Being a strong hockey player has its perks. A big, powerful player might be able to play a crash and bang style, separate opponents from the puck and throw down with the best of them in a scrap.
Being strong on the puck is a completely different animal.
It's one thing to be strong and physically intimidating, but it's another thing to be able to hold onto the puck with a defender draped over your back, or multiple sticks and bodies flying around you as you try to squeeze out of the corner.
There are players who are capable of possessing the puck with soft hands and blazing speed, but there are others who have made a career of using sheer strength, balance and body positioning to hold on to the puck for as long as possible in an attempt to open up passing lanes, allow plays to develop and wear out opponents en route to a scoring opportunity.
The players highlighted in this list might not come off as the biggest, baddest, or strongest players in the National Hockey League - rather, they are the players considered "strongest on the puck" - those who are practically impossible to regain possession from when the puck is on their stick.
Many assume this involves size and strength, but puck protection is an art, learned through years of practice and honed to perfection with experience.
14 15. Brent Burns
13 13. Jakub Voracek
12 12. Tyler Seguin
11 11. Jamie Benn
10 10. Anze Kopitar
Anze Kopitar's name often slips through the cracks when discussing top-line NHL centres. The "East Coast Bias" is well and alive in the NHL, and it affects Kopitar as much as any other player who stars in late games on the West Coast.
9 9. Rick Nash
8 8. Marian Hossa
7 7. Ryan Getzlaf
If Ryan Getzlaf is going into the corner (or any other part of the ice, for that matter), with an opponent, he's likely coming out of there with the puck and an opportunity to put the puck in the net.
6 6. Joe Thornton
5 5. Alex Ovechkin
4 4. Jonathan Toews
It's always the quiet ones.
3 3. Pavel Datsyuk
Many of the players on this list earned their spot through their ability to protect the puck with strength and size. Pavel Datsyuk is on this list for very different (and unique) reasons.
2 2. Jaromir Jagr
If we were to appoint a king of puck protection based on the entirety of the player's career, Jaromir Jagr would win the crown by a landslide.
1 1. Sidney Crosby
As good and great as Jagr is at being strong on the puck, no one in the game today does it quite like Sidney Crosby.
Crosby's puck protection and strength while carrying it can be attributed to a number of things. For starters, his hockey sense and awareness on the ice is nearly unparalleled. He knows where he's going with the puck well before he's made his move, which allows him to get into better position to execute his plan.
More importantly, perhaps, is his legendary lower-body strength. TSN host James Duthie, among others, have written about Crosby's freakishly large legs and thighs, which help him not only accelerate incredibly quickly, but also gives him an edge when he's trying to hold off opponents down low.
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