Everyone knows the Sharks have some of the best defensemen in the NHL, but depending on who you ask, that might not be giving them enough credit.
Last week, NHL Network ranked the top-20 NHL defensemen heading into next season, and let's just say San Jose was well represented.
That's right. According to the league network, the Sharks not only have the best defenseman in the NHL, but two of the best four overall. The rankings seem pretty darn accurate, considering each of Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, Mark Giordano and Erik Karlsson are all former or current Norris Trophy winners.
Giordano won the award this past season after tallying 17 goals and 57 assists for the division-winning Flames. But it was Burns (16 goals, 67 assists) who led all NHL defensemen last season with a career-best 83 points.
"He's big, he's gnarly, he's a guy that is a dynamic player that changes the game in a split second," NHL Network's Ken Daneyko said of Burns. "He's such a beast, and when he's playing physical as well -- and you see that at times -- he's a menace out there."
Karlsson was acquired in a trade with Ottawa just prior to the start of the regular season, and could have given Burns a run for his point-leading money had he not been severely hampered by a nagging groin injury throughout the year. For segments of the regular season, though, including arguably the Sharks' best stretch in which they won 16 of 21 games starting in early December, he was undoubtedly their best player.
"Probably the best offensive defenseman, for my estimation, in the national hockey league," Daneyko said of Karlsson, whom he expects to have an even better season next year now that he's acclimated and, hopefully, healthy.
NHL Network posed the same question to fans, and, well, they had a slightly lower opinion of both of San Jose's star defensemen.
There's a lot of great defensemen on that list and all of them should feel honored to be listed among them. We're going to go out on a limb and assume the Sharks are feeling pretty good about the status of their back end.