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The Best Defensemen in NHL History 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated January 21, 2020 51.6k votes 4.6k voters 66.5k views 118 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
Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Parry Sound, Canada
2
Raymond Bourque is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
lisaann33 added Raymond Bourque
3
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Krylbo, Sweden
4
Denis Potvin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Denis Potvin Gatineau, Hull, Canada
5
Paul Coffey is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Weston, Ontario, York
6
Larry Robinson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
North Dundas, Ontario, Canada
7
Scott Niedermayer is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Edmonton, Canada
8
Chris Chelios is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
USA, Chicago, Illinois
9
Doug Harvey is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Montreal, Canada
10
Chris Pronger is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Dryden, Canada
11
Scott Stevens is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Kitchener, Guelph, Canada
12
Al MacInnis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Inverness County, Canada
13
Börje Salming is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
14
Brian Leetch is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Corpus Christi, Texas
15
Eddie Shore is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Fort Qu'Appelle, Canada
16
Red Kelly is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Simcoe, Ontario, Canada
17
Brad Park is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Toronto, Canada
18
Mark Howe is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Detroit, Michigan
19
Guy Lapointe is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Montreal, Canada
20
Zdeno Chára is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Trenčín, Slovakia
21
Tim Horton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Cochrane, Canada
22
Rob Blake is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Simcoe, Ontario, Canada
23
Erik Karlsson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
WilsonS05 added Landsbro, Sweden
24
Drew Doughty is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
doremifasola added London, Canada
25
Serge Savard is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Defensemen in NHL History
Montreal, Canada