(Photo Credit: EA Sports NHL, via Twitter)
It takes a very special defenseman to be able to muscle their way onto a team’s top-four so early in their career. But, these young defensemen already boast overall ratings worthy of the placing them there, or aren’t far off and boast huge potential. To make the cut on this list, each defenseman had to be under 21-years-old and have a potential of three-and-a-half-stars or above.
Zach Werenski (86 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 21Nationality: AmericanRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: Columbus Blue Jackets, 2015 (8)Height: 188cmWeight: 95kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Defensive Awareness 90, assign 88, Puck Control 88
Zach Werenski was first famed for his incredible skating, but now he has developed into a highly skilled all-around defenseman who protects the net in the defensive end and attacks the net at the other. Already a solid top-four defenseman, he’ll grow into a team’s number one before long.
Charlie McAvoy (85, Elite med POT)
Age: 20Nationality: AmericanRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: Boston Bruins, 2016 (14)Height: 183cmWeight: 94kgShoots: RightBest Stats: Defensive Awareness 89, Stick Checking 88, Slap Shot Power 88
Charlie McAvoy excels in every area that you need your defensemen to be strong in as well as boasting bundles of offensive ability. He’s a big part of the youth revolution in Boston which gave the team a huge boost last season.
Mikhail Sergachev (84, Elite med POT)
Age: 20Nationality: RussianRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: Montreal Canadiens, 2016 (9)Height: 191cmWeight: 97kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Wrist Shot Power 91, Slap Shot Power 90, Stick Checking 89
The Montreal Canadiens really lost out when they traded Mikhail Sergachev to the Tampa Bay Lightning last summer. The towering Russian was given a chance on the team tipped to win the Stanley Cup and proved to be an almighty defenseman. Sergachev’s size and strength is a major asset, as is his skating; his thunderous shot also adds to his appeal.
Noah Hanifin (84 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 21Nationality: AmericanRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: Carolina Hurricanes, 2015 (5)Height: 191cmWeight: 93kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Shot Blocking 88, Defensive Awareness 88, Stick Checking 88
Noah Hanifin has all the makings of a top-level defenseman who will stifle opposing forwards and have a say in the offensive zone. His natural defensive skills are already very strong, his physicality is on the up, and soon he’ll hone his shooting to become a great all-around defenseman and fulfill his lofty NHL 19 potential.
Ivan Provorov (84 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 21Nationality: RussianRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: Philadelphia Flyers, 2015 (7)Height: 185cmWeight: 91kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Slap Shot Power 88, Wrist Shot Power 88, Passing 88
The hotly anticipated Philadelphia Flyers prospect competed in his second full 82-game season in 2017/18 in which he went from six goals and 30 points in his rookie season to 17 goals and 41 points in his sophomore year. He throws his body on the line in the form of checks and blocked shots, making it look like he’ll develop into one of the league’s premier two-way defensemen.
Rasmus Dahlin (82 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 18Nationality: SwedishRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: Buffalo Sabres, 2018 (1)Height: 185cmWeight: 75kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Slap Show Power 89, Wrist Shot Power 88, Balance 86
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Rasmus Dahlin would be the first overall pick in 2018. He becomes another cornerstone of Buffalo’s ever-resetting rebuild, but the first with the potential to control each game from the blueline. He’s fast, can make long tape-to-tape passes with ease, and boasts a thunderous shot. He’s a great young blueliner who could one day be the face of a franchise.
Thomas Chabot (81 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 21Nationality: CanadianRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: Ottawa Senators, 2015 (18)Height: 188cmWeight: 86kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Slap Shot Power 89, Wrist Shot Power 88, Stick Checking 87
Thomas Chabot experienced a mediocre rookie season in the NHL on a team that was imploding from within. With the main man, Erik Karlsson, off to sunnier shores (San Jose), it means that the Ottawa Senators are in full rebuild mode and willing to give more responsibility to the likes of Chabot. Given a chance in any franchise, Chabot’s well-rounded skill set will develop and create a strong, all-phases defenseman.
Brandon Carlo (81 OVR, Top 4 med POT)
Age: 21Nationality: AmericanRole: Defensive DefensemanDrafted: Boston Bruins, 2015 (37)Height: 196cmWeight: 94kgShoots: RightBest Stats: Slap Shot Power 88, Shot Blocking 87, Body Checking 87
As the likes of Ryan Suter and Marc-Edouard Vlasic continue to prove, there is a need for high-quality defensive defensemen in the NHL – it’s not all about big slap shots at the blueline. Brandon Carlo has the potential to become the next great stay-at-home blueliner who will protect your goal at all costs. But, he also boasts strong shooting attributes, so he’ll be good to have sitting in the offensive zone as well.
Jakob Chychrun (81 OVR, Elite med POT)
Age: 20Nationality: Canadian/AmericanRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: Arizona Coyotes, 2016 (16)Height: 191cmWeight: 91kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Aggressiveness 88, Balance 88, Stick Checking 87
Jakob Chychrun boasts dual citizenship as an American-Canadian from Ukrainian heritage. Despite being on the woeful Arizona Coyotes lines, Chychrun managed to maintain a positive rating through 50 games last season while conceding very few penalties. He’s a well-rounded, sizable defenseman who could develop into one of the better two-way defensemen in the game, but his attributes suggest that he’s more reliable in the defensive end.
Vince Dunn (81 OVR, Top 6 high POT)
Age: 21Nationality: CanadianRole: Two-Way DefensemanDrafted: St. Louis Blues, 2015 (56)Height: 183cmWeight: 92kgShoots: LeftBest Stats: Acceleration 88, Agility 88, Speed 88
Very mobile and trusty with the puck on his stick, Vince Dunn is a great example of the new wave of defensemen that GMs look to draft. He pulled in 24 points in 75 games last season and has been rewarded with a strong rating and worthy potential in NHL 19. If not your premier defenseman, Dunn could certainly become your trusty guardian of the second line.