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Super 16

Super 16: Orr, Karlsson among best defensemen of expansion era

Lidstrom edges Bourque for No. 2 in rankings that include 14 Hall of Famers, two active players

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Super 16: Defensemen

Check out the Super 16 defensemen of all-time

Bobby Orr and Nicklas Lidstrom top the list of the best post-expansion defensemen in Super 16 Classic Edition, presented by New Amsterdam Vodka

  • 02:11 •

The NHL season has been paused since March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, but the weekly Super 16 rolls on in a revamped form, looking at the history of the game. This week, it's the top 16 defensemen from 1967 to present day, the NHL expansion era.

Bobby Orr was the unanimous No. 1.

Things got interesting in the rankings this week after the great No. 4 for the Boston Bruins.

Nicklas Lidstrom edged Ray Bourque by two voting points for No. 2. Six points separated Larry Robinson at No. 4, Paul Coffey at No. 5 and Denis Potvin at No. 6.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks each received enough voting points to be the only two active defensemen in the Super 16. Karlsson made it by one point, edging Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Video: Check out the Super 16 defensemen of all-time

To create this Super 16, each of the 14 participating NHL.com staff members put together his or her version of what it should look like. Those were submitted and a point total was assigned to each.

The defenseman picked first was given 16 points, second got 15, third 14 and so on down to No. 16, who got one point.

Here is the Super 16, best defensemen from 1967 to present day:

 

1. Bobby Orr

Total points: 224

Hall of Fame induction: 1979

Orr revolutionized the position with his skating, speed, puck-handling and offensive ability. The Bruins defenseman turned defense into offense with a rapid acceleration better than arguably anyone in NHL history. His career was limited to 657 games from 1966-79 because of knee problems, but he packed a lot into his 12 NHL seasons. He finished with 915 points (270 goals, 645 assists), 11th among defensemen in NHL history. Every player in front of him played at least 403 more games than Orr. His average of 1.39 points per game is fourth in NHL history among skaters who played at least 600 games. He was voted winner of the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman an NHL-record eight times, in eight straight seasons (1967-75). He won the Hart Trophy voted as NHL MVP three seasons in a row from 1969-72. He is the only defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champion. He did that twice. Orr won the Hart, Norris, Art Ross and Conn Smythe trophies in 1970. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup with Orr in 1970 and 1972, when he was voted Conn Smythe winner as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time.

Video: Memories: Orr scores in overtime to win Stanley Cup

 

2. Nicklas Lidstrom

Total points: 198

Hall of Fame induction: 2015

The Detroit Red Wings never missed the playoffs in Lidstrom's 19-season career. He helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup four times (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002. Lidstrom won the Norris Trophy seven times, tied with Doug Harvey for second most in NHL history behind Orr. He was named to the NHL First All-Star Team 10 times. Lidstrom is sixth in NHL history among defensemen with 1,142 points (264 goals, 878 assists) in 1,564 games and second in playoff points with 183 (54 goals, 129 assists) in 263 games.

 

3. Ray Bourque

Total points: 196

Hall of Fame induction: 2004

Bourque was a 13-time NHL First All-Star Team member and five-time Norris Trophy winner in a career that spanned 23 seasons (1979-2001) and ended with his only Stanley Cup championship, won with the Colorado Avalanche. Bourque spent his first 21-plus seasons with Boston before being traded to Colorado late in the 1999-2000 season. He is first in NHL history among defensemen with 410 goals, 1,169 assists and 1,579 points in 1,612 games, and he is third in playoff points with 180 (41 goals, 139 assists) in 213 games.

 

4. Larry Robinson

Total points: 162

Hall of Fame induction: 1995

Robinson won the Stanley Cup six times as a defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens from 1973-1989. He finished his career playing three seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. Robinson won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1978 and the Norris Trophy in 1977 and 1980, and he was named to the NHL First All-Star Team three times (1977, 1979, 1980). He is ninth in NHL history among defensemen with 958 points (208 goals, 750 assists) in 1,384 games.

Video: Larry Robinson vital cog on six Cup-winning teams

 

5. Paul Coffey

Total points: 160

Hall of Fame induction: 2004

Coffey is a four-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time Norris Trophy winner (1985, 1986, 1995). He won the Cup three times with the Edmonton Oilers (1984, 1985, 1987) and once with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991). Coffey is second in NHL history among defensemen behind Bourque in goals (396), assists (1,135) and points (1,531) in 1,409 games. He averaged 1.09 points per game, second behind Orr among NHL defensemen who played at least 600 games. He is first among defensemen in NHL playoff points with 196 (59 goals, 137 assists) in 194 games.

 

6. Denis Potvin

Total points: 156

Hall of Fame induction: 1991

Potvin won the Stanley Cup four times (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983) and the Norris Trophy three times (1975, 1978, 1979) in his 15 NHL seasons, all with the New York Islanders from 1973-88. He was named to the NHL First All-Star Team five times (1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981). Potvin is seventh in NHL history among defensemen with 1,052 points (310 goals, 742 assists) in 1,060 games, and his average of 0.99 points per game (0.99) is third among those who played at least 600 games.

 

7. Chris Chelios

Total points: 130

Hall of Fame induction: 2013

Chelios was a five-time NHL First All-Star Team member (1989, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002), a three-time Norris Trophy winner (1989, 1993, 1996), and three-time Stanley Cup champion. He won the Cup in 1986 with the Canadiens and in 2002 and 2008 with the Red Wings. He is first in NHL history among defensemen and seventh overall in games (1,651). He's also first in NHL playoff games (266). He is 10th in NHL history among defensemen with 948 points (185 goals, 763 assists) in the regular season and tied with Robinson for seventh with 144 points (31 goals, 113 assists) in the playoffs.

Video: Chris Chelios was fierce defender in 26-season career

 

8. Brian Leetch

Total points: 105

Hall of Fame induction: 2009

Leetch became the first United States-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy when he helped the New York Rangers end a 53-year drought and win the Stanley Cup in 1994. He won the Norris Trophy for 1991-92 and 1996-97, the two seasons when he was also named to the NHL First All-Star Team. He was voted winner of the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1989. Leetch is eighth in NHL history among defensemen with 1,028 points (247 goals, 781 assists) in 1,205 games. He averaged 1.02 points per game in the playoffs (97 points in 95 games), second behind Orr (1.24) among defensemen who played at least 12 games.

 

9. Scott Niedermayer

Total points: 84

Hall of Fame induction: 2013

Niedermayer won the Stanley Cup three times with the New Jersey Devils (1995, 2000, 2003) and once with the Anaheim Ducks, in 2007, when he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. He also won the Norris Trophy in 2004 and was a three-time NHL First All-Star Team member (2004, 2006, 2007). His offensive numbers likely are lower than they would have been had he not played most of his career with defense-oriented teams, especially the Devils from 1992-2004; he had 740 points (172 goals, 568 assists) in 1,263 games. His 98 points (25 goals, 73 assists) in 202 playoff games are 14th in NHL history among defensemen.

 

10. Brad Park

Total points: 79

Hall of Fame induction: 1988

Park was named to the NHL First All-Star Team five times (1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978). He never won the Norris Trophy but was the runner-up six times in the 1970s, finishing behind Orr four times and behind Potvin twice. He had 896 points (213 goals, 683 assists) in 1,113 games with the Rangers, Bruins and Red Wings.

Video: Brad Park retired as leader in assists by defensemen

 

11. Al MacInnis

Total points: 72

Hall of Fame induction: 2007

MacInnis is third in NHL history among defensemen behind Bourque and Coffey in goals (340), assists (934) and points (1,274). He was named to the NHL First All-Star Team four times (1990, 1991, 1999, 2003) and won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy with the Calgary Flames in 1989. He was awarded the Norris Trophy in 1999 with the St. Louis Blues.

 

12. Scott Stevens

Total points: 59

Hall of Fame induction: 2007

Stevens was one of the most ferocious hitters and physical defensemen in NHL history. He won the Stanley Cup three times with the Devils (1995, 2000, 2003) and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000. He was named to the NHL First All-Star Team twice (1988, 1994). His 908 points (196 goals, 712 assists) are 12th in NHL history among defensemen, and his 1,635 games are second behind Chelios.

 

13. Chris Pronger

Total points: 48

Hall of Fame induction: 2015

Pronger won the Hart Trophy with the Blues in 2000, making him the only defenseman other than Orr to be voted MVP in the expansion era. He also won the Norris Trophy for 1999-2000, the only season he was named to the NHL First All-Star Team (Second Team in 1998, 2004, 2007). Pronger, who won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, finished his career with 698 points (157 goals, 541 assists) in 1,167 games.

Video: Chris Pronger was Hart Trophy-winning defenseman

 

14. Zdeno Chara

Total points: 31

Hall of Fame induction: Not eligible, still playing

Chara won the Norris Trophy in 2009 and the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011. He has been a finalist for the Norris Trophy six times. He has been named to the NHL First All-Star Team three times (2004, 2009, 2014) and to the Second Team four times (2006, 2008, 2011, 2012). Chara is sixth in NHL history among defensemen with 1,553 games. He has 656 points (205 goals, 451 assists).

 

15. Larry Murphy

Total points: 30

Hall of Fame induction: 2004

Murphy is third in NHL history among defensemen in games (1,615), fourth in assists (929), fifth in points (1,217) and sixth in goals (288). He won the Stanley Cup twice each with the Penguins (1991, 1992) and Red Wings (1997, 1998). He was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team three times (1987, 1993, 1995).

 

16. Erik Karlsson

Total points: 26

Hall of Fame induction: Not eligible, still playing

Karlsson, who is 29 years old, already has won the Norris Trophy twice, in 2012 and 2015 with the Ottawa Senators, and was the runner-up in 2016 and 2017. He has been named to the NHL First All-Star Team four times (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017). The Sharks defenseman has 603 points (135 games, 468 assists) in 736 games and is averaging 0.82 points per game, ninth in NHL history among defensemen who played at least 500 games.

 

Others receiving points: Duncan Keith 25, Mark Howe 22, Phil Housley 21, Serge Savard 17, Borje Salming 16, Rod Langway 15, Sergei Zubov 12, Drew Doughty 10, Rob Blake 4, Brent Burns 1, Viacheslav Fetisov 1

 

HERE'S HOW WE RANKED 'EM

AMALIE BENJAMIN

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Nicklas Lidstrom; 3. Ray Bourque; 4. Paul Coffey; 5. Larry Robinson; 6. Denis Potvin; 7. Chris Chelios; 8. Brian Leetch; 9. Chris Pronger; 10. Brad Park; 11. Scott Niedermayer; 12. Scott Stevens; 13. Borje Salming; 14. Larry Murphy; 15. Zdeno Chara; 16. Al MacInnis

BRIAN COMPTON

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Denis Potvin; 3. Nicklas Lidstrom; 4. Ray Bourque; 5. Larry Robinson; 6. Paul Coffey; 7. Chris Chelios; 8. Brad Park; 9. Scott Stevens; 10. Chris Pronger; 11. Scott Niedermayer; 12. Brian Leetch; 13. Phil Housley; 14. Zdeno Chara; 15. Rod Langway; 16. Larry Murphy

NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Nicklas Lidstrom; 3. Ray Bourque; 4. Paul Coffey; 5. Denis Potvin; 6. Chris Chelios; 7. Larry Robinson; 8. Brian Leetch; 9. Erik Karlsson; 10. Duncan Keith; 11. Rod Langway; 12. Al MacInnis; 13. Brad Park; 14. Zdeno Chara; 15. Scott Niedermayer; 16. Chris Pronger

WILLIAM DOUGLAS

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Larry Robinson; 3. Ray Bourque; 4. Chris Chelios; 5. Nicklas Lidstrom; 6. Paul Coffey; 7. Brian Leetch; 8. Serge Savard; 9. Mark Howe; 10. Denis Potvin; 11. Zdeno Chara; 12. Erik Karlsson; 13. Brad Park; 14. Duncan Keith; 15. Rod Langway; 16. Viacheslav Fetisov

TOM GULITTI

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Nicklas Lidstrom; 3. Ray Bourque; 4. Larry Robinson; 5. Denis Potvin; 6. Paul Coffey; 7. Chris Chelios; 8. Scott Niedermayer; 9. Chris Pronger; 10. Brian Leetch; 11. Scott Stevens; 12. Brad Park; 13. Zdeno Chara; 14. Al MacInnis; 15. Mark Howe; 16. Rod Langway

ADAM KIMELMAN

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Ray Bourque; 3. Larry Robinson; 4. Nicklas Lidstrom; 5. Scott Niedermayer; 6. Paul Coffey; 7. Brian Leetch; 8. Denis Potvin; 9. Scott Stevens; 10. Mark Howe; 11. Al MacInnis; 12. Sergei Zubov; 13. Larry Murphy; 14. Borje Salming; 15. Chris Chelios; 16. Phil Housley

ROBERT LAFLAMME

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Ray Bourque; 3. Paul Coffey; 4. Nicklas Lidstrom; 5. Denis Potvin, 6. Larry Robinson; 7. Al MacInnis; 8. Chris Chelios; 9. Brian Leetch; 10. Larry Murphy; 11. Borje Salming; 12. Scott Niedermayer; 13. Phil Housley; 14. Scott Stevens; 15. Brad Park; 16. Duncan Keith

MIKE G. MORREALE

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Nicklas Lidstrom; 3. Ray Bourque; 4. Denis Potvin; 5. Larry Robinson; 6. Chris Chelios; 7. Brian Leetch; 8. Chris Pronger; 9. Scott Stevens; 10. Paul Coffey; 11. Larry Murphy; 12. Erik Karlsson; 13. Rod Langway; 14. Mark Howe; 15. Scott Niedermayer; 16. Zdeno Chara

TRACEY MYERS

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Ray Bourque; 3. Nicklas Lidstrom; 4. Paul Coffey; 5. Al MacInnis; 6. Scott Niedermayer; 7. Chris Chelios; 8. Phil Housley; 9. Larry Murphy; 10. Sergei Zubov; 11. Denis Potvin; 12. Brian Leetch; 13. Larry Robinson; 14. Scott Stevens; 15. Zdeno Chara; 16. Duncan Keith

BILL PRICE

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Nicklas Lidstrom; 3. Ray Bourque; 4. Chris Chelios; 5. Paul Coffey; 6. Denis Potvin; 7. Brad Park; 8. Larry Robinson; 9. Scott Niedermayer; 10. Al MacInnis; 11. Brian Leetch; 12. Erik Karlsson; 13. Drew Doughty; 14. Zdeno Chara; 15. Scott Stevens; 16. Larry Murphy

SHAWN P. ROARKE

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Nicklas Lidstrom; 3. Larry Robinson; 4. Ray Bourque; 5. Denis Potvin; 6. Paul Coffey; 7. Chris Chelios; 8. Scott Niedermayer; 9. Brian Leetch; 10. Scott Stevens; 11. Chris Pronger; 12. Brad Park; 13. Al MacInnis; 14. Borje Salming; 15. Drew Doughty; 16. Zdeno Chara

DAN ROSEN

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Nicklas Lidstrom; 3. Ray Bourque; 4. Chris Chelios; 5. Denis Potvin; 6. Paul Coffey; 7. Brad Park; 8. Larry Robinson; 9. Scott Niedermayer; 10. Al MacInnis; 11. Duncan Keith; 12. Brian Leetch; 13. Drew Doughty; 14. Zdeno Chara; 15. Mark Howe; 16. Erik Karlsson

DAVE STUBBS

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Larry Robinson; 3. Ray Bourque; 4. Brad Park; 5. Nicklas Lidstrom; 6. Paul Coffey; 7. Denis Potvin; 8. Al MacInnis; 9. Serge Savard; 10. Duncan Keith; 11. Brian Leetch; 12. Chris Chelios; 13. Scott Stevens; 14. Phil Housley; 15. Zdeno Chara; 16. Brent Burns

MIKE ZEISBERGER

1. Bobby Orr; 2. Nicklas Lidstrom; 3. Denis Potvin; 4. Ray Bourque; 5. Larry Robinson; 6. Paul Coffey; 7. Brad Park; 8. Chris Pronger; 9. Al MacInnis; 10. Brian Leetch; 11. Scott Niedermayer; 12. Scott Stevens; 13. Rob Blake; 14. Chris Chelios; 15. Erik Karlsson; 16. Zdeno Chara

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