The Best Defensemen in NHL History Hockey Players
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4  reranks 8,328 votes 1,824 voters 21,615 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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</> Rerank List
Score
  1. 1
    Up 665
    Down 170

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Bobby Orr

    1948 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 621
    Down 185
    1970 More
    95
  3. 3
    Up 305
    Down 142
    1961 More
    85
  4. 4
    Up 249
    Down 137
    1953 More
    82
  5. 5
    Up 229
    Down 130
    1951 More
    82
  6. 6
    Up 171
    Down 100
    1924 More
    80
  7. 7
    Up 123
    Down 65
    1948 More
    78
  8. 8
    Up 266
    Down 138
    1962 More
    75
  9. 9
    Up 164
    Down 91
    1902 More
    72
  10. 10
    Up 118
    Down 60
    1963 More
    70
  11. 11
    Up 110
    Down 80

    often listed
    Red Kelly

    1927 More
    66
  12. 12
    Up 122
    Down 85
    1930 More
    66
  13. 13
    Up 215
    Down 107
    1973 More
    65
  14. 14
    Up 247
    Down 130
    1964 More
    65
  15. 15
    Up 198
    Down 109
    1968 More
    63
  16. 16
    Up 122
    Down 70
    1946 More
    61
  17. 17
    Up 79
    Down 86
    1931 More
    59
  18. 18
    Up 117
    Down 75
    1948 More
    51
  19. 19
    Up 175
    Down 144
    1977 More
    48
  20. 20
    Up 44
    Down 26
    1969 More
    46
  21. 21
    Up 140
    Down 124
    1974 More
    46
  22. 22
    Up 109
    Down 105
    1961 More
    45
  23. 23
    Up 41
    Down 33
    1955 More
    44
  24. 24
    Up 38
    Down 34
    1957 More
    43
  25. 25
    Up 70
    Down 82
    1964 More
    41
  26. 26
    Up 52
    Down 90
    1957 More
    35
  27. 27
    Up 38
    Down 100
    1956 More
    30
  28. 28
    Up 33
    Down 24
    1951 More
    30
  29. 29
    Up 51
    Down 129

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Duncan Keith

    1983 More
    30
  30. 30
    Up 7
    Down 42

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jack Stewart

    1917 More
    27
  31. 31
    Up 21
    Down 16

    ranked low on reranks
    Sandis Ozoliņš

    1972 More
    23
    added by: KarlisBalcers
    Player from Latvia! 
  32. 32
    Up 29
    Down 30
    1985 More
    22
    added by: BlakeMangone
  33. 33
    Up 13
    Down 14

    ranked low on reranks
    Brian Rafalski

    1973 More
    21
    added by: willyboymcoy
  34. 34
    Up 34
    Down 191

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Dion Phaneuf

    1985 More
    21
  35. 35
    Up 9
    Down 12
    1971 More
    20
    added by: willyboymcoy
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