Recently the NHL Network has started creating a #NHLTopPlayers campaign on Twitter. The first batch of players to be organized were the current top 20 defensemen in the NHL. The initiative took input from the fans on the top 20 defenders and then formulated their own final network list – see below tweet.
The final top 20 list looks fairly accurate and my intention is not to debate the list, but rather look for any interesting observations.
Top 20 Defensemen Notes, Observations, and Comparisons
First, the list includes several exceptional young players that will be due big raises coming off their current entry level contracts including Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen, and Quinn Hughes.
Another observation is that the Columbus Blue Jackets have a pair of defensemen on this list and both players have contracts due after the next two seasons. Seth Jones (26) and Zach Werenski (23) are a formidable pair but signing them both might be an expensive reality for Columbus.
The Minnesota Wild have two players in the top paid list that are not in the top-20 NHL Network list. Both Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon are good players, but I can’t really argue for them to be added to the top 20 list.
An interesting exercise was to compare the NHL Network top 20 list with the top 20 paid defensemen in the NHL, by cap hit. The San Jose Sharks have three defensemen in the top paid category with Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Sharks, a non playoff team, have over $26.5M tied up in those three defenders.
Most notably however, of the top 20 paid defenseman in the NHL only nine defenders are on the NHL Network list. Those players include (in order of salary) P.K. Subban, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jacob Trouba, Thomas Chabot, Suter, Spurgeon, Aaron Ekblad, Vlasic, Brent Seabrook, Marc Giordano, and Ivan Provorov (although Provorov was on the top-20 Fan List on NHL Network).
Some interesting side notes from the defensemen category of what should be a fun #NHLTopPlayers theme on NHL Network.
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