Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson has stolen most of the headlines among NHL defensemen this year, and rightfully so. He’s having an outstanding season and has run away with the scoring title for defensemen.
But quietly, Chicago’s Brent Seabrook has emerged as one of the elite shut-down defensemen in the NHL. His partner on the Hawks’ blue line may have won the Norris Trophy two years ago, but it might be time to put Seabrook’s name in the conversation.
Always an entertaining exercise, let’s remove the names from a few elite NHL defensemen for the sake of an apples-to-apples comparison. What we’re looking at here are combined numbers over the last two seasons from four d-men that have been healthy for most of those campaigns.
Here are the four defensemen’s numbers in goals, assists, points, plus-minus, hits and blocked shots.
Three of the four players listed here have had their names mentioned in conversations for the Norris Trophy this year. The fourth, Seabrook, has not.
As we look through the numbers, there is really one that pops off the page. Player C has been plus-66 over the last two seasons (plus-33 in each year), an incredible number for any position.
The other number that sticks out is Player D’s 419 blocked shots, 100 more than any of the other three players. Any player averaging over 200 blocked shots per season over two years says a lot about that player’s durability and willingness to pay the price for their team.
But the rest of the numbers are pretty similar.
Players B and C have the most points, but Player A isn’t that far behind. Indeed, the goal and assist numbers for the three are spread out, with Player B having the biggest total, but the spread between Player C and Player A isn’t huge (eight).
Player A has the most hits on the chart, and is second in blocked shots; he blocked 68 shots more than Player B over the past two seasons.
Player A: Brent Seabrook
Player B: Shea Weber
Player C: Zdeno Chara
Player D: Dan Girardi
Fans of Western Conference teams might be surprised to see Girardi’s name included, but anyone who has watched the Rangers play the last two seasons will tell you he’s absolutely among the best defensemen in the league.
Perhaps most interesting for even Hawks fans, though, is seeing how Seabrook’s numbers stack up against Weber and Chara over the past two seasons.
The captains in Nashville and Boston, respectively, have been on the short list of Norris candidates for the last few years, and both figure to be spending a few days in late June in Las Vegas again this summer. But stacking Seabrook up against them shows that the Hawks’ less-heralded star is every bit the impact player that the other two headliners have been.
In fact, Seabrook has eclipsed even his partner as the best defensemen in Chicago.
He might not ever be able to emerge from the shadow of Keith in the eyes of the national media, but Seabrook’s numbers indicate that he’s become every bit the threat that his partner has been. Keith is considered the more offensive-minded defenseman, but he’s posted only 85 points (three more than Seabrook) and is plus-14 (seven lower than Seabrook) over the last two years.
Seabrook surprised some when he was selected over others, including Dion Phaneuf, for a spot on Canada’s blue line in the 2010 Winter Olympics. But his numbers over the last two seasons show that he is among the best physical defensemen in the NHL.
And, at some point, he should receive Norris Trophy consideration.