NHL The Best Defensemen in NHL History  

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Originally by Ranker Community
35.3k votes 3.3k voters 58.4k views 130 items

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
1,911 393
Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Bobby Orr Parry Sound, Canada

2
639 246
Raymond Bourque is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
lisaann33 added Raymond Bourque

3
1,651 495
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Nicklas Lidström Krylbo, Sweden

4
860 407
Paul Coffey is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Paul Coffey Weston, Ontario, Toronto

5
724 383
Denis Potvin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Denis Potvin Gatineau, Hull, Canada

6
592 313
Doug Harvey is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Doug Harvey Montreal, Canada

7
536 290
Al MacInnis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Al MacInnis Inverness County, Canada

8
695 379
Scott Stevens is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Scott Stevens Kitchener, Brantford, Canada

9
510 303
Eddie Shore is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Eddie Shore Fort Qu'Appelle, Canada

10
481 292
Guy Lapointe is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Guy Lapointe Montreal, Canada

11
371 226
Börje Salming is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Börje Salming Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

12
459 288
Brad Park is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Brad Park Toronto, Canada

13
419 286
Erik Karlsson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
WilsonS05 added Erik Karlsson Landsbro, Sweden

14
340 193
Viacheslav Fetisov is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
doremifasola added Viacheslav Fetisov Moscow, Russia

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15
386 230
Red Kelly is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Red Kelly Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

16
647 286
Scott Niedermayer is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Scott Niedermayer Edmonton, Canada

17
681 300
Larry Robinson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Larry Robinson North Dundas, Ontario, Canada

18
519 309
Chris Pronger is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Chris Pronger Dryden, Canada

19
710 292
Chris Chelios is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Chris Chelios Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

20
422 363
Duncan Keith is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Duncan Keith Winnipeg, Canada

21
321 157
Mark Howe is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Mark Howe Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

The Most Violent Thugs in NHL History

22
323 230
Doug Wilson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Doug Wilson Ottawa, Canada

23
340 268
Shea Weber is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
BlakeMangone added Shea Weber Sicamous, Canada

24
289 174
Drew Doughty is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
doremifasola added Drew Doughty London, Canada

25
313 168
Rod Langway is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Rod Langway Taipei, Taiwan

26
554 244
Brian Leetch is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Brian Leetch Corpus Christi, Texas, United States of America

27
194 131
Gary Suter is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
doremifasola added Gary Suter Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America

28
158 93
Dit Clapper is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Dit Clapper Newmarket, Canada

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29
262 218
Pierre Pilote is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Pierre Pilote Jonquière, Saguenay, Canada

30
267 249
Randy Carlyle is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Randy Carlyle Greater Sudbury, Canada

31
180 154
Paul Reinhart is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Paul Reinhart Kitchener, Brantford, Canada

32
492 303
Zdeno Chára is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Zdeno Chára Trenčín, Slovakia

33
206 151
Brian Rafalski is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
willyboymcoy added Brian Rafalski Dearborn, Michigan, United States of America

34
174 104
Kevin Hatcher is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
doremifasola added Kevin Hatcher Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

35
188 125
Al Iafrate is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
doremifasola added Al Iafrate Dearborn, Michigan, United States of America

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36
165 90
Ryan Suter is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
lnlap added Ryan Suter Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America

37
162 179
Darius Kasparaitis is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
JasonFonner added Darius Kasparaitis Elektrėnai, Lithuania

38
366 202
Tim Horton is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Tim Horton Cochrane, Canada

39
207 72
Vladimir Konstantinov is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
doremifasola added Vladimir Konstantinov Murmansk, Russia

40
318 194
Larry Murphy is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Larry Murphy Scarborough, Toronto, Canada

41
345 185
Serge Savard is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Serge Savard Montreal, Canada

42
147 131
Craig Hartsburg is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Craig Hartsburg Stratford, Canada

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43
130 93
Ron Greschner is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
willyboymcoy added Ron Greschner Goodsoil, Canada

44
130 104
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slaft added Carol Vadnais Montreal, Canada

45
266 120
Rob Blake is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Rob Blake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

46
126 87
Alexei Kasatonov is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
adam.kane.lairt added Alexei Kasatonov Saint Petersburg, Russia

47
124 97
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
280 173
Phil Housley is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Phil Housley Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America

49
127 93
Reed Larson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
gaug66 added Reed Larson Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America

50
113 72
Pat Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
slaft added Pat Stapleton Sarnia, Canada