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
1,591 321
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
1,371 400
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Nicklas Lidström Krylbo, Sweden

3
430 151
Raymond Bourque is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
lisaann33 added Raymond Bourque

4
699 323
Paul Coffey is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Paul Coffey Weston, Ontario, Toronto

5
613 306
Denis Potvin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Denis Potvin Gatineau, Hull, Canada

6
496 245
Doug Harvey is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Doug Harvey Montreal, Canada

7
441 215
Al MacInnis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Al MacInnis Inverness County, Canada

8
454 229
Eddie Shore is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Eddie Shore Fort Qu'Appelle, Canada

9
318 166
Erik Karlsson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
WilsonS05 added Erik Karlsson Landsbro, Sweden

10
568 299
Scott Stevens is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Scott Stevens Guelph, Kitchener, Canada

11
420 230
Guy Lapointe is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Guy Lapointe Montreal, Canada

12
304 165
Börje Salming is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Börje Salming Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

13
399 230
Brad Park is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Brad Park Toronto, Canada

14
277 138
Viacheslav Fetisov is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Viacheslav Fetisov Moscow, Russia

15
336 187
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
284 185
Shea Weber is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
BlakeMangone added Shea Weber Sicamous, Canada

17
359 285
Duncan Keith is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Duncan Keith Winnipeg, Canada

18
419 244
Chris Pronger is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Chris Pronger Dryden, Canada

19
531 248
Scott Niedermayer is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Scott Niedermayer Edmonton, Canada

20
285 189
Doug Wilson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Doug Wilson Ottawa, Canada

21
266 128
Rod Langway is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Rod Langway Taipei, Taiwan

22
256 117
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
549 269
Larry Robinson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Larry Robinson North Dundas, Ontario, Canada

24
221 126
Drew Doughty is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Drew Doughty London, Canada

25
592 264
Chris Chelios is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Chris Chelios Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

26
162 93
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
137 64
Dit Clapper is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Dit Clapper Newmarket, Canada

28
158 115
Paul Reinhart is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Paul Reinhart Kitchener, Brantford, Canada

29
242 185
Pierre Pilote is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Pierre Pilote Jonquière, Saguenay, Canada

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30
243 207
Randy Carlyle is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Randy Carlyle Greater Sudbury, Canada

31
461 221
Brian Leetch is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Brian Leetch Corpus Christi, Texas, United States of America

32
148 127
Darius Kasparaitis is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
JasonFonner added Darius Kasparaitis Elektrėnai, Lithuania

33
170 110
Brian Rafalski is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
willyboymcoy added Brian Rafalski Dearborn, Michigan, USA

34
155 86
Al Iafrate is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Al Iafrate Dearborn, Michigan, United States of America

35
131 54
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
136 76
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
131 94
Craig Hartsburg is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Craig Hartsburg Stratford, Canada

38
399 271
Zdeno Chára is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Zdeno Chára Trenčín, Slovakia

39
165 50
Vladimir Konstantinov is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
mainpleine added Vladimir Konstantinov Murmansk, Russia

40
113 59
Ron Greschner is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
willyboymcoy added Ron Greschner Goodsoil, Canada

41
116 67
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slaft added Carol Vadnais Montreal, Canada

42
277 175
Larry Murphy is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Larry Murphy Scarborough, Toronto, Canada

43
304 187
Tim Horton is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Tim Horton Cochrane, Canada

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44
110 59
Alexei Kasatonov is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
adam.kane.lairt added Alexei Kasatonov Saint Petersburg, Russia

45
287 170
Serge Savard is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Serge Savard Montreal, Canada

46
113 71
Babe Pratt is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Babe Pratt Stony Mountain, Manitoba, Canada

47
114 62
Reed Larson is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Reed Larson Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America

48
97 43
Pat Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
slaft added Pat Stapleton Sarnia, Canada

49
89 59
Bruce Driver is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Bruce Driver Etobicoke, Toronto, Canada

50
73 35
Harry Howell is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
robm64 added Harry Howell Hamilton, Canada