The best teams in the NHL are often very strong in their own end. No team is better than the Bruins, who just so happen to have a dynamite defensive grouping.
General manager Don Sweeney deserves credit for the work he’s done to build his blue line around top-end talent. Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm have established themselves among the best blue liners in the league, and they’re both under contract through the 2029-30 season.
The rest of the NHL certainly respects what the Bruins have done, at least as it pertains to those two. ESPN.com on Thursday published the defensemen portion of its position rankings in which they polled 10 players as well as 10 front-office and/or coaching types for their opinions on the league’s best players.
When it came to defensemen, McAvoy ranked among the best. The 25-year-old ranked fifth on the list. According to ESPN.com, one voter even gave McAvoy a first-place ballot, and he also received a nod for second place. One Western Conference executive thought the Boston University product was ranked too high, but that seemed to be splitting hairs, saying he was “more a 6 or 7.”
Lindholm, on the other hand, just missed out on the top 10. However, he missed by technicality. He tied with Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton when it came to points, but Hamilton’s highest ranking was better than Lindholm.
“I think a player like Lindholm today is even higher than (Rasmus) Dahlin,” an Eastern Conference executive told ESPN.
Dahlin, the young Buffalo Sabres blueliner, finished eighth on the list.
Further underscoring the Bruins’ strength in their own end is the fact Linus Ullmark ranked seventh on the ESPN ranking of goalies.