Dec 09, 2011; Winnipeg, MB, CANADA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian (4) checks Carolina Hurricanes forward Jiri Tlusty (19) into the boards during the first period at the MTS Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE

The Best Of The Best: Defensemen In The Southeast

Jan. 16, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) and Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell (51) both battle a loose puck against he \boards during the first period at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE


Do you know the saying, “Defense wins championships.”? Well for the most part that quote is as true as they come. Year in and year out, teams rely on their defense to help carry them on the long path to success. At the end of the day, only one team can say that they’ve had the best season in the league and normally, they turn to their defense and thank them for what they have to put their body through throughout the length of a season and for their sacrifice displayed in order to win.

The Southeast Division has a great balance of offensive players, defensive players, and goalies. The division is filled with both young talent and experienced veterans. On Tuesday I did an article about the top five offensive players in the division. With that being said it is only fair that I show the defense some love, so, here we’re going to take a look at who I believe are the top five defenders in the Southeast Division.

Number 5-Zach Bogosian, Winnipeg Jets

When Zach Bogosian was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets), the expectations were through the roof. At just 18 years old, Bogosian was given an entry level contract with the team and was put in the starting lineup on opening day. On opening night, Bogosian became the youngest player to play for the Atlanta Thrashers at 18 years and 87 days. An immense amount of pressure was put on Bogosian quickly. However, a lot of eyes slowly came off of Zach as he broke his leg just eight games into the season. The next two seasons Bogosian was bothered by multiple injuries. Although he was injured for the most part of the 09-10 season, he only missed one game. The 10-11 season was a bit different as Bogosian missed a total of 10 games. Prior to last season, Zach resigned with the Jets. The contract was for two years and was worth five millions dollars. Although missing significant time last season, Bogosian proved his worth while he was on the ice. In the 65 games he played last year, he set career highs for assist (25) and points in a season (30). It is no secret that injuries have definitely held Bogosian back from his full potential. However, if he could remain healthy this year, Bogosian is in line to have a tremendous year.

Number 4-John Carlson, Washington Capitals

When the Capitals took Carlson 27th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, they had hopes that he can be a key part in what was already an average, but rebuilding defense. After spending some time in the NHL, it didn’t take long for Carlson to fit in. In just his second season with the Capitals, and his first full season with the team, Carlson was able to make the All-Star team. With the future already looking bright for Carlson, he returned in his second full season Carlson not only had almost identical numbers, but he also improved his defense and cut down his penalty minutes in half. Entering his third full season with the Caps, Carlson should finally have a breakout season. The past few years for John have definitely been good ones, and now the much more mature Carlson will look to take this defense by storm.

Number 3-Matt Carle, Tampa Bay Lightning

After being traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning just 12 games into his tenure with them, Matt Carle has been displaying his talents for the Philadelphia Flyers. For the past four years, Carle has been dominating, not only offensively, but defensively as well.  During his time with the Flyers, Carle has been showing off his offensive skills and the ability to dish the puck to his teammates in order for them to score goals. Over the past four years, he has accounted for 122 assists. This past offseason many teams wanted the services of Carle. Many teams lobbied to get him on their squad, however, the Lightning were the lucky ones to win his services. Carle hopes that his time with Tampa will be a little bit different than the last one and with a newly signed six year contract worth 33 million dollars; I don’t think that Carle will be going anywhere anytime soon.

Number 2-Mike Green, Washington Capitals

February 20, 2012; Raleigh, NC, USA; Washington Capitals defensemen Mike Green (52) against the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC center. The Hurricanes defeated the Capitals 5-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE

Every year when a team drafts a player, they hope they can turn around and be a great one. Although it is not easy to find the great ones, the Capitals drafted a good one with Green. It took a couple of years for Green to fully develop, but when he did, he was one of the best defenders in the league. During the 08-09 season, Green missed a total of 14 games. That is certainly a lot of games; however, despite missing 14 games, he still was able to score a total of 73 points. After a fantastic season, he was nominated to the All-Star game. The next season was just as good for Green. He not only played in seven more games, he also improved his point total as he reached a career high for point total in a season at 76. Unfortunately for Green and Washington, Green has missed a ton of games of the past two seasons. During the last two years, he missed a total of 83 games. His absence has certainly showed on the ice as the Capitals are still having struggles in the playoffs as they lost yet again in the Conference Semifinals for the third time in the last four years. If Green can find a way to stay healthy, he could easily return to being one of the best defenders in the league.

Number 1-Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers

If you were a general manager and needed a defender on your team, Brian Campell is normally a really good fit for your team. Although his contract might be on the pricey side, Campbell is definitely worth it. Campbell is basically the complete package; he’ll contribute offensively, play great defense, stay on the ice, and importantly, won’t commit any stupid penalties. In fact, last year Campbell led both the Panthers and the league in certain categories. When it came to assist, Campbell led the Florida Panthers with 49 of them. When it came to average time on the ice, Campbell led the league, and in the 82 games that Campbell played last year, he only had to be sat down by the refs for a total of six minutes. Campbell was also key in the Panthers capturing their first ever division title and without Campbell on this team, who knows where our defense and offense would’ve been at. Brian Campbell is not only one of the most complete defenders in the division; he is one of the most complete defenders in the National Hockey League.

So there you have it, my list of the top five defensive players in the Southeast division. I would love to see who you guys think should’ve either have been taking off this list or should’ve made this list.

Thanks For Reading!

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Tags: Brian Campbell Florida Panthers John Carlson Matt Carle Mike Green Zach Bogosian

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