hockey players The Best Defensemen in NHL History  

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List Rules 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 ordered by

1
1,545 309
Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Bobby Orr Parry Sound, Canada

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2
1,319 384
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Nicklas Lidström Krylbo, Sweden

3
392 144
Raymond Bourque is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
lisaann33 added Raymond Bourque

4
679 309
Paul Coffey is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Paul Coffey Weston, Ontario, Toronto

5
594 292
Denis Potvin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Denis Potvin Gatineau, Hull, Canada

6
483 235
Doug Harvey is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Doug Harvey Montreal, Canada

7
427 204
Al MacInnis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Al MacInnis Inverness County, Canada

8
442 219
Eddie Shore is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Eddie Shore Fort Qu'Appelle, Canada

9
549 289
Scott Stevens is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Scott Stevens Kitchener, Brantford, Canada

10
410 219
Guy Lapointe is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Guy Lapointe Montreal, Canada

11
293 152
Börje Salming is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Börje Salming Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

12
284 156
Erik Karlsson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
WilsonS05 added Erik Karlsson Landsbro, Sweden

13
391 218
Brad Park is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Brad Park Toronto, Canada

14
266 127
Viacheslav Fetisov is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Viacheslav Fetisov Moscow, Russia

15
329 179
Red Kelly is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Red Kelly Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

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16
272 168
Shea Weber is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
BlakeMangone added Shea Weber Sicamous, Canada

17
352 270
Duncan Keith is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Duncan Keith Winnipeg, Canada

18
401 235
Chris Pronger is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Chris Pronger Dryden, Canada

19
281 179
Doug Wilson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Doug Wilson Ottawa, Canada

20
508 246
Scott Niedermayer is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Scott Niedermayer Edmonton, Canada

21
258 123
Rod Langway is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Rod Langway Taipei, Taiwan

22
250 111
Mark Howe is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Mark Howe Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

23
210 113
Drew Doughty is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Drew Doughty London, Canada

24
575 256
Chris Chelios is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Chris Chelios Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

25
526 266
Larry Robinson is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Larry Robinson North Dundas, Ontario, Canada

26
160 82
Gary Suter is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Gary Suter Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America

27
132 60
Dit Clapper is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Dit Clapper Newmarket, Canada

28
155 110
Paul Reinhart is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Paul Reinhart Kitchener, Brantford, Canada

29
240 199
Randy Carlyle is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Randy Carlyle Greater Sudbury, Canada

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30
238 181
Pierre Pilote is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Pierre Pilote Jonquière, Saguenay, Canada

31
146 117
Darius Kasparaitis is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
JasonFonner added Darius Kasparaitis Elektrėnai, Lithuania

32
151 79
Al Iafrate is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Al Iafrate Dearborn, Michigan, United States of America

33
438 219
Brian Leetch is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Brian Leetch Corpus Christi, Texas, United States of America

34
165 101
Brian Rafalski is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
willyboymcoy added Brian Rafalski Dearborn, Michigan, United States of America

35
126 50
Ryan Suter is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
lnlap added Ryan Suter Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America

36
128 70
Kevin Hatcher is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Kevin Hatcher Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

37
128 90
Craig Hartsburg is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Craig Hartsburg Stratford, Canada

38
161 44
Vladimir Konstantinov is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Vladimir Konstantinov Murmansk, Russia

39
110 54
Ron Greschner is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
willyboymcoy added Ron Greschner Goodsoil, Canada

40
387 264
Zdeno Chára is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Zdeno Chára Trenčín, Slovakia

41
113 64
Ranker Video
slaft added Carol Vadnais Montreal, Canada

42
270 172
Larry Murphy is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Larry Murphy Scarborough, Toronto, Canada

43
108 54
Alexei Kasatonov is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
adam.kane.lairt added Alexei Kasatonov Saint Petersburg, Russia

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44
112 59
Reed Larson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Reed Larson Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America

45
295 186
Tim Horton is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Tim Horton Cochrane, Canada

46
282 167
Serge Savard is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Serge Savard Montreal, Canada

47
111 68
Babe Pratt is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Babe Pratt Stony Mountain, Manitoba, Canada

48
95 40
Pat Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
slaft added Pat Stapleton Sarnia, Canada

49
86 56
Bruce Driver is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Bruce Driver Etobicoke, Toronto, Canada

50
70 32
Harry Howell is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
robm64 added Harry Howell Hamilton, Canada