Ranking the Top Five Defensive Pairings in the NHL

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tampa bay lightning, nhlMikhail Sergachev #98 of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev

Before the house is burned down, let’s discuss why defensemen Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev are not a top three defensive pair. Hedman is the best defenseman in the world. We all know that. He stands at 6-foot-6, weighing more than 230 pounds and can skate like the wind. There are truly very few things that are scarier than that. His awareness is immaculate and his ability to make plays is simply unfair.

However, what makes the best defensive pairing in the NHL is self-explanatory when you read the name. It’s a pair of defensemen. The reason why Hedman and Sergachev didn’t crack the top three of this list is that when you breakdown this duo, you have the best player at the position in the world (that’s a given), and another guy who is also pretty good himself, but he’s nowhere near the same caliber as his partner. Though after being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens, defenseman Mikhail Sergachev has made quite a name for himself in Tampa Bay.

Serving alongside Hedman, he won his first Stanley Cup in 2020 in a year that was filled with the ultimate combination of highs and lows. For the 22-year old Russian, the Cup was earned by playing a pivotal role in shutting down some of the best forwards the NHL has to offer. Playing 22:37 TOI per game in 25 Playoff games, Sergachev contributed three goals and seven assists for 10 total points, 41 blocked shots, and 63 hits. For a trophy that requires sacrificing all of yourself, he did just that.

Unfortunately, what sets this duo back, preventing them from cracking the top three on this list, is Mikhail Sergachev. When you break them down individually, are they both All-Stars? The answer is no. Victor Hedman would still be Victor Hedman – the best defenseman in the NHL, no question. However, Mikhail Sergachev is not at that level yet to be regarded as an All-Star in the league. He’s still very young and can easily work his way to becoming one but, right now, he’s a replaceable piece for this pairing, thus keeping them outside of the top three.

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