Ranking the best defensemen from Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
With the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the books, theScore counts down the top five players of the postseason so far at all three positional groups. Players on eliminated teams are eligible, as these rankings are based on performances in Round 1.
5. Dougie Hamilton, Hurricanes
Hamilton, a pending UFA, was already in line for a big payday, and his strong playoff performance so far is certainly not hurting his case. He came up big when it mattered most, too, registering two points - including the game-tying goal - in the Hurricanes' series-clinching win in Game 6.
4. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Hedman wasn't dominant at five-on-five in the Lightning's six-game series win over the Florida Panthers, but their power play was arguably the single biggest reason the defending champs came out on top. The Bolts' power play went 8-for-20 in the series, with Hedman - the quarterback of the top unit - picking up seven points with the man advantage.
3. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Letang certainly isn't to blame for the Penguins' first-round exit, as he paced the club with six points. The Pens were outscored 8-6 with Letang on the ice at five-on-five, but that can largely be contributed to poor goaltending, as they had 76 chances to the New York Islanders' 51.
2. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
Makar was his usual sensational self in the Avalanche's four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues. He drove play offensively, was responsible in his own end, and, of course, made his opponents look foolish. He now has an absurd 28 points in 30 career playoff games.
1. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins
McAvoy was integral in locking down Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Co. at five-on-five. He averaged five more minutes per game than the next Bruins blue-liner, and Boston outscored the Washington Capitals 6-2 and led the high-danger scoring chances 29-9 with McAvoy on the ice at five-on-five. You can't ask a defenseman for much more than that.
(Analytics source: Natural Stat Trick)