Every NHL player has one thing in common - when they were kids, they played street and pond hockey, and they dreamed of one day scoring the big goal in the big game. All professional athletes had that dream, they wanted to be in the moment, playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, probably in overtime, and they have the opportunity to score the game-winning goal.
No kid ever dreamed of getting 20 minutes of ice time, and their sole responsibility was staying in their own end, making sure the puck didn’t find its way into their net. Could you imagine if players like Erik Karlsson or P.K. Subban grew up dreaming about being a stay-at-home defensemen?
Stay-at-home defensemen are the product of adapting. Players are coming through the junior and minor league ranks, and eventually there comes a day when they realized they didn’t have the offensive skills to contribute on the scoreboard.
Maybe they didn’t have a great first step, so jumping up and joining the rush wasn’t a possibility anymore. Or maybe they just didn’t have a good shot, whether they couldn’t get it through traffic or they couldn’t get any pepper on it.
Whatever the case, there was moment when these defensemen realized if they wanted to make the NHL and stay there, they would have to just make sure they weren’t a liability when they were on the ice.
Every time they got on the ice, their sole focus was to make sure the puck didn’t end up in their net and as time went on, they had to start shutting down the opponent’s offensive players.
The intent of every shift was to muzzle the other team’s offense, until the guys on their team who could score could catch their breath, and get back to doing what they did best.
So these guys became really good at staying in their own zone, and playing defense.
These are the top 15 NHL stay-at-home defensemen, and not surprisingly, most of them played during the NHL’s Dead Puck Era:
15 15. Douglas Murray
Murray was drafted in the 8th round by the San Jose Sharks, which is pretty telling sign he’d be a long-shot to ever make the NHL. After four years of playing for Cornell, then parts of three more in the AHL, Murray finally became an NHL regular.
His best offensive season came in 2009-10, when he scored 17 points while averaging over 20 minutes of ice time.
14 14. Barret Jackman
Jackman is one of the most surprising names to grace the Calder Memorial Trophy, beating Henrik Zetterberg and Rick Nash in 2002-03.
During his rookie season, he scored three goals and 19 points while averaging 20:03 minutes of ice time per game.
He had spent his entire career with the St. Louis Blues and during that time, he’s eclipsed 20 points only twice. He’ll be suiting up for the Nashville Predators next season.
13 13. Mike Komisarek
Komisarek never scored more than 5 goals or 20 points in a season. His best season came as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, the team that drafted him 7th overall.
In 2007-08, Komisarek lead the league with 266 hits (3.5 per game) and was second with 227 blocked shots (3 per game), and he was selected to play in the all-star game.
One season later, he signed a huge deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but was only every able to play one full season with the team over four years. His career severely deteriorated following his departure from Montreal.
12 12. Shane Hnidy
Hnidy suited up for six teams during his 10 year career in which he only scored more than 10 points three times.
His best offensive year came as a member of the Minnesota Wild when he had two goals and 14 points.
In 2011, he joined the Boston Bruins midway through the season after a try-out. He played in three regular season games, and then appeared in three playoffs games during the Bruin’s Stanley Cup run. He played a total of nine minutes during the playoffs and his name doesn’t appear on the Cup, but he was given a ring.
11 11. Bob Boughner
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round, Boughner was never able to crack the lineup, so he signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Sabres.
His best offensive season came with the Calgary Flames in 2002-03 when he scored three goals and 17 points.
The rule changes following the 2004-05 lockout weren’t kind to Boughner, as he struggled to get regular playing time due to injuries and age slowing him down.
10 10. Mark Stuart
The steady defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets, Stuart has been an NHL regular since the 2007-08 season.
His best offensive season came in 2008-09 when he scored five goals and 17 points for the Boston Bruins.
In 2011, he was traded to Atlanta and after the team moved to Winnipeg in the offseason, he emerged as physical shutdown defenseman for the Jets.
9 9. Andreas Lilja
A second round pick by the Los Angeles Kings, Lilja was traded to the Florida Panthers before he was able to establish himself as a regular NHLer.
In 2007-08, he played an important role with the Detroit Red Wings on route to a Stanley Cup win.
He only scored more than 10 points in a season five times, twice hitting the 15 point mark.
8 8. Brad Lukowich
Over the course of 13 seasons, Lukowich played for six different teams had two stints with the Dallas Stars.
In his second season, the Stars won the Stanley Cup, but he only played in 8 playoff games that year. In 2003-04, as a regular with the Tampa Bay Lightning he won the Cup again and this time had his name engraved on the Trophy.
His best offensive season was split between the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils when he scored 21 points.
7 7. Jay McKee
As a member of the Buffalo Sabres, McKee managed to eclipse the 15 point mark just twice in 10 seasons while helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1999, when he was a plus 13 player during the playoffs.
After playing for the Sabres, he signed a 4-year deal with the St. Louis Blues, but after injuries cut his first season short, he played two seasons before the Blue bought-out his contract.
6 6. Rhett Warrener
Drafted by the Florida Panthers, Warrener became a regular on the defensive end in just his second season.
During the 1998-99 season, Warrener was traded to the Buffalo Sabres where he helped the Sabres reach the Stanley Cup Final with a plus 13 rating during the post-season.
In 2003-04, Warrener once again came close to winning the Stanley Cup, this time with the Calgary Flames, where he averaged over 24 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs.
5 5. Anton Volchenkov
Russia isn’t known for its production of stay-at-home defensemen, but Volchenkov never possessed the foot speed to play into the Russian style.
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators, Volchenkov became known as the league’s best shotblocker after he led the NHL with 273 blocked shots in 2006-07. It was also his best offensive season, as he scored 1 goal and 19 points.
He followed that season up by blocking another 209 in 2007-08.
4 4. Rob Scuderi
Scuderi has been an integral part of two Stanley Cup Championship teams, winning it once with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings.
In 2009, Scuderi set career offensive highs when he scored 1 goal and 16 points while playing just under 20 minutes per game.
He then moved to the Kings, where he continued to log heavy minutes shutting down the opposition’s top scorers.
3 3. Colin White
White reached the NHL just in time to be a part of the New Jersey Devils’ 2000 Stanley Cup victory.
His best offensive season came in his second season, in 2000-01, when he scored 1 goal and 20 points while being a plus 32.
In 2003, White once again was an important part of the Devils’ Stanley Cup march, when he played over 22 minutes per game in the post season, shutting down any offensive play he faced.
2 2. Ken Daneyko
Daneyko played his entire career with the New Jersey Devils and is the franchise leader in games played.
Throughout his career, he scored 20 points twice. His best offensive season came in 1989-90 when he scored 6 goals and 21 points.
Playing alongside Scott Stevens, he terrified opposing players with his rough, physical play.
In 2000, he won the Masterton Trophy following his fight with alcoholism.
1 1. Adam Foote
Foote barely qualifies for this list, only because he managed to put up 30 points twice in his career, but he was never one to jump up into the play. He known for his positional and physical play.
Foote was a key part of the Colorado Avalanche during their heyday. His best offensive season came in 2002-03 when he scored 11 goals and 31 points.
He was an important part of Colorado’s two Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001, playing just under 30 minutes of hockey per game.
He retired after playing in 1,154 games, scoring 66 goals and 308 points, with a +/- rating of 99 and spending 1,534 minutes in the penalty box.
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