by PuckStopsHere on 12/22/13 at 07:58 PM ET
Currently the top +/- rating in the NHL belongs to Francois Beauchemin of the Anaheim Ducks. He has a +21 rating and is one point ahead of four other players. Beauchemin is a very good defenceman and there is an interesting myth surrounding him that he only plays well in Anaheim.
Beauchemin first had success in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks in the 2005/06 season. He quickly became an important part of the Ducks as their number three defenceman, where he won the Stanley Cup. He played significant minutes with the team but was kept behind future Hall of Famers Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger in the depth charts. In 2009 he signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs. There he was immediately removed from the shelter of playing behind Niedermayer and Pronger. Beauchemin was moved into a very tough role. He played all the most defensive shifts against the opponent's best offensive players with little support from his team. Toronto wasn't a good team and the fans needed a whipping boy to take things out on. Their new free agent signee became that man for many fans.
Beauchemin was traded back to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner in 2010. Beauchemin had injury issues when he got back to Anaheim. He missed most of the next season with a knee injury. After he fully recovered, he was able to play a starring role with Anaheim. Last season, he finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting and this year he is the NHL's +/- leader.
While it isn't true that Beauchemin only plays good hockey in Anaheim, it is the only place he has been given a big role that didn't push him beyond his limits. He isn't really one of the top few defencemen in the NHL. Last season was a fluke that was made possible due to a lockout-shortened season. He is a good second tier defenceman. Playing his role on a top team like Anaheim, Francois Beauchemin will have a good +/- rating and there is a chance he could lead the league at the end of the season.
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