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Top 5 NHL offensive defensemen
There are many different roles an NHL defenseman can assume. The majority of defenders are expected to stay back and block opposing teams from scoring. However, some blue liners are used to create an even more dynamic attack and bolster the power play. These offensive minded defensemen tend to be more well known thanks to their ability to collect points.
Even among the offensive defensemen, though, some players are far better at creating plays than others. Here are the top five offensive defensemen currently playing in the NHL.
Chris Pronger built his reputation on a nasty attitude and brutal physical play, but the core of his game has always been his great ability to read a play on the ice. In fact, for all of the press Chris Pronger's attitude has received, his best attribute has always been throwing a breakout pass to start an offensive rush. It is that ability to create turnovers and begin the rush that has made Chris Pronger such a valuable weapon to teams over his 17 season (and counting) NHL career.
4. Drew Doughty - Los Angeles Kings
Best offensive season: 16 goals and 43 assists for 59 points in 2009-10 for the Los Angeles Kings, runner-up for the Norris Trophy.
A decorated 17 season career is one thing, but Drew Doughty, in only his second professional season, fell only three points shy of Chris Pronger's career high for points. At only 20 years old, Drew Doughty still has a lot of developing to do before he hits his physical prime so it would be foolish to think that those 59 points in the 2009-10 NHL season are the best he will ever do.
3. Duncan Keith - Chicago Blackhawks
Best offensive season: 14 goals and 55 assists for 69 points in 2009-10 for the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the Norris Trophy.
Of every defensemen currently playing in the NHL, Duncan Keith might be the most complete player. Keith is just entering his prime and has demonstrated unbelievable ability to play at a high level at both ends of the ice. Anchoring the power play on the high powered Chicago Blackhawks has given Duncan Keith plenty of opportunity to pad his offensive output, and has shown marked improvement in his puck moving ability in each of his five NHL seasons.
2. Nicklas Lidstrom - Detroit Red Wings
Best offensive season: 16 goals and 64 assists for 80 points in 2005-06 for the Detroit Red Wings to win his fourth Norris Trophy.
For some players age is just a number. Nicklas Lidstrom is one of those players. Entering his 19th NHL season, and with six Norris Trophies to his credit, Nicklas Lidstrom still somehow moves on the ice the same way he did earlier in his career. A slight slip in the 2009-10 NHL season - he dropped from 59 points to 49 - seemed to indicate that Nicklas Lidstrom might finally be on the back nine of his career. A blistering start to the 2010-11NHL season, where Lidstrom has scored 11 points in 9 games, suggests that 2009-10 was an aberration and that this surefire Hall of Famer still has a lot more hockey left to play.
1. Mike Green - Washington Capitals
Best offensive season: 19 goals and 57 assists for 76 points in 2009-10 for the Washington Capitals, finished as a runner-up for the Norris Trophy.
The other defensemen on this list have shown excellent offensive capabilities, but Mike Green trumps all active defensemen when it comes to moving the puck. At times Mike Green is less defenseman and more a fourth forward on the ice on the already overly talented Washington Capitals. Sure, there are defensive liabilities to Mike Green's game, but his uncanny ability to score at a high pace makes Mike Green one of the top blue liners in the game today.
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