The Best Defensemen in NHL History Hockey Players
Ultimate List
4  reranks 8,603 votes 1,772 voters 19,458 views more info

The Best Defensemen in NHL History

List Criteria: Only defensemen, not goalies, centers or wingers

The best NHL defensemen of all time include Norris Trophy winners, Stanley Cup winners and some of the most talented players to ever put on a pair of skates. These professional hockey defensemen aren't just the best to ever man the blue line in the National Hockey League but also some of the best hockey players to ever play the game.

With the retirement of Detroit Red Wings captain Nick Lidstrom in May 2012, the argument over which defensive player is the best ever with two names dominating the discussion. Younger fans will swear that Lidstrom, who won the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in the NHL seven times, is the best NHL defenseman ever. As perhaps the most successful hockey player from Sweden, he played 20 years in the NHL, won four championships, became the first European-born player to captain a Stanley Cup-champion team and won the gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics, all while acting like a true professional and highly respected gentleman while doing so.

Others will argue that the best NHL defenseman of all time is hands down Bobby Orr. The long-time member of the Boston Bruins won the Norris Trophy eight times plus won the league's MVP award, the Hart Trophy, three times during his 12 seasons in the NHL. The Hockey Hall of Fame member not only still holds several league records but also changed how the game was played with his innovative style.

Lidstrom and Orr were one-of-a-kind players who will always be remembered as the top blue-liners to ever take the ice but they are far from the only highly talented defensemen in NHL history. The likes of Doug Harvey, Paul Coffee, Raymond Bourque, Eddie Shore and even Chris Chelios all had amazing careers as NHL defensemen and deserve lots of credit for that. But which NHL defenseman is the absolute best of all time? Vote for Team Lidstrom or Team Orr, or another player you think is deserving of the title below!
List is ranked by a combination of each item's votes & positioning in reranks
  • 4 ReRanks
    • Region
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Score
  1. 1
    Up 646
    Down 162

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Bobby Orr

    1948 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 596
    Down 180
    1970 More
    95
  3. 3
    Up 245
    Down 131
    1953 More
    83
  4. 4
    Up 403
    Down 137
    1960 More
    83
  5. 5
    Up 225
    Down 126
    1951 More
    83
  6. 6
    Up 166
    Down 96
    1924 More
    81
  7. 7
    Up 289
    Down 135
    1961 More
    77
  8. 8
    Up 259
    Down 132
    1962 More
    75
  9. 9
    Up 159
    Down 85
    1902 More
    73
  10. 10
    Up 111
    Down 58
    1963 More
    70
  11. 11
    Up 106
    Down 77

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Red Kelly

    1927 More
    66
  12. 12
    Up 116
    Down 82

    often listed
    Tim Horton

    1930 More
    66
  13. 13
    Up 207
    Down 104
    1973 More
    65
  14. 14
    Up 240
    Down 124

    ranked low on reranks
    Scott Stevens

    1964 More
    65
  15. 15
    Up 191
    Down 106
    1968 More
    63
  16. 16
    Up 118
    Down 67
    1946 More
    62
  17. 17
    Up 114
    Down 58

    brad park

    62
  18. 18
    Up 76
    Down 82

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Pierre Pilote

    1931 More
    59
  19. 19
    Up 114
    Down 72
    1948 More
    51
  20. 20
    Up 167
    Down 135
    1977 More
    49
  21. 21
    Up 135
    Down 118
    1974 More
    47
  22. 22
    Up 39
    Down 24
    1969 More
    46
  23. 23
    Up 106
    Down 100
    1961 More
    46
  24. 24
    Up 26
    Down 23
    1948 More
    45
  25. 25
    Up 36
    Down 29
    1957 More
    44
  26. 26
    Up 32
    Down 31
    1955 More
    43
  27. 27
    Up 69
    Down 78
    1964 More
    42
  28. 28
    Up 49
    Down 88
    1957 More
    36
  29. 29
    Up 37
    Down 95
    1956 More
    32
  30. 30
    Up 48
    Down 122

    often listed
    Duncan Keith

    1983 More
    31
  31. 31
    Up 30
    Down 22
    1951 More
    31
  32. 32
    Up 27
    Down 22

    Paul Coffey

    31
  33. 33
    Up 7
    Down 37

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jack Stewart

    1917 More
    30
  34. 34
    Up 17
    Down 14
    1972 More
    24
    added by: KarlisBalcers
    Player from Latvia! 
  35. 35
    Up 24
    Down 28
    1985 More
    22
    added by: BlakeMangone
  36. 36
    Up 32
    Down 181

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Dion Phaneuf

    1985 More
    22
  37. 37
    Up 8
    Down 9
    1971 More
    22
    added by: willyboymcoy
  38. 38
    Up 8
    Down 11
    1973 More
    21
    added by: willyboymcoy
  39. 39
    Up 7
    Down 13
    1968 More
    20
    added by: willyboymcoy
  40. 40
    Up 5
    Down 12
    1960 More
    19
    added by: willyboymcoy
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