Recently, the NHL Network put out a list of its Top 20 NHL Defensemen, and the Vegas Golden Knights boasted two players on that list. VHN takes a look at the list and where those Golden Knights landed.
Not surprisingly new addition Alex Pietrangelo ranked fourth overall. Pietrangelo sat just behind this year’s trio of Norris Trophy nominees Victor Hedman, Roman Josi and John Carlson. He figures to be a key part of the Golden Knights defensive corps for years to come, and will have even more of a spotlight on him in Vegas. With the ability to contribute in all three zones and handle the other team’s top offensive matchups, it follows the 2019 Stanley Cup Champion would find his name high on this list.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) November 2, 2020
Shea Theodore #14
What may surprise some NHL fans but not VGK fans is Shea Theodore ranking 14th on the network’s list of Top 20 NHL Defensemen. NHL Network also put out the Fan Top 20 alongside its own list, and Theodore was nowhere to be found. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that Theodore is a future Norris Trophy winner. It appears the rest of the league has not caught up to just how good Theodore has become.
Unfortunately for Shea, Pietrangelo’s massive presence means it’s possible he will be overlooked and underestimated for a few more seasons. Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi has been this good for a long time. When I watched him in Nashville that was clear. But Shea Weber, and then P-K Subban overshadowed Josi’s stellar play and only once they departed did he get his deserved recognition.
Miro Heiskanen benefitted from his coming out party on the Dallas Stars playoff run, landing at #10 on the NHL Network list and #5 among fans. A relative unknown before the playoffs, the 21-year-old rose above the rest of the Dallas D with 6-20-26 and eight power play points in 27 postseason games. His teammate Jon Klingberg placed 18th in fan voting but did not make the Network list.
Ivan Provorov didn’t make the Network’s list, but did end up at #15 on the fan list. Provorov has been a key player on the Philadelphia Flyers defense for the last three or four years. Just 23, the Russian-born defender shows even more upside. He should be a part of these lists for years to come going forward.
Since Provorov and Klingberg made the fan list but not the Network list, it means the Network list has a final difference aside from Theodore. Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis made the Network’s list at #19.
One thing that stood out to me was fan voting seemed to echo fantasy hockey importance in the rankings. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times. Or maybe those are just the names we hear most often. I found it an interesting distinction.
What do you think? Who was left off that should have made it? Who is on this list that shouldn’t be? Let us know in the comments.