The NHL's top defensive forwards: The early returns

A very early look at the Selke-calibre seasons so far around the league. Keep in mind that this only includes players who play regularly at even strength and on the penalty kill:

1 RYAN CALLAHAN NYR 18 0.16 1.10 0.00
2 RYAN BAYDA CAR 16 0.19 1.20 2.50
3 MIKKO KOIVU MIN 14 0.30 1.55 4.06
4 ROBERT LANG MTL 14 0.09 0.82 3.76
5 DANIEL ALFREDSSON OTT 15 0.05 1.57 0.00
6 STEPHANE VEILLEUX MIN 14 0.14 2.52 0.00
7 MARIAN HOSSA DET 15 0.14 1.92 4.84
8 ALEX BURROWS VAN 16 0.10 1.93 3.74
9 MARCO STURM BOS 16 0.19 1.01 8.00
10 PAVEL DATSYUK DET 15 0.11 1.84 5.00
11 ANTTI MIETTINEN MIN 14 0.28 2.67 4.59
12 TIM CONNOLLY BUF 5 0.02 2.09 0.00
13 PATRICE BERGERON BOS 16 0.15 0.94 9.06
14 JAY PANDOLFO N.J 15 0.28 2.15 6.41
15 JEFF CARTER PHI 15 0.23 2.64 5.01
16 SCOTT GOMEZ NYR 17 0.20 2.44 5.57
17 JAMES SHEPPARD MIN 14 0.08 3.02 0.00
18 ERIC BELANGER MIN 14 -0.01 2.07 0.00
19 FERNANDO PISANI EDM 13 0.17 3.39 1.97
20 JARRET STOLL L.A 15 -0.13 1.14 0.00
21 JOE PAVELSKI S.J 18 0.03 2.09 2.85
22 PATRICK EAVES CAR 13 0.07 1.39 6.70
23 SERGEI FEDOROV WSH 12 -0.03 2.00 0.00
24 JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER N.J 14 0.16 1.29 11.03
25 T.J. OSHIE STL 10 -0.07 1.50 2.65
26 MARTY REASONER ATL 15 0.12 2.18 6.02
27 ERIC STAAL CAR 16 0.26 2.21 7.53
28 DANIEL WINNIK PHX 15 0.13 1.47 10.10
29 RYAN KESLER VAN 16 0.12 2.50 5.75
30 PAUL STASTNY COL 15 0.11 2.90 4.82


I very nearly made the headline on this one: Oh no, Bayda!

Let's start with the usual suspects: Koivu, Alfredsson, Pandolfo, Veilleux, Hossa, Datsyuk and Kesler were always on this list when I ran it last season. Koivu should win the Selke if he stays healthy and has a campaign like he did last time around, and the other six players always play against top opposition and keep goals against down.

One of the best things about these lists, however, is that we get a look at some players who hardly ever get any due outside of their own markets. Ryan Callahan's a good example of a hard-working, undersized player who's a real joy to watch on the Rangers. The amount of penalty killing he's doing is a bit low to be included here (1.60 per game), but he's yet to have been on the ice for a power-play goal against.

Ryan Bayda, meanwhile, is another player having a strong season. He's smallish, a good skater and a very good penalty killer from what I've seen, someone who has honed his defensive game in the minors. He's logging about three minutes a game on the PK this season and the stats there are solid.

How about Robert Lang showing up here from the Habs? Or Marco Sturm in Boston? Tim Connolly's probably due to the small sample size (five games), but you can see solid defensive players like James Sheppard, Fernando Pisani, Joe Pavelski and Marty Reasoner getting their due.

Blues rookie T.J. Oshie's another great penalty killer who makes the list.

I don't think the forwards list is quite as accurate as the defencemen one at this early point in the season, but I'll try and keep on top of this as the season goes along. A few players just missing out on the top 30 are pretty notable: Alex Semin, Jordan Staal, John Madden, Mike Fisher, Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Sharp are all very close and play more minutes than many of those listed.

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