doughty, has been to numerous All-Star games and won the Norris in 2015-16.
DD has been ranked in the top ten goals three different seasons among D-liners, and he hasn't missed a game in five seasons, pretty impressive. Whether chirping the opposing players or fighting with Mathew Tkachuck, Doughty has been one of the top defenders this decade. A borderline franchise player, Doughty is a player that many would love to have on their team but hate playing against on the ice.
In the back end of his career no doubt, Keith for the better part of the decade, was a top tier defenceman. He doesn't rack up a lot of points, but plays his position almost effortlessly. His skating is fantastic and is rarely caught out of position. Keith has snagged two Norris Trophies this decade, while being in the top ten in total goals against in four separate seasons.
Keith is also one of only ten defenders to win the Conn Smythe, being awarded the honour in the Blackhawks last Stanley Cup victory, Keith also has been a three time All-Star this decade. Duncan also is tenth in active players in plus/minus with a whopping +153, and for three seasons Keith was top 3 in total ice time, being one of the true workhorses in the NHL. His play and defensive awareness helped the Blackhawks garner success, considering they never had a top end goalie in net.
The lone player on this list who hasn't won a Norris Trophy is Blues Captain Alex Pietrangelo. The thing with Pieterangelo is that he's not like many on this list when it comes to playing with the puck. Many above him can score, have good plus/minus but none of those guys I've listed can handle the puck like the Blues defenceman. If you need the puck out of your zone, Pietrangelo is your guy, if you are on the penalty kill and you want somebody to clear it out of the danger zone, Pietrangelo can do that. He makes the smart decision.
Offensively he's sixth in points this decade, and while he hasn't won the Norris he's finished in the top ten in voting on three different occasions. A Stanley Cup winner last season, Pietrangelo has been like many here, the face of their team on defence.
A former Norris trophy during the shortened 2012-2013 season, Subban has a fiery personality and has the game to back it up. He’s ninth in scoring and one of small selected D-men that hit the century mark in goals in this decade. A three time All-Star this decade, and has garnered two additional Norris nominations.
Subban can deliver a hit and be physical at times, he’s a shot blocker, penalty killer, and a powerplay QB, Subban does it all.
Weber has not won the Norris trophy but has come close a few times, in fact, he’s been in the top five for voting five different times and a runner-up twice. He's been a consistent 40-50 point defenceman in his career with a booming slap shot. A menace on the powerplay hitting double digit goals in that category four times. Twice this decade he's gotten over 20 goals.
Weber also won the Messier leadership award, being one of the best captains in the league. While being selected to the All-Star game four times this decade. When Weber got traded to Montreal in 2016, for PK Subban, it looked like Weber’s career was going into the light, that has not been the case.
The Flames captain is last on the list, and while he doesn't put up big numbers, the former Norris Trophy winner has been the staple of the Flames back end for over a decade. Giordano ranks twelfth in scoring and had a career high in scoring last year at age 36. Giordano has played better in his 30's than his 20's.
The Toronto native has become a defenceman that has flown under the radar but has no doubt become an elite defenceman and isn't afraid to hit or take hits. He's got a Norris under his belt and was in the top ten of Norris voting three other times.