Top Five Defencemen in the Western Conference

Winnipeg Hockey Talk Fan Poll —

Who Are The Top Five Defencemen In The Western Conference?

I was watching a hockey game the other night and one of the announcers mentioned that a certain defenceman (to be named later) could be a  Norris Trophy candidate this season.

I almost spilled my drink all over the place.  Really?  We are 13 games into the season for crying out loud.  I guess the reason it caught me off guard is that it was a defenceman from the Eastern Conference and my first thought was:  “He wouldn’t even be close to the top of my list in the Western Conference”.  BUT that doesn’t surprise me.  The “Eastern Bias” is prevalent in every sport because of the later start times out West …. blah blah blah. 

Here’s my thought with all due respect.  If you can’t, won’t, or don’t have the time to watch EVERYBODY your predictions and opinions are probably regionally biased and not entirely accurate.  There are casual fans that are easily influenced. 

So it got me thinking and that is definitely a recipe for disaster.

Duncan Keith was # 2 in the poll

I’ve been wintering in the Phoenix area for the last six years and I ‘ve watched a lot of Western Conference hockey.  Most of you know by now, I have two web-sites that cater to two different markets.  Winnipeg Hockey Talk which obviously caters to the Winnipeg Jets fanbase and Arizona Hockey Talk that focuses on the Phoenix Coyotes for their fanbase.

I was curious to see what the two fanbases opinions were on who the “Top Five Defencemen are in the Western Conference”.  I thought this would be especially interesting since the Winnipeg Jets have played in the Eastern Conference for the past two seasons.  With the “Lockout” shortened season last year Winnipeg Jets fans haven’t seen Western Conference teams “live” for quite a while.

So, I posted the question on twitter using both my Winnipeg and Phoenix twitter accounts.  I waited for the replies and kept track of the results.  I expected some regional bias towards their own players but felt in the long run most fans would vote based on merit and not team loyalty.

AND BOY WAS I RIGHT!!!  The hockey fans of both fanbases came through with flying colours with only a hint of regional bias. 

While I was composing my own list, it occurred to me that there were a lot of talented defencemen in the West.  

My List: 

1.)  Shea Weber …. absolute beast in both ends of the rink.

2.)  Oliver Ekman-Larsson …. might be the best kept secret in the whole league.

3.)  Drew Doughty …. I think a very un-heralded and under valued defenceman.

4.)  Ryan Suter …. steady at both ends.

5.)  Alex Pietrangelo …. close to hitting “Elite” level.  I like him a lot.

My honourable mention goes to Slava Voynov who I think might be the best kept secret in the Western Conference.  He reminds me of where Oliver Ekman-Larsson was a couple years ago.   

The Top Five Defencemen Revealed!!! 

After days of soliciting responses the final votes are in.  I want to thank all those that took the time to vote. 

1.)  Shea Weber

2.)  Duncan Keith  

3.)  Oliver Ekman-Larsson

4.)  Ryan Suter

5.)  Drew Doughy and Alex Pietrangelo (tied)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a rising star !!!

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a rising star !!!

Other Defencemen Receiving Votes In Order Of Finish

Brent Seabrook, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Bieksa, Keith Yandle, Dan Boyle, Kevin Shattenkirk, Seth Jones, Mark Giordano, Derek Morris, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Dustin Byfuglien. 

Well done hockey fans of Arizona, Manitoba, and the voters from other regions.  You have renewed my faith that hockey fans can’t be influenced by local bias.  Most hockey fans know who the good players are even if they have to do so grudgingly.

This poll didn’t get as much of the regional hype of a Dustin Byfuglien from Winnipeg or a Keith Yandle from Phoenix as I expected.  Both are good defencemen when they are at their best but when push came to shove the fans voted honestly.  Good for you !!!  

You probably noticed that Phoenix’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson was on the “Top Five Defencemen” list. He was on over 80% of the lists cast by fans in both markets so there was no local “kool-aid” being served there.

I was surprised by the number of votes for Duncan Keith.  I know he just won another Stanley Cup last season and he is a former Norris Trophy winner but he was further down my list.  BUT that’s just me.  I’d take OEL or Pietrangelo over him.

Pretty Elite Group!!!

Whether this list looks like yours or not, you have to admit that there is some pretty incredible talent in that top 5 ….  or 6 as it turned out.  The players outside of this group are either young guys on the rise trying to make their mark or veterans that are sliding down the rankings but still very high-end talent.

BTW: In Case You Were Wondering!!!

The Eastern Conference player I was referring to at the start of this piece was Kris Letang.  AND he might have been playing in only his third or fourth game of the season after returning from his injury.  A little early for Norris Trophy talk?  He’s a fine defenceman but REALLY????

Who’s Next? 

The next wave of young versatile defencemen on the horizon in the Western Conference:

1.)  Slava Voynov

2.)  Seth Jones

3.)  Jacob Trouba

4.)  Jonas Brodin

5.)  Justin Schultz

Please let me know who I’ve missed or you would like to add to this list.

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