Best stay-at-home d-men of the NHL

We’ve had a lot of talks here on HTR about stay-at-home d-men, with everyone having their own opinions about what is making a good defensive defenseman.

The following article is not sourced, nor statistically proven. It’s only based on the hockey games I’ve watched since 3-4 years, on the blogs/forums I read, on the talks I have with my friends, etc.

This is my top 15 of the best stay-at-home d-men of the NHL.

This list does not include Lidstrom, Chara, Pronger, or any other d-men of their kind. I consider them as offensive d-men with strong positionning and hockey sense. Therefore, they’re not considered for this list.

1. Robyn Regehr, Calgary Flames.

Regehr is really the prototype of any good stay-at-home. Big, strong, physical, quick even if he’s huge, sound positionnaly, good pokechecking, etc. At 4 millions, for what he’s bringing to the table, he’s a bargain. He’s the Flames best d-man.

2. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks.

Keith has really improved drastically over the last 2 years. He went from a depth guy to the Blackhawks best d-man in a very short time. He’s one of the fastest skater in the NHL. With a bit more offense, some people could compare him to Niedermayer or Lidstrom. He’s 2nd on the list though, because he doesn’t hit like Regehr can do.

3. Scott Hannan, Colorado Avalanche.

Scott doesn’t have the same stats as he had with the Sharks, but this is largely due to bad goaltending and playing on a team plagued with injuries year after year. Hannan is still a force on the blueline, and he can anchor any defensive unit. He was the quarterback in San Jose, and he’s still the most reliable d-man on his new team. He looks a lot like Regehr, with a little less upside.

4. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks.

See Duncan Keith. How could this guy been drafted in the 2nd round? He’s a force on the blueline and a workhorse. He’s playing up to 25 minutes a game as a 21 years old guy. It’s amazing. He’s the Sharks best stay-at-home and has a large part in their recent success. He doesn’t hit at all, but he doesn’t have to. He’s never taken out of position. He will be a key part of the Sharks for years to come.

5. Keith Ballard, Florida Panthers.

Everyone is talking about Jay Bouwmeester. If the Panthers are making the playoffs, it’s because of J-Bo. But does anybody notice the guy playing right behind him? He’s +15 this season with Florida, and was +7 last year on a young Coyotes team. Phoenix’ defense looks real slim without him in the lineup, and it shows. On the other hand, Florida is playing better than ever since Ballard arrived in Sunrise. That’s why he earned that 6 years, 4.2 millions per year contract.

6. Marc Staal, New York Rangers.

There’s a reason he was taken 12th overall in 2005. He’s a stud. Without him, look for the Rangers to be in the Tavares sweeps this year. He’s already the Rags best d-man, and looks like he’s the best of the Staal’s so far. Don’t expect him to score 10 goals, but expect him to be the real leader, night in and night out for your team.

7. Eric Brewer, St. Louis Blues.

One word. Experience. Only 29, went to the playoffs only 2 times, but it seems like he’s seen more hockey than anyone else in this league. Unfortunatly, he’s often injured, but the fact stays that anybody would like to have him to anchor their blueline. He’s big, strong, skates well, and is always well positionned. Too bad he’s playing for the Blues.

8. Kim Johnsson, Minnesota Wild.

Once considered a promising offensive d-man, he chose to work more on the defensive side of the game, and is now a defensive workhorse. He’s the one holding Minnie’s d-corp together. He’s the one Jacques Lemaire looks up to when the Wild are winning 2-1 with 5 minutes to play. He’s the one Riseborough chose to build his defense around. The Wild will take a big blow if he leaves when his contract is up.

9. Roman Hamrlik, Montreal Canadiens.

See Johnsson. 1rst pick overall in 1992, one season of 60+ points, 5 seasons of 40+ points…but now? only a stay-at-home d-man, but a heck of a one! Habs fans spend their time praising Mike Komisarek, but Roman Hamrlik is the real glue keeping this defense together. Playing in all situations, playing more than 22 minutes a game, there’s a reason Gainey signed him to that monster contract. 5.5 millions per year seems a lot for a stay-at-home, but that shows how much he can be valuable to a team.

10. Niclas Havelid, Atlanta Trashers.

Too bad he’s playing on an atrocious team. He’s a stud. Top 3 in blocked shots from 2005-2006 to 2007-2008 (Behind Anton Volchenkov and Jason Smith). He’s will probably be the d-man the most sought after on March 4th. And believe it or not, he’s +4 this year. On the Atlanta Trashers!! Yeah, exactly, he’s a rock….

11. Dan Hamhuis, Nashville Predators.

12. Nick Schultz, Minnesota Wild.

13. Willie Mitchell, Vancouver Canucks.

14. Mike Komisarek, Montreal Canadiens.

15. Anton Volchenkov, Ottawa Senators.

Were also considered, in no particular order :

Colin White, New Jersey Devils.
Cory Sarich, Calgary Flames.
Mike Commodore, Colombus Blue Jackets.
Chris Phillips, Ottawa Senators.
Brendan Witt, New York Islanders.
Bryan Allen, Florida Panthers.
Barrett Jackman, St. Louis Blues.
Zbynek Michalek, Phoenix Coyotes.
Steve Staios, Edmonton Oilers.
Derek Morris, Phoenix Coyotes.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed. I’m waiting for your comments and criticism.

Good day!