Is Potvin One of the Greatest Defencemen of All Time?

Charny, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Denis Potvin was the greatest offensive D between Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey. He might have been the best all around defender too, as when was the last time you heard someone complain about his defence?

So obviously Denis Potvin belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But where does he rank all time?

Listen to us try to figure it out:

Hall of Fame Class of 1991: Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Bob Pulford, Clint Smith

Denis Potvin’s Career:

  • NHL: 1973-88; 15 seasons, 14 quality
  • Totals:
    • 310G (5th D All Time, 1st at his retirement, by 40)
    • 742A (10th D All Time, 1st at his retirement, by nearly 40) for
    • 1052P (7th D All Time, 1st at his retirement, by nearly 130)
    • +456 (7th All Time, 5th D, 4th D at his retirement) in
    • 1060 Games (13th D All Time at his retirement);
    • 160.7 PS (10th D All Time, 1st at his retirement);
    • Potvin is 15th All Time in Defensive Point Shares (5th at his retirement)
    • Potvin is the 9th D All Time in Offensive Point Shares (2nd at his retirement)
  • Per Game: Among D, Potvin is
    • 2nd All Time in GPG
    • 4th All Time in APG
    • 3rd All Time in PPG
  • Drafted: 1st overall in 1973, Potvin is
    • 3rd in Goals
    • 1st in Assists (by nearly 200)
    • 1st in Points
    • 1st in Plus/Minus (over double 2nd place)
    • 1st in Point Shares (nearly double 2nd place)
    • 3rd in Games
  • Era: Of the 12 D to play in at least 820 Games between 1973 and 1988, Potvin is
    • 1st in Goals (by nearly 100)
    • 1st in GPG (2 qualifying players)
    • 1st in Assists (by nearly 90)
    • 1st in APG (7 qualifying players)
    • 1st in Points (by over 200)
    • 1st in PPG (by over .2, 5 qualifying players)
    • 2nd in Plus/Minus
    • 1st in Offensive Point Shares (by nearly 25)
    • 2nd in Defensive Point Shares
    • 1st in Point Shares (by over 11)
  • 82-game average: 24G, 57A for 81P, +35
  • 3-year peak (1976-79): 80-game average of 30G, 65A for 95P, +57; 15.2 PS
  • No possession stats
  • Playoffs:
    • 56G (2nd D All Time, 1st D at his retirement),
    • 108A (21st All Time, 8th D, 1st D at his retirement) for
    • 164P (21st All Time, 4th D, 1st D at his retirement),
    • +64 (6th All Time, 4th D) in
    • 185 Games (11th D All Time, 1st D at his retirement)
    • Per Game: Among D, Potvin is
      • 3rd All Time in playoff GPG
      • 12th All Time in playoff APG (11th at his retirement)
      • 6th All Time in playoff PPG (5th at his retirement)
    • Era: Of the 19 D to play in at least 82 playoff games between 1973 and 1988, Potvin is
      • 1st in playoff Goals (by 20)
      • 2nd in playoff GPG
      • 1st in playoff Assists
      • 3rd in playoff APG
      • 1st in playoff Points (by 45)
      • 2nd in playoff PPG
      • 5th in playoff Plus/Minus
      • 1st in playoff Games
  • Adjusted for Era:
    • Hockey-Reference:
      • 257G (8th D All Time),
      • 625A (13th D All Time) for
      • 882P (10th D All Time)
      • 82-game average: 20G, 48A for 68P (-13P per 82 games)
      • Per Game: Among D, Potvin is
        • 4th All Time in Adjusted GPG
        • 8th All Time in Adjusted APG
        • 7th All Time in Adjusted PPG
    • VsX:
      • Goals: doesn’t qualify
      • 739A
      • 880P
      • Per Game: we haven’t figured out separate per game numbers for D
  • Never traded.

Denis Potvin’s Accomplishments:

  • Top 5 in Hart voting twice
  • Norris (‘76, ;78, ‘79) – tied 5th most ever
  • Top 5 in Norris voting a further four times
  • Calder (‘74)
  • Top Player:
    • Best Player (by Point Shares) once (‘79)
    • Top 5 five times (‘76, ‘77, ‘78, ‘85)
    • Top 10 eight times (‘75, ‘81, ‘83)
  • Goals:
    • 30 goals three times (1 of only 3 D ever – Orr, Coffey)
    • 25 goals four times (1 of only 4 D ever – Coffey, Orr, MacInnis – 3 at his retirement)
    • 20 goals nine times (1 of only 2 D ever – Bourque – only D at his retirement)
    • 15 goals twelves times (1 of only 3 D ever – Bourque, Housley – only D at his retirement)
  • Assists:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in Assists twice
      • Top 10 four times
    • APG leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in APG twice
      • Top 10 five times
    • Single-season totals:
      • 70 assists once (1 of only 9 D ever  – 5 at his retirement)
      • 60 assists four times (1 of only 4 D – Coffey, Bourque, Orr)
      • 50 assists nine times times (1 of only 4 D – Coffey, Bourque, MacInnis – only D at his retirement)
  • Points:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in points once
      • Top 10 twice
    • PPG leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in PPG once
      • Top 10 three times
    • Single-seasons totals:
      • 100 points once (1 of only 5 D ever – Orr, Coffey, Leetch, MacInnis, Potvin – 3 at his retirement)
      • 90 points three times (1 of only 4 D – Coffey, Orr, Bourque – 3 at his retirement)
      • 80 points five times (1 of only 4 D – Bourque, Coffey,Orr – 3 at his retirement)
      • 70 points seven times (1 of only 5 D – Bourque, Coffey, Leetch, MacInnis – only D at his retirement)
      • 60 points ten times (1 of only 6 D – only D at his retirement)
      • 50 points thirteen times (1 of only 7 D – only D at his retirement)
  • All Star:
    • 1st Team All Star five times
    • 2nd Team twice
    • 9 All Star Game appearances
  • VsX Peak:
    • Best 7 Seasons:
      • Goals: doesn’t qualify
      • Assists: 61st All Time
      • Points: 139th All Time
    • Best 10 Seasons:
      • Goals: doesn’t qualify
      • Assists: 57th All Time
      • Points: 142nd All Time

Denis Potvin’s Great Teams:

  • NHL:
    • Best Player (led playoffs in assists) on one Final four (‘76 Islanders)
    • Best Player (by points) on one Final Four (‘79 Islanders)
    • Best D (by points, led playoffs in plus/minus) on one Champion (‘83 Islanders)
    • Best D (by points) on three Champions (‘80, ‘81, ‘82, Islanders) and two Final Fours (‘75 Islanders, ‘77 Islanders)
    • Top 4 D (by points) on one Runner Up (‘84 Islanders)
  • World/Canada Cup:
    • Top 2 D (co-led tournament in points) on one Champion (‘76 Canada)
    • Best D? (by points) on one Runner Up (‘81 Canada)
  • World Championships:
    • Best D? (by points) on one Bronze (‘86 Canada)

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