NHL Power Rankings: Top Western Conference Defensemen

By Matt Barbato
9 of 11

Jun 3, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) skates with the puck during the second period in game one of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

3. Niklas Hjalmarsson 

The responsibility Hjalmarsson holds with the Chicago Blackhawks is overwhelming — to everyone except him. He is a pure defensive defenseman and is usually matched up against opponents’ top lines. When he wasn’t paired with Johnny Oduya last season, he was usually babysitting a far less talented and even less experienced defender. Additionally, Hjalmarsson is a shot-blocking machine, which is something that usually isn’t mentioned as much as it should be.

More from Editorials

He isn’t a guy that stuffs the stat sheet and posted only a 48.79 Corsi-for percentage, but Hjalmarsson is really the Blackhawks’ defensive backbone and has grown incredibly between his first Stanley Cup appearance in 2010 and his third championship in 2015.

With the Blackhawks parting ways with Oduya this offseason, it’s almost a certainty that Hjalmarsson will be relied upon heavily next season.

Next: Who's No. 2?

More from Blackhawk Up