With the 2020s upon us, it’s time to look back at some of the NHL’s best offensive-defensemen who have been providing fans with highlight-reel goals and nifty puck play throughout the past decade.
5. Kris Letang
Kris Letang has spent his entire 14-year NHL career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he has been a key factor in the team’s decade long sprint of success. Throughout the last 10 years, the Penguins have seen back-to-back Stanley Cups, which they achieved in 2016 and 2017 and have not missed a playoff berth.
Letang’s contribution to his team has been evident through his consistent leadership on the back end. He always comes in clutch when his team needs him most and was even responsible for scoring the game-winning goal in the 2016 Final against the San Jose Sharks.
Letang has a wicked wrist shot and is not afraid to dangle the puck. He can undress defenders and score goals that not many forwards could. He can also set up beautiful plays with his passing ability and his synergy with players like Sidney Crosby is quite noticeable on the ice.
Letang has seen some injuries come his way in his career. He missed half a season in 2016-17 due to a neck injury and lately missed eight games from an upper-body injury which he suffered early in November. Even with his injury, he boasts 10 goals and 16 assists in 2019 which is very respectable. When he is healthy, look out, because he certainly a force to reckoned with.
Decade Stats: 101 goals (G), 440 points (P), 41.2 offensive point shares (OPS)
4. P.K Subban
While the transition to the New Jersey Devils in the 2019-20 season has been a struggle, when we take a look at Subban’s career with the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators, it’s clear that he is deserving of a spot on this list.
He uses slick puck movement and has an accurate shot, skills few defensemen in the league possess. Subban’s ability to combine the two elements and set up plays allow him to shine among the top NHL players. Just how accurate is his shot? Well, you be the judge and take a look at this epic goal scored from center ice.
In his rookie season, Subban scored 14 goals and 24 assists. The second-round draft pick proved to be quite the pick up for the Canadiens and earned a Calder Trophy nomination. From here, Subban improved.
In the 2012-13 season, he again showed the league why he is a member of the elite and won the Norris Trophy for his impressive 11 goals and 27 assists in 42 games in a lockout season.
Decade Stats: 101 G, 413 P, 36.5 OPS
3 Shea Weber
The Canadiens captain takes the No. 3 spot, and for good reason. Now an experienced vet at age 34, Weber’s offensive game has slowed down the past couple of seasons. He’d been stricken with an injury in 2018 which saw Weber need to undertake arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but he is now looking to bounce back and start producing once again.
However, given his play in the last decade, Weber is still worthy of a spot high up on this list because of his play early in the 2010s which was dominant among defensemen. The 2013-14 season was particularly kind to Weber who amassed an outstanding 23 goals and 33 assists. In fact, in the last decade, Weber has achieved double-digit goals in all but two seasons.
Weber has an extremely potent slapshot which makes him a real threat from the point. His knowledge of the game and positioning always put him in the right spots and he makes few passing errors. Not one to usually jump up on the play, Weber’s offensive game from the blue line gives him a unique trait that separates him from the other members of this list.
Weber won the Mark Messier leadership award in 2015-16 and has been a Norris candidate for eight of the last 10 seasons. Now, Weber’s career might not be hall-of-fame worthy, but regardless, there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league and when he does choose to put up his skates, he will have left behind a great legacy.
Decade Stats: 151 G, 399 P, 40.4 OPS
2 Brent Burns
There’s a reason why many consider Brent Burns to be one of the best d-men in the NHL right now. His size and puck control make getting the puck away from him an impossible task. Combine this with an unpredictable shot that is deadly when it connects, gives Burns an array of talents that not many defensemen can match in the league.
A six-time Norris Trophy nominee, Burns finally won the coveted title in the 2016-17 season following an unearthly 29-goal, 47-assist season. He nearly missed out on another Norris title last season after a whopping 16 goals and 67 assists, coming second in voting behind the Calgary Flames’ Mark Giordano.
Did I mention that he does all of this while playing nearly 25 minutes a game? This type of point spread and goal-scoring from a defenseman is unheard of in the modern era and, with this, Burns has solidified himself as one of the best offensive-defensemen to grace the game.
Decade Stats: 144 G, 490 P, 48.8 OPS
1. Erik Karlsson
The only member on this list to have won two Norris titles, Karlsson has been the most effective offensive-defenseman in the league throughout this past decade.
Never afraid to jump up on the rush, Karlsson has a wicked wrist shot that rivals some of the best forwards in the league. He is one of the fastest skating defensemen and, once he has the puck, good luck catching him. A keen eye allows him to make crisp passes up the neutral zone, or pick a corner and rip the puck in the net.
Karlsson’s most dominant years were by far with the Ottawa Senators. In the 2011-12 season, Karlsson won his first Norris title with an amazing 78 point season after 19 goals and 59 assists. His second Norris, also with the Senators, came after the 2014-15 season where he tallied 66 points with 21 goals and 45 assists.
Since he arrived in San Jose, after signing an eight-year, $92 million deal with the Sharks, his offensive play has somewhat slowed down, but this momentary hiccup isn’t enough to take away from the performance he has put together through the decade.
Decade Stats: 128 G, 565 P, 55.6 OPS
Do you agree with this list? What are your most beloved offensive-defensemen of the last decade? Feel free to discuss in the comment section below.
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San Jose Sharks writer @TheHockeyWriters
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