Best defensemen in the NHL in the 2021-22 season

Defensemen play just as important a role in hockey as forwards or goalies. After all, without the quality defense that these guys organize, it will be extremely difficult for the goalie to repel the opponents’ attacks. In addition to their direct duties, they are indispensable figures in the attack, where they bring goals and assist the team. 

Not all defensive players can boast great effectiveness. Someone’s skill level does not allow it, and someone is simply focused on other aspects of the game. However, the guys from this top absolutely can perform their direct duties, as well as productively assist their forwards in the attack. This article will talk about the best defensemen in the National Hockey League for the 2021-22 season.

Victor Hedman

Upon first seeing Victor Hedman, many would say that this fellow was born to be a defenseman. The size of the player is staggering as if the Scandinavian Viking put on a hockey uniform and stepped onto the ice to destroy all the opposing forwards’ endeavors. The defender is about 2 meters tall and weighs over 100 kilograms. 

His long limbs combined with his strength of mind and skill set make Victor Hedman a solid defensive player. Despite his size, Hedman moves around the court with ease and respect. He has excellent court vision and reads the game, can anticipate his opponent’s moves, and quickly find his way out of any difficult situations on the ice.

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The coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning does not hide his admiration and more than once noted the skill and usefulness of the player. “To have Hedman on the team is a luxury,” the coach said. During his career in the National Hockey League Victor Hedman played in 844 games, where he scored 120 goals and gave 426 assists. In addition, the defenseman is known for his efficiency numbers, which are among the best in the league every year.

In addition to his many medals and cups from international competitions, Hedman also has one of the most coveted awards in the world – the Stanley Cup. He won the coveted trophy with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and 2021. Hedman also won the Stanley Cup Most Valuable Player award in 2021, which is not a common occurrence for defensive players.

In recent years, Victor Hedman’s name has repeatedly appeared on the list of contenders for the National Hockey League’s most important prize for defensemen, the James Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive player after the regular season. However, despite his effectiveness and usefulness for the team, the Swede has never managed to win an individual trophy.

Erik Karlsson

Erik Karlsson is one of the fastest hockey players in the National Hockey League, so it’s no surprise that the player, unlike many other players in the league between 2013 and 2018, was able to score 365 points. That’s an incredible number for a player of his stature. Eric is also one of the most expensive players in the National Hockey League right now. As a result of a multi-year agreement with the San Jose Sharks, the player’s salary was astronomical by hockey standards – 14.5 million dollars.

During his career, the hockey player appeared on the ice in the National Hockey League games 811 times. During that time, he managed to score 151 pucks and give 492 assists. However, Erik is very much behind Victor Hedman in terms of his utility rating. But Karlsson is a two-time winner of the National Hockey League’s Most Improved Defenseman Award. 

The athlete received it in 2012 and 2015. Also, the defenseman has received the Viking Award three times, which is given to the best hockey player in Sweden every year. However, against the backdrop of individual success, team awards have bypassed the athlete. The Swede has never won a team award at either the international level or the National Hockey League level.

Drew Doughty

Drew Doughty, like Erik Karlsson, is not only one of the league’s highest-paid players, but the hockey player is also a top-notch defenseman. On his shoulders rests not only the Los Angeles defense but the play of the team as a whole. It’s hard to say what drives the players, but it’s worth noting that Doughty is constantly in the game, constantly on the alert, and consistently producing some of the best results in the National Hockey League.

Way back in 2016, Drew Doughty was awarded the best defenseman award in the National Hockey League with the James Norris Trophy. Best of all, after all these years, the player continues to hold the bar high in the game to this day, considered one of the most capable and efficient defensemen in the National Hockey League. Between 2014 and 2019, the athlete participated in nearly every game for his team, being on the ice for 26 minutes or more in each game, drawing genuine admiration from those around him. 

In the National Hockey League, Doughty played in 986 games, scoring 128 goals and providing 421 assists. In 7 seasons of his career, the player scored over 40 regular season points, and in 3 seasons he scored over 50, which is a very impressive record for a defensive player. During his long career, Doughty was not only celebrated as the best defenseman in the National Hockey League, but also won two Stanley Cups with the team, and twice won the gold medal at the Olympics with Team Canada.

Roman Yosi

Probably many have heard the saying that the goalie is half of the team. It is quite a popular saying in sports. However, in the case of Roman Yosi, this is far from the case. Speaking for the Nashville Predators club, Yosi modestly refutes this saying. With his play, the defenseman shows that he is half of this team. Since the great and terrible Nicklas Lidstrom, it is hard to remember a defensive player who would be as indispensable to his team as Roman Yosi. 

The guard averages nearly 26 minutes per game and averages 0.94 points per game. It’s also surprising that, while having problems on the goaltending line and playing on a fairly average team in the league, Yosi manages to finish seasons with a positive reliability rating. Not surprisingly, the National Hockey League’s best defenseman award in 2022 went to Yosi. During his career in the National Hockey League, Roman took part in 708 games in which he scored 126 goals and provided 34 assists. The player’s overall utility rating is +62.

Morgan Riley

Morgan Riley is one of the pillars of the Canadian club Toronto Maple Leafs’ defense. Despite some instability in his game, this has not prevented the player from making the list of the best active defensemen at the moment. With his technique and good play, Riley has helped the club produce good results in the regular season and playoff series, sometimes surprising those around him. 

One of the best moments of the hockey player’s career was the 2018-19 season. In 82 games, the young defenseman managed to score 20 goals and make 52 assists with a hockey player’s utility rating of +24. However, even those impressive numbers weren’t enough for a James Norrie Trophy nomination.

Unfortunately, after an enchanting 2018-19 season, Riley’s scoring output has dwindled and is now around 30 points per season. It remains to be hoped that this phenomenon is temporary and shortly, the defenseman will once again begin to delight hockey fans with high performance. 

During his National Hockey League career, Riley appeared in 602 games where he allowed 63 goals and 263 assists. He still can’t boast any individual awards. However, he already has World Championship gold with Team Canada, as well as the gold medal in the Glinka/Gretzky Cup with the Canadian Junior National Team, which consists of players younger than 18 years old.

Once again, I would like to emphasize that although most defensemen in modern hockey are not as prominent as forwards or goalies, their role is very important. However, some players, like those in this top are versatile soldiers who can not only defend their goal but also help their forwards in the attack, showing their skill and effectiveness.