Is Paul Coffey the Greatest Offensive Defenceman of All Time?

Horge, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Coffey’s offensive stats are just staggering. He owns the single season goals record for a defender and almost topped Orr’s points record. He had both an extremely high offensive peak and also did things consistently through his career that few have ever done before. If he was healthier at the end, he probably would be the highest scoring D in NHL history.

But, especially in the ’80s, there were huge concerns about his defense. And some people still believe he should have played forward.

So where does he rank all time? Does such a player belong in the Hall of Fame?

Listen to us talk about Paul Coffey here:

Hall of Fame Class of 2004: Larry Murphy, Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque

Paul Coffey’s Career:

  • NHL: 1980-01; 21 seasons, 19 quality
  • Totals:
    • 396G (2nd D All Time)
    • 1135A (6th All Time, 2nd D) for
    • 1531P (13th All Time, 2nd D),
    • +298 (17th D) in
    • 1409 Games (13th D);
    • 20:42 ATOI (since 1998-99, less than 150 games)
    • 185.7 PS (10th All Time, 4th D)
    • Coffey is 23rd All Time in Offensive Point Shares (2nd D)
  • Per Game: Among D, Coffey is
    • 3rd All Time in GPG (behind Orr and Potvin)
    • 2nd in APG (behind only Orr)
    • 2nd in PPG (behind only Orr)
  • Draft: Drafted 6th overall in 1980, Coffey is
    • 5th in Goals
    • 1st in Assists (by 400)
    • 1st in Points (by over 130)
    • 2nd in Plus/Minus
    • 1st in Point Shares
    • 2nd in Games Played
  • Era: Of the 7 D to play in at least 1,230 games (15 seasons) between 1980 and 2001, Coffey is
    • 1st in Goals and GPG
    • 1st in Assists and APG
    • 1st in Points and PPG
    • 4th in Plus/Minus
    • 2nd in Offensive Point Shares
    • 6th (2nd last) in Defensive Point Shares
    • 2nd in Point Shares
  • 82-game average: 23G, 66A for 89P, +17
  • 3-year peak (1983-86): 80-game average of 43G, 87A for 129P, +57; 15.1 PS
  • No possession stats
  • Playoffs:
    • 59G (1st D All Time),
    • 137A (4th All Time, 2nd D) for
    • 196P (6th All Time, 1st D),
    • +53 (12th All Time, 7th D) in
    • 194 GP (10th D);
    • Per Game: Among defence, Coffey is
      • 2nd All Time in Playoff GPG
      • 3rd All Time in Playoff APG
      • 3rd All Time in Playoff PPG
  • Adjusted:
    • Hockey Reference:
      • Totals:
        • 338G (2nd All Time* excluding Dit Clapper)
        • 1009A (10th All Time, 2nd D)
      • 1347P (2nd D All Time)
      • 82-game average: 20G, 59A for 78P
      • Per Game: Coffey is
        • The 5th D All Time in Adjusted GPG
        • 18th All Time in Adjusted APG (2nd D)
        • 2nd D All Time in Adjusted PPG
    • VsX:
      • 353G
      • 1,094A (11th All Time)
      • 1,258P
      • Per Game: Coffey is not in the Top 25 on any VsX Per Game leader-boards. However, if the qualifier is set to 820 games, Coffey is
        • 21st All Time in VsX Adjusted APG If the qualifier is set to 1,230 games, Coffey is
          • 10th All Time in VsX Adjusted APG
          • 25th All Time in VsX Adjusted PPG
  • Trades:
    • Traded at 26 with Dave Hunter (29) and Wayne Van Dorp (26) to Pittsburgh for Craig Simpson (20), Dave Hannan (nearly 26), Moe Mantha (26) and Chris Joseph (18)
    • Traded at 30 to LA for Brian Benning (25), Jeff Chychrun (25) and a 1992 First Rounder (Jason Bowen)
    • Traded at 31 with Sylvain Couturier (24) and Jim Hiller (22) to Detroit for Jimmy Carson (24), Marc Potvin (26) and Gary Shuchuk (26)
    • Traded at 35 with Keith Primeau (24) and a 1997 First Rounder (Nikos Tselios) tp Hartford for Brendan Shanahan (26) and Brian Glynn (28)
    • Traded at 35 with a 1997 3rd Rounder (nobody) to Philadelphia for Kevin Haller (26), a 1997 First Rounder (Scott Hannan) and a 1997 7th Rounder (nobody)
    • Traded at 37 to Chicago for a 1998 5th Rounder (Francis Belanger)
    • Traded at 37 to Carolina for Nelson Emerson (31)

Paul Coffey’s Accomplishments:

  • Top 5 in Hart voting twice
  • Norris (‘85, ‘86, ‘95) – tied 5th most ever
  • Top 5 in Norris voting a further eight times
  • Back Check co-MVP (‘95)
  • Top Player:
    • Top 5 Player (by PS) six times (‘82, ‘83, ‘84, ‘85, ‘86, ‘95)
    • Top 10 Player seven times (‘89)
    • Top 5 Defensive Player (by DPS) once (‘95)
    • Top 10 Defensive Player twice (‘86)
    • Top 5 Offensive Player (by OPS) three times (‘84, ‘85, ‘86)
    • Top 10 Offensive Player five times (‘89, ‘95)
  • Goals:
    • Leader-boards: Top 10 once
    • GPG leader-boards: Top 10 once
    • Single-season totals:
      • Most single-season goals by a D ever
      • 45 goals once (1 of only 2 D – Orr)
      • 40 goals twice (only D ever)
      • 35 goals three times (1 of only 2 D – Orr)
      • 30 goals four times (2nd most by a D ever)
      • 25 goals seven times (only D ever)
      • 20 goals eight times (1 of only 3 D ever – Bourque, Potvin)
  • Assists:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 5 seven times
      • Top 10 nine times
    • APG leader-boards:
      • Top 5 nine times (1 of only 8 players ever)
      • Top 10 twelve times (1 of only 5 players ever)
    • Single-season totals:
      • 90 assists once (1 of only 11 players ever, 1 of only 2 D – Orr)
      • 80 assists four times (1 of only 4 players ever, 1 of only 2 D – Orr)
      • 70 assists six times (1 of only 4 players ever, 1 of only 2 D – Orr)
      • 60 assists eleven times (1 of only 2 players ever – Gretzky – only D)
      • 50 assists fourteen times (1 of only 5 players ever – only D)
      • 40 assists fifteen times (1 of only 13 players ever – 1 of only 3 D – Bourque, Lidstrom)
  • Points:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 5 three times
      • Top 10 six times
    • PPG leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in PPG once
      • Top 10 seven times
    • Single-season totals:
      • 130 points once (1 of only 23 players ever, 1 of only 2 D – Orr)
      • 120 points three times (1 of only 12 players ever, 1 only 2 D – Orr)
      • 110 points four times (1 of only 12 players ever, 1 of only 2 D – Orr)
      • 100 points five times (1 of only 18 players ever, 1 of only 2 D – Orr)
      • 90 points seven times (1 of only 17 players ever, only D)
      • 80 points nine times (1 of only 2 D ever – Bourque)
      • 70 points eleven times (1 of only 2 D ever – Bourque)
      • 60 points fourteen times (1 of only 21 players ever, 1 of only 2 D – Bourque)
      • 50 points fifteen times (1 of only 3 D ever – Bourque, Lidstrom)
  • Plus/Minus: 
    • Top 5 three times
    • Top 10 four times
  • All Star:
    • 1st Team All Star four times
    • 2nd Team All Star four times
    • 14 All Star Game Appearances
  • VsX Peak:
    • Best 7 Seasons:
      • Goals: doesn’t qualify
      • Assists: 15th All Time
      • Points: 49th All Time
    • Best 10 Seasons:
      • Goals: doesn’t qualify
      • Assists: 14th All Time
      • Points: 46th All Time

Paul Coffey’s Great Teams:

  • NHL:
    • Best D (by points, led the playoffs in Plus/minus) on one Champion (‘84 Oilers)
    • Best D (by points) on two Champions (‘85, ‘87 Oilers) and two Runners Up (‘83 Oilers, ‘95 Red Wings)
    • Top 2 D (by points) on one Champion (‘91 Penguins) and one Final Four (‘96 Red Wings)
    • Top 4 D (by points) on one Runner Up (‘97 Flyers)
  • Canada/World Cup:
    • Best D (by points) on one Champion (‘84 Canada)
    • Best D (by points, but his teammate made the All Star team) on one Champion (‘91 Canada)
    • Top 2 D (by points) on one Champion (‘87 Canada)

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