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 or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.