The Carolina Hurricanes boast what looks to be one of the best blue lines in the NHL, as they added Dmitry Orlov, Tony DeAngelo, and Caleb Jones this offseason.
However, it is their defensemen that return to Raleigh that gives them that title and analysts at NHL Network agree.
As they continued their Top 20 position rankings, Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns found themselves touted among hockey’s best blue liners at 14th and 16th, respectively.
Slavin appeared in 76 regular season contests for Carolina, recording seven goals and 20 assists, reaching the 20-point mark for the seventh time in his career. He added in two goals and four assists in the postseason, helping the Hurricanes reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
Slavin, who brought home the Lady Byng Trophy following the 2020-2021 campaign, accrued just eight penalty minutes during the regular season, tied for the second lowest mark of his career.
“He’s old school. He’s a defensive defenseman. He’s a pure defender,” said NHL Network analyst and former defenseman Thomas Hickey. “It’s unbelievable how good his stick is and how quickly he surprises some of the best in the world. He clearly studies his game very well.”
The 29-year old led the roster in ice time at both even strength and short-handed, and while paired up with Brent Burns, he appeared to be exactly what Burns needed in his first season in Raleigh.
Burns, who was traded from San Jose to Carolina last offseason, was the other Hurricane on the Top 20 defensemen list, coming in at No. 16.
If there is one word to describe the 38-year old, it’s ‘reliable.’
Burns will enter this 13th season in the league later this year and he has not missed a contest in the last nine seasons, adding up to 761 consecutive games played. Only Vegas’ Phil Kessel, whose consecutive game streak sits at 1,064, is ahead of Burns.
“No one’s really figured out how to defend [his shot],” said Hickey. “He can deliver the puck in many ways and I think that’s what really separates him. At his age, I don’t see him slowing down.”
During his first campaign with the Hurricanes, Burns impressed, tallying 18 goals and 43 assists. He amassed 255 shots on goal, good for third among all NHL defensemen and first among the Carolina roster.
The Hurricanes were one of five teams with multiple representatives on the list, joining Colorado (Makar and Toews), Tampa Bay (Hedman and Sergachev), Boston (McAvoy and Lindholm), and Vegas (Pietrangelo and Theodore).