The Stanley Cup Final ended more than a month ago and the 2015-16 NHL regular season is more than two months away. There’s not much going on out there. So, with great trepidation, we took on the task of ranking the top 25 NHL players at each position. We did this a couple of years ago and you, uh, totally agreed with every single player’s ranking and generally thought we did a wonderful job. You most certainly did not suggest we were hockey know-nothings who should never attempt such an undertaking again...
Here’s our projected ranking of the NHL’s top 25 defensemen in 2015-16. A couple of introductory thoughts: This was a tough one. So tough, in fact, that we couldn’t find a spot among the top 25 for Marc Staal, T.J. Brodie, Keith Yandle, Justin Faulk and several other highly regarded defenders. Take a look at the ‘Honorable Mentions’ and you’ll see the quantity of quality NHL defensemen.
The NHL’s top 25 defensemen in 2015-16:
1. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles: He can control the flow of the game more than any other player in the league thanks to his superb skating and hockey sense.
2. Duncan Keith, Chicago: If you watched the playoffs, we don’t have to explain this one.
3. Mark Giordano, Calgary: If not for injuries the past two seasons, he might be coming off back-to-back Norris Trophies – and maybe a Hart, too.
4. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa: He plays like a pirate on a motorcycle. And we mean that in the best way possible.
5. PK Subban, Montreal: They don’t come more dynamic or passionate than the Habs catalyst.
6. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay: Bolts biggie doesn't have Zdeno Chara's mean streak but he skates better and has more offensive upside.
7. Shea Weber, Nashville: The template for what you want in a No. 1 defenseman.
8. Ryan Suter, Minnesota: Nobody plays more than Suter, and with good reason.
9. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis: All-around Blues defender is a playoff breakout away from joining the NHL’s elite.
10. Ryan McDonagh, NY Rangers: With all due respect to Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, it’s the captain who stirs the drink in Manhattan.
11. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona: His profile would be a lot of higher if he wasn’t stranded in the desert.
12. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh: Smooth, skilled and and mobile, but he’s endured so much physical trauma over the past couple of years (stroke, concussions).
13. Brent Seabrook, Chicago: Just when you thought he was leveling off, he plays a postseason to remember.
14. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose: One of the most underrated defensemen in the league.
15. Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis: He’s the full package yet he’s always left us wanting a little more.
16. Zdeno Chara, Boston: Big ol’ bear turns 39 in March. He's slowing down, but don't poke him.
17. Roman Josi, Nashville: Of course he’s not better than Weber, that’s crazy talk. But he’s pretty darn good.
18. Brent Burns, San Jose: Likes to roam and he’s got the beard to prove it.
19. Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay: After a great regular season, the playoffs were his coming-out party.
20. Niklas Kronwall, Detroit: Keep your head up if you want to keep it attached to your body.
21. Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg: His roving ways sometimes come back to bite him, but Byfuglien stepped up big-time when the Jets’ defense corps was decimated by injury last season.
22. Tyson Barrie, Colorado: He might lead NHL defensemen in points in 2015-16.
23. Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis: See above.
24. John Carlson, Washington: He’s emerged as the Capitals’ most important defenseman – and one of the NHL’s most prolific.
25. Tyler Myers, Winnipeg: After some bumpy seasons in Buffalo, he’s cleared for takeoff with the Jets.
Honorable Mentions: Marc Staal, NYR; Justin Faulk, Car; TJ Brodie, Cgy; Keith Yandle, NYR; Dan Hamhuis, Van; Dan Girardi, NYR; Tobias Enstrom, Wpg; Andrei Markov, Mtl; Dion Phaneuf, Tor; Paul Martin, SJ; Jacob Trouba, Wpg; Hampus Lindholm, Ana; Brian Campbell, Fla; Alex Edler, Van; Jack Johnson, Clb; Dougie Hamilton, Cgy; Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chi; Dennis Wideman, Cgy; Mike Green, Det; Kris Russell, Cgy; Matt Niskanen, Wsh; Johnny Boychuk, NYI; Matthew Carle, TB; Brooks Orpik, Wsh; Cam Fowler, Ana; Andrej Sekera, Edm; Marc Methot, Ott; Travis Hamonic, NYI; Karl Alzner, Wsh; Justin Braun, SJ; Aaron Ekblad, Fla; John Klingberg, Dal; Dmitry Kulikov, Fla; Andy Greene, NJ; Jake Muzzin, LA; Nick Leddy, NYI; Jonas Brodin, Min; Danny DeKeyser, Det; Sami Vatanen, Ana; Mathew Dumba, Min; Olli Maata, Pit.
NHL Top 25 rankings by position:
Top 25 NHL left wingers
MORE NHL COVERAGE ON YAHOO SPORTS: