The primary role of NHL defensemen is to prevent their opponents from scoring. There are those, however, who are as renowned for their offensive skills as their defensive ones.

Some, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning's Victor Hedman, play a terrific two-way game, contributing to their team's scoring while playing a responsible defensive game. Others, like the Colorado Avalanche's Cale Makar, excel on the attack.

The following is our ranking of the top-10 offensive defensemen in the NHL today. Some are established veterans, while others are young blueliners rising quickly among the ranks of the game's elite puck-moving rearguards. Recent performance, career offensive numbers and consistency factored into this compilation.

You can weigh in on this topic in the comments section below.

 

Honorable Mention

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

Winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2016-17, Burns enjoyed five straight 60-plus point campaigns from 2014-15 to 2018-19, including a career-best 83-point effort. However, the 36-year-old's point-per-game production (0.59) over the past two seasons slid to 24th among NHL blueliners.

         

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

A Norris Trophy winner in 2015-16, Doughty had exceeded the 40-point plateau seven times in his 13 NHL seasons. The 31-year-old's point-per-game production (0.56) declined over the past two seasons to 29th among all rearguards as the Kings rebuilt with younger talent.

       

Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

The Calder Memorial Trophy winner in 2014-15, Aaron Ekblad has five seasons with at least 36 points, including a career-best 41 points in 2019-20. The 25-year-old had 22 points in 35 games in 2020-21 before suffering a season-ending leg injury.

        

Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars

In just three seasons, the 22-year-old Heiskanen blossomed into the Stars' best all-around defenseman. He netted 33 points during his 2018-19 NHL debut, 35 points 68 games as a sophomore and 27 points in 55 games last season. He was also their leading scorer (26 points) in the 2020 playoffs.

     

Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks

A two-time Norris Trophy winner, Karlsson netted at least 62 points six times in his 12 NHL seasons. Injuries, however, have hampered the 31-year-old since joining the Sharks in 2018-19, dropping his point-per-game average (0.57) to 21st overall during that period. 

       

Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues

After nine seasons with the Boston Bruins, Krug signed with the St. Louis Blues in 2020. He struggled at times with his new club last season, finishing with 32 points. That's the first time he was below 40 points in a season since 2014-15.

       

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins

The 23-year-old McAvoy rose in just four seasons to become the Bruins' top defenseman. He's netted 30-plus points three times and could be poised to put up bigger numbers as he enters his playing prime.

        

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

A strong skater who logs big minutes for the Maple Leafs, the 27-year-old Rielly reached or exceeded 27 points in each of his eight NHL campaigns. That includes a career-high 72 points (along with 20 goals) in 2018-19.

        

Shea Theodore, Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights' patience in developing Theodore's game is paying off. The 26-year-old rearguard netted 46 points in 71 games in 2019-20 and 42 points in 53 games last season. He could move up among the elite puck-movers with a strong outing in 2021-22.

        

Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets

The 24-year-old Werenski is a skilled and mobile blueliner, tallying 47 points as a rookie in 2016-17. He exceeded the 40-point plateau again in 2018-19 and 2019-20. A season-ending injury limited him to 20 points in 35 games last season.

        

Keith Yandle, Philadelphia Flyers

The 35-year-old Yandle sits fourth overall among defensemen with 600 points since his NHL debut in 2006-07. However, his output fell to just 27 points in 56 games last season, the lowest since his 12-point performance in 2007-08.

 

10. Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers

Over 10 NHL seasons, Tyson Barrie has proved himself as a reliable point-producing defenseman. Since his first full campaign in 2013-14, he's tallied 38-plus points eight straight times across stints with the Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers.

The 30-year-old Barrie's offensive skills put him seventh among NHL defensemen since 2013-14 with 381 career points. He led all blueliners in scoring last season with 48 points.

Signed in July by the Oilers to a three-year contract, Barrie's production should remain among the league's best. He became a key cog in their offensive attack last season, especially on the power play. He should remain among the league's high-scoring defensemen while skating with superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

 

9. John Klingberg, Dallas Stars

John Klingberg wasted little time establishing himself among the NHL's scoring defensemen, tallying 40 points in 65 games in 2014-15. The 29-year-old became the Dallas Stars' highest-scoring blueliner over the past seven seasons with 327 career points and is ninth overall among all NHL rearguards during that period. 

A superb skater with strong play-making abilities, Klingberg tallied 40 points or more in his first five NHL campaigns. Injuries and a shortened schedule limited him to 32 points in 2019-20, but he netted 36 points in 53 games the following season.

Eligible for unrestricted free-agent status in July, Klingberg could earn a lucrative new contract with the Stars or another NHL club. A return to his 40-point form this season could ensure a hefty raise as well as maintain his place among the league's elite offensive defensemen.

 

8. Dougie Hamilton, New Jersey Devils

Dougie Hamilton's offensive skills were apparent early in his NHL career with the Boston Bruins, exceeding 40 points for the first time in 2014-15. Those abilities would make him the top defenseman in this year's NHL free-agent market, earning him a seven-year, $63 million contract with the New Jersey Devils.

The 6'6", 230-pounder isn't a physical blueliner, but he uses his long reach to strip opposing players of the puck and his big strides to move the puck up the ice. Thanks to his powerful shot, he sits fourth among all rearguards with 94 total goals since 2014-15. He also netted at least 40 points six times in the past seven seasons with the Bruins, Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes.

Now 28, Hamilton faces the challenge of becoming a blue-line leader for the rebuilding Devils. They could become a playoff contender if he maintains his usual level of production with his new teammates.