The Best Defensemen in NHL History Hockey Players
Ultimate List
4  reranks 8,566 votes 1,767 voters 19,274 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
  • See list ranked by
</> Rerank List
Score
  1. 1
    Up 593
    Down 180
    1970 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 642
    Down 162

    the people's #1
    Bobby Orr

    1948 More
    97
  3. 3
    Up 224
    Down 126

    most listed
    Larry Robinson

    1951 More
    88
  4. 4
    Up 289
    Down 133
    1961 More
    83
  5. 5
    Up 258
    Down 132
    1962 More
    81
  6. 6
    Up 245
    Down 130
    1953 More
    80
  7. 7
    Up 401
    Down 137

    ranked low on reranks
    Ray Bourque

    1960 More
    79
  8. 8
    Up 165
    Down 96
    1924 More
    78
  9. 9
    Up 105
    Down 77

    often listed
    Red Kelly

    1927 More
    72
  10. 10
    Up 159
    Down 84
    1902 More
    70
  11. 11
    Up 191
    Down 104
    1968 More
    70
  12. 12
    Up 110
    Down 57
    1963 More
    67
  13. 13
    Up 115
    Down 82
    1930 More
    64
  14. 14
    Up 207
    Down 102
    1973 More
    63
  15. 15
    Up 240
    Down 123
    1964 More
    63
  16. 16
    Up 117
    Down 67
    1946 More
    60
  17. 17
    Up 113
    Down 58

    brad park

    59
  18. 18
    Up 75
    Down 82

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Pierre Pilote

    1931 More
    57
  19. 19
    Up 106
    Down 98
    1961 More
    52
  20. 20
    Up 113
    Down 72

    ranked low on reranks
    Guy Lapointe

    1948 More
    50
  21. 21
    Up 69
    Down 77
    1964 More
    49
  22. 22
    Up 166
    Down 135
    1977 More
    47
  23. 23
    Up 135
    Down 118
    1974 More
    45
  24. 24
    Up 39
    Down 24
    1969 More
    45
  25. 25
    Up 27
    Down 22

    Paul Coffey

    44
  26. 26
    Up 26
    Down 23
    1948 More
    44
  27. 27
    Up 17
    Down 14
    1972 More
    43
    added by: KarlisBalcers
    Player from Latvia! 
  28. 28
    Up 35
    Down 29
    1957 More
    43
  29. 29
    Up 31
    Down 31
    1955 More
    41
  30. 30
    Up 8
    Down 11
    1973 More
    41
    added by: willyboymcoy
  31. 31
    Up 37
    Down 95
    1956 More
    39
  32. 32
    Up 48
    Down 88
    1957 More
    35
  33. 33
    Up 48
    Down 122
    1983 More
    31
  34. 34
    Up 30
    Down 22
    1951 More
    31
  35. 35
    Up 7
    Down 37

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jack Stewart

    1917 More
    29
  36. 36
    Up 32
    Down 180

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Dion Phaneuf

    1985 More
    22
  37. 37
    Up 24
    Down 28

    ranked low on reranks
    Shea Weber

    1985 More
    22
    added by: BlakeMangone
  38. 38
    Up 8
    Down 9
    1971 More
    22
    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
  41. 41 +

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