30 best NHL players of the 21st century: 16. Chris Pronger
Chris Pronger is considered one of the best defensemen ever. He was an incredible enforcer, but it wasn’t like he was offensively inept. He had close to 700 points over his career. Pronger started his millennium by winning the Norris Trophy in 2000. Not only that, he won the Hart Trophy as the league MVP.
Pronger is the last defenseman to win MVP. He was also the first defenseman since Bobby Orr to win the award. That season might be one of the best ones by a defenseman ever. He was insane for the St. Louis Blues.
His size was his first strength. He stood at 6’6 and 220 lbs. During an era when hitting still mattered, Pronger was one of the best. His ability to completely keep offensive players from getting a chance was invaluable in the early 2000s. The fear he put into the opponent was second to maybe only Scott Stevens.
After the NHL lockout, he became a free agent and signed with the Edmonton Oilers. He was one of the main pieces of the crazy free agent period after the NHL agreed to come back and play. He only spent one season in Edmonton before they traded him for a massive package to the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks immediately won the Stanley Cup, putting teams out in a mere 19 total games. This was after he helped the Oilers go to the Stanley Cup Final the season before. Then, a few years later, he went to the Philadelphia Flyers and took them to the Stanley Cup Final. He was incredible at changing culture and turning a team from decent to a championship contender.
It’s unfortunate how Pronger’s career ended, where concussions sidelined him before he was ready to retire. His toughness will continue to live on. Pronger is a legend in this sport, and now he lives on as a Hall of Famer.