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To follow up on a piece I posted on Thursday on the top defensive defencemen, here's a similar look at who, statistically, rank as the top defensive forwards so far this season.

Players had to have played a minimum of 30 games, play a key role while shorthanded and score well in three measures (quality of competition, goals against at even strength and goals against on the penalty kill) to make this list:

The Selke Trophy for the league's top defensive forward is often one of those awards that gets voted on very strangely, but the players at the top of this list are the sort that, in my mind, should be in the running this year. It's not enough to simply look at plus-minus - a statistic heavily influenced by offensive prowess and the quality of a player's team - and say those high on that list (like Alex Ovechkin or Nik Antropov) are the best defensively.

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As for who will win the hardware, well it seems offensive contributions generally play a role, and Alfredsson, Marleau, Langenbrunner, Burrows and Pavelski are good examples of top penalty killers who also contribute at the other end of the rink.

It's interesting, too, to see all three members of the shutdown line the Ducks used to win the Cup in 2007 on here - Niedermayer, Pahlsson and Moen - albeit with different teams now.

A lot of the other names on here are players who hardly get any pub at all but who fill key roles on their teams, generally against the opposition's top lines.

You can read more on some advanced NHL statistics here.

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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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