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The NHL's top defensive forwards at midseason

Following up on yesterday's look at the top defensive defencemen, here is my breakdown of which forwards have excelled in their own end this year.

This analysis relies on figures compiled by statistician Gabriel Desjardins at Behind The Net, a terrific site for some of the newer, advanced statistics that are becoming more popular these days.

The list ranks forwards who play in defensive situations by three measures: the quality of players they face (QCMP) and how many goals they are on the ice for at even strength and while shorthanded:

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RK

NAME

TEAM

QCMP

EVGA/60

SHGA/60

1

BROOKS LAICH

WSH

0.071

1.44

4.50

2

GREG CAMPBELL

BOS

0.090

1.84

4.41

3

TOMAS PLEKANEC

MTL

0.072

2.01

3.44

4

MATT COOKE

PIT

0.061

1.89

2.47

5

MAXIME TALBOT

PIT

0.032

1.39

3.17

6

DAVID LEGWAND

NSH

0.068

2.04

2.60

7

ALEX BURROWS

VAN

0.055

1.69

4.46

8

JONATHAN TOEWS

CHI

0.126

2.00

5.81

9

JANNIK HANSEN

VAN

0.001

1.70

2.73

10

JEFF HALPERN

MTL

0.061

2.23

3.28

11

JOEL WARD

NSH

0.050

2.08

4.06

12

MARTIN HANZAL

PHX

0.091

2.04

6.08

13

DANA TYRELL

T.B

0.039

2.21

1.73

14

CHRIS HIGGINS

FLA

-0.005

1.67

3.86

15

BRIAN BOYLE

NYR

-0.003

1.70

4.47

16

FERNANDO PISANI

CHI

0.070

1.62

12.65

17

JOSH BAILEY

NYI

0.018

2.06

3.50

18

MARTY REASONER

FLA

0.000

1.88

4.18

19

RADEK DVORAK

FLA

-0.032

1.60

4.39

20

MATT CULLEN

MIN

0.013

2.21

2.47

21

MARIAN HOSSA

CHI

0.051

1.74

6.65

22

TRAVIS MOEN

MTL

-0.005

1.92

4.17

23

BRANDON SUTTER

CAR

0.048

1.71

7.10

24

PATRICE BERGERON

BOS

0.047

1.63

7.54

25

PAUL GAUSTAD

BUF

-0.012

1.30

5.61

26

TOM PYATT

MTL

-0.005

1.74

5.12

27

ADAM BURISH

DAL

0.031

1.77

6.18

28

RYAN KESLER

VAN

-0.011

1.64

5.38

29

MANNY MALHOTRA

VAN

0.024

2.22

4.74

30

DANIEL WINNIK

COL

0.017

1.56

7.37

Honourable mentions: Mikko Koivu, Sami Pahlsson, Jason Pominville, David Backes

Two notes on this list: If a player plays with another teammate almost exclusively, it's difficult to separate them statistically, so you do see linemates make appearances on the list often. The other thing is players on teams with either really good or really poor goaltending will have their numbers affected by that.

Most on this list would make good candidates for the Selke Trophy, although some are obviously better than others. Some players are merely role players playing on checking lines and the penalty kill, and others like Toews, Hossa, Bergeron and Kesler are relied on to do far more and probably should receive far more attention when it comes to awards voting.

This analysis gives no value to offensive production, which seems to help in terms of garnering Selke votes, and only includes players who play a key role while shorthanded.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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