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January 17, 2013
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Top 10 Projected Defensemen

by Robert Vollman and ESPN Insider

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Every season, we use the cold, dispassionate eye of the VUKOTA projection system to predict who will be the league's top defensemen. Even with the retirement of the legendary Nicklas Lidstrom, a Swede still finished on top.

Here are the top 10 projected defensemen for the 2013 NHL season, along with their predicted goals versus threshold mark for the 48-game campaign:

1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: 9.5 GVT

It was an interesting offseason for Karlsson, having signed a seven-year extension with the Senators the day before winning the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman -- the third-youngest winner ever, and the second Swede. After getting married later in the summer, Karlsson left to tear up the Finnish league, where he was recently suspended for sliding his stick at an official. Karlsson's offensive contributions are well established, having outscored every other defenseman by at least 25 points last season, but he has unfortunately picked up an unfair reputation for being poor defensively despite faring just fine against top opponents with only Filip Kuba (now in Florida) at his side.

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