If I were to rank the top 10 defenseman in the NHL, I’d almost certainly put Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews in that group. I love the way he plays, and how cerebral he is. He makes everything look effortless.
But putting him in the top 3? I don’t think I’d go that far. Mike Kelly of Sportlogiq and the NHL Network, on the other hand, was not afraid to go there. He put it out there for all the world to see, ranking Toews as the third best defenseman in the league. Somewhere, Toews’ agent is taking notes.
Yes, Kelly even ranked him above Adam Fox. New York Rangers fans will take that well, I’m sure.
Kelly is a lot smarter than me, and explained exactly why he’s got Toews ranked so high.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 25, 2023
“His defensive game, we all know, is elite,” Kelly explained. “If you look at what he’s done, in terms of production, over the last three years, which is what this model considers, he leads the NHL in points by a defenseman at even strength. Better than everybody. I wrap that all together. Devon Toews is the release valve for Cale Makar. Cale wants to go and rush, Devon is there to be that release valve for him. And he’s also got all the great offensive ability as well.”
Seeing the stat of Toews leading the league in even strength points over the last three years is eye-popping. Yeah, he spends a lot of time on the ice with Makar (obviously), MacKinnon, and Rantanen, but that’s because he excels in that role. If he wasn’t performing, they might put someone else there.
Toews, as we all know, is entering the final year of his contract, and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. There’s been very little mention of an extension with the Avalanche, but that’s hardly surprising, given how they operate. If it happens, it will likely drop out of nowhere. Another big extension would make life under the salary cap even more difficult for Colorado, but I have no idea how they can just let someone that good walk for nothing. I think something gets done, but for now, we wait.