by PuckStopsHere on 08/25/12 at 04:37 PM ET
The NHL appears to be ending an era with the impending lockout and new CBA. This makes the period from 2005/06 to 2011/12 a well-defined era in NHL history. I have looked back and posted the top players by goals, assists and points. Today I will look at the top players by +/- ratings. This is a less precise method of ranking players than the offensive numbers but it better gives defensive players a chance to participate. The problem is that +/- ratings are strongly team dependent. We will see more players in this list who spent the last seven years in Detroit or Vancouver than in Columbus or Edmonton because their teams were more successful. Ideally +/- ratings need to be adjusted to be more meaningfully compared. This becomes less true when we look at several years of data because circumstances tend to even out over time but they are clearly not even for all players.
Here are the top 20 players from 2005 until now by +/- ratings:
This list consists of 21 players due to a tie at 20th place. Pavel Datsyuk leads this list and teammate Nicklas Lidstrom comes second. Those two have a significant lead over anyone else. The Sedin brothers come next. They are followed by Joe Thornton, Henrik Zetterberg, Zdeno Chara, Alexandre Burrows and Dany Heatley. Those nine players are the only ones who managed a +100 rating or better.
There are six defencemen on the list in Lidstrom, Chara, Willie Mitchell, Duncan Keith, Jeff Schultz and Brian Rafalski. Mitchell and Schultz made it despite their lack of offensive ability. The tie at 20th place between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin is kind of fitting for this time period.
Several players make this list despite their failure to play the entire time period. Jonathan Toews is 14th and Nicklas Backstrom is 16th despite their rookie season of 2007/08 being two years into the time period. Jeff Schultz’s rookie year was 2006/07. Brian Rafalski retired after the 2010/11 season and did not play the last year of the time period. Nobody on this list played fewer games than Toews. Thirteen of these players played the entire time period with one team - which provided them with stability.
This is a group of players who were on the ice for significantly more goals for than goals against in the time period of 2005 until now. Generally that is a sign that they were very successful players in the time period. This is due to the skill of the players in question as well as the circumstances in which they played. These players came from better teams in the NHL in the time period..
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