No. 4 — MacKenzie Weegar (Florida Panthers)
Not only does he rock a great mustache, but MacKenzie Weegar is also easily one of the brightest up-and-coming defensemen in the NHL today. The stay-at-home defender makes his money by locking down the opposing team’s best skaters, night-in, night-out.
At 28-years old, Weegar is a late bloomer after being drafted in the 7th Round (206th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft, but it’s what gives him a chip on his shoulder being an underdog. When we watch the Florida Panthers play, we often see Aaron Ekblad buzzing on the ice, however, the only reason he has this luxury is that Weegar is the ultimate safety net. He’s always in the right place at the right time and makes the small plays that result in big opportunities.
Through 44-games played, the defensive defenseman has 3 goals and 22 assists while maintaining a rocking +20 plus/minus. As impressive as these numbers are, they’re not representing his true impact.
Among all blue-liners in the NHL, few are more consistent in disrupting opportunities for the opposition. MacKenzie Weegar uses his sturdy 6’0″ – 200 lbs frame to get in the shooting lanes, blocking 5.40 shots per 60 minutes of play, with a total of 94 thus far on the year. Additionally, he ranks second in takeaways with 57, averaging 3.27 per 60 minutes.
When talking about what makes an elite defenseman in the NHL, you have to consider the impact that the skater has on both ends of the ice. MacKenzie Weegar has solidified his role as one of the top defenders in the NHL today due to his incredible 200 ft. game.