Ranking the best defensemen through Round 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
With the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the books, theScore counts down the top players of the postseason so far in all three positional groups. Players on eliminated teams are eligible for this list, as these rankings are explicitly based on cumulative performances from the first three rounds.
5. Ryan McDonagh, Lightning
McDonagh doesn't receive nearly as much recognition as Lightning teammate Victor Hedman, but he's the one who draws the toughest assignments - and he usually comes out on top in those matchups. While Hedman runs Tampa Bay's electric power play, the team's penalty kill has been remarkable as well, and no blue-liner has logged more shorthanded minutes this postseason than the 32-year-old McDonagh.
4. Joel Edmundson, Canadiens
Edmundson isn't a name one might expect to see on a list like this, but he's most certainly deserving of his spot. In fact, there's a case to be made that the 27-year-old has been the Canadiens' best blue-liner in the playoffs. He's Montreal's only defenseman with an expected goals for percentage above 50, and he's been crucial in helping the Canadiens shut down opponents' top players.
3. Jeff Petry, Canadiens
His numbers don't jump off the page, but Petry has had an excellent postseason despite some unfortunate circumstances. Not only is he battling a hand injury, but his terrifying bloodshot eyes are the result of a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Regardless, the 33-year-old has been a rock on Montreal's back end.
2. Alex Pietrangelo, Golden Knights
The Golden Knights may have been upset by the Canadiens in six games, but Pietrangelo deserves a minimal share of the blame. The 31-year-old led his club with three goals in the series while averaging a team-high 27:33 of ice time per night. After an underwhelming regular season, Pietrangelo was worth every penny of his $8.8-million annual cap hit during the playoffs.
1. Victor Hedman, Lightning
Some may scoff at Hedman's mediocre underlying numbers and the fact that most of the 30-year-old's points have come on the man advantage. But the Lightning's power play is a major reason they're advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for a second straight year, and Hedman's contributions cannot be ignored.