3. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins ranking on this list has much more to do with respect than actual ability. After achieving the ultimate goal, raising the Stanley Cup, the Penguins defensive group is due praise.
Atop the Penguins’ defensive depth chart is Kris Letang. The often-injured lefty is among the best playmaking defenseman in the NHL. However, it has been six seasons since Letang appeared in a full 82-game slate.
Outside of Letang, the Penguins top-four is rounded out by Justin Schultz, Olli Maata, and Brian Dumoulin. None of them dazzle, but each has played a vital role in helping a Stanley cup winning roster.
The biggest key to this defensive group’s success has been their cohesion and ability to make the most of their opportunities. As they continue to grow as a unit, those attributes only stand to become more complete.
Every season it feels like the rest of the NHL is waiting for the Penguins defense to fall off. Perhaps this will be the year that their league average defenders begin to show holes in their game. If that becomes the case, expect the Penguins to bring in reinforcements mid-season.