Josi, Shesterkin, more: Top NHL defensemen, goalies so far in 2022

Josi, Shesterkin, more: Top NHL defensemen, goalies so far in 2022
Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Earlier, we kicked off April by chronicling the top NHL scorers in 2022 (since Jan. 1). To wrap up our look at the hottest players from the past few months, let’s give defensemen and goalies the same treatment.

Top NHL scoring defensemen in 2022 (since Jan. 1)

1. Roman Josi: 52 points in 35 games played
2. Cale Makar: 49 points in 41 GP
3. Kris Letang: 39 points in 39 GP
4. Adam Fox: 35 points in 33 GP
5. Aaron Ekblad: 32 points in 31 GP
6(t). Victor Hedman: 30 points in 33 GP
6(t). Charlie McAvoy: 30 points in 39 GP
8(t). Devon Toews: 29 points in 41 GP
8(t). Morgan Rielly: 29 points in 37 GP
10. Damon Severson: 27 points in 34 GP
11(t). Noah Dobson, Brent Burns, Rasmus Andersson, Quinn Hughes: 26 points

  • Truly, Roman Josi and Cale Makar are enjoying seasons to remember. Most defensemen would consider a 52 point-season a career year. Since the 2005-06 lockout, there have only been 163 instances where defensemen generated at least 50 points. Overall, Josi’s 81 points already put him at third-best during that same frame; Josi joined Brent Burns (83 points), Erik Karlsson (82), and Nicklas Lidstrom (80) as the only four defensemen to clear 80+ points in the salary cap era.
  • Cale Makar’s scored almost half (11) of his 24 goals since Jan. 1. Victor Hedman (12) is the only defensemen with more goals during that span, and the only other blueliner in double digits.
  • Impressively, many of these defensemen don’t sacrifice much — if anything — in their own end while piling up points. Don’t discount how impressive it is that Josi and Makar are putting up historic offensive numbers without really suffering on defense. Consider, for instance, their outstanding RAPM charts at even-strength, via Evolving Hockey:

[Click here for even more on the monster seasons from Josi and Makar]

  • As you can see, seven defensemen have generated 30+ points since Jan. 1. Twenty-six have scored at least 20 points.
  • Could Charlie McAvoy become more than just a dark horse Norris Trophy candidate over time? With other elite defensemen putting up enormous numbers, perhaps not. But he’s scoring enough to grab more limelight.
  • Seth Jones‘ season is rather interesting. With 22 points in his past 34 games, you might think it’s been empty calories (especially if you put weight in the near-useless plus/minus stat, as he slogged through a -22 mark during that time). Over his first season with Chicago, it’s Jones’ offense that may need the most work:
Doesn’t make his future $9.5M cap hit totally digestible, but could be worse. (via Evolving Hockey)
  • Rounding out some other names that stand out, we have John Klingberg (24 points in his past 35 games) and Rasmus Dahlin (23 points in 34 GP). Maybe Klingberg gets the contract he’s hoping for? Perhaps there’s hope for Dahlin and the Sabres?

Top NHL goalies in 2022 (since Jan. 1)

Most wins since Jan. 1

Jacob Markstrom: 20-7-3, .923 save percentage
Sergei Bobrovsky: 20-3-1, .916
Igor Shesterkin: 18-5-1, .938
Darcy Kuemper: 18-4-3, .935
Juuse Saros: 18-11-2, .919
Tristan Jarry: 18-9-2, .912
Frederik Andersen: 17-5-3, .928
Jake Oettinger, 17-9-1, .914
Andrei Vasilevskiy: 17-10-1, .911
Ilya Sorokin: 15-7-2, .928
Ville Husso: 15-4-3, .921

  • No, wins aren’t the greatest metric for measuring goalies. Consider them a starting-off point, though.
  • Igor Shesterkin’s sparkling .938 save percentage isn’t much of a surprise. Overall, he sports a .936 save percentage this season, and the sometimes-leaky Rangers defense means that his underlying numbers are somehow even better. His HockeyViz chart captures some of what makes this season historic.

  • Could workload dampen things a bit for the likes of Saros and Vasilevskiy? I can’t help but wonder if each goalie could use some breathers. Tampa Bay may or may not believe that it can risk a loss or two to keep Vasilevskiy fresh. (They’ve generally ignored my “advice” in the past, as have other rest-disinterested NHL teams.)

A few other goalies of note

  • No doubt, Darcy Kuemper’s climb back to strong numbers makes the Avalanche that much scarier. Pavel Francouz put up solid numbers at times for Colorado, too — when he’s been healthy. He missed all of last season, though, so that’s far from a sure thing. Still, do note that Francouz is 13-2-1 with a strong .921 save percentage over his last 16 games played. It’s possible the Avalanche could have two quality goalie options for the playoffs.
  • Yes, Tuukka Rask’s retirement stings the Bruins. Don’t totally discount Jeremy Swayman, however, as he’s gone 12-4-1 with a .922 save percentage in his past 18 games. (The Bruins’ strong defensive structure should bring out the best in Swayman and/or Linus Ullmark.)
  • Not sure Ottawa should hand any goalie a contract with term. Credit where credit’s due, Anton Forsberg‘s managed a .925 save percentage since Jan. 1.
  • Maybe Scott Wedgewood has fantasy hockey sleeper potential for the rest of the season? In his past 13 games, Wedegwood’s managed a strong .927 save percentage. That includes his lone Stars appearance so far, where Wedgwood made 44 saves. If the Stars really gave Wedgewood a shot, he’d have a real chance to prove himself. (Many nights, the Stars play games where basically no one scores outside of their top line.)
  • Finally, it’s amusing that Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury boast matching .907 save percentages since 2022 began. Both have 12 wins during that span, though Talbot got there in 19 games and MAF needed 27. Hot take: it will be easier for Fleury to win games on the Wild.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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