Hockey Defenseman

Ice Hockey Defenseman

A defenseman is a position in hockey. Unlike forwards, the defenseman is a key player in a team’s ability to block goals and apply pressure in the defensive zone. It is up to the defensemen to help the goalie and prevent shots on goal.

Roles and Responsibilities

The defensemen are responsible for neutralizing offensive players in the defensive zone. They play a strong defensive game and play a major role in blocking shots and protecting the goalie. Defensemen have a job of supporting the goalie by stopping the puck from entering the net and intercepting the puck from opposing players to force a turnover.

Defensemen can also play an offensive role in the attacking zone but usually remain close to the neutral zone in case the puck changes possession. Recently, defensemen have been taking on more offensive roles. Defenders have gotten better at making breakout passes, setting up their forwards in the offensive zone, and scoring goals.


The two defensive positions in hockey are left and right defensemen. Defensive positioning is typically decided by handedness and style of play.

Left Defensemen

Left defensemen play on the left side of the ice on both ends of the ice. They will pursue the puck in their respective defensive corners and break the puck up the left side of the ice. In the offensive zone, the left defenseman will play at the point on the left side of the ice. Left defensemen can be either left or right-handed. Left-handed left defensemen will have an easier time handling the puck off the boards, while right-handed left defensemen will have better shooting angles and the ability to one-time the puck.

Right Defensemen

Right defensemen play on the right side of the ice on both ends of the ice. They patrol the right corner in the defensive zone and will protect the front of the net when the puck is in the left corner. Right defensemen will play on the right point in the offensive zone. They can be either left or right-handed, depending on their style of play. Right-handed right defensemen will have an easier time handling the puck on passes up the boards, and left-handed right defensemen will have better shooting angles and the ability to one-time the puck in the offensive zone.

Types of Defensemen

There are three main types of defensemen in the modern game of hockey:

  1. Defensive
  2. Offensive
  3. Two-way

Defensive Defensemen

These defensemen specialize in playing a particularly strong defensive game. While these defensemen don't score very often, they play a pivotal role in shutting down the opposing teams' forwards.

Offensive Defensemen

Offensive defensemen play a more aggressive style of play. Rather than playing a more conservative defensive game, offensive defensemen will typically join in on offensive rushes and try to generate scoring chances in the attacking zone.

Two-way Defensemen

Two-way defensemen are the complete package. Not only do they play well offensively, but they play well defensively too. They are the most versatile breed of defensemen.

Defensemen Strategy

The capable defenseman is constantly moving with the puck on the ice. If the puck is far from the defensive zone, the defenseman will move closer to the neutral zone and offensive zone. A good defenseman anticipates the movement of the puck on the ice and uses his whole body to block a shot on goal.

Best NHL Defensemen

The following lists some of the top NHL defensemen of all time:

  • Bobby Orr
  • Ray Bourque
  • Nicklas Lidstrom
  • Dennis Potvin
  • Paul Coffey
  • Chris Pronger


What does a defenseman do in hockey?

A defenseman supports the goalie and blocks shots on goal in the defensive zone. Defensemen also play an offensive role when their team has the puck in the offensive zone. They will be positioned towards the top of the zone near the blue line, called the point. Defensemen will move the puck and shoot from the point, with hopes that a forward is screening the opposing goalie or a teammate can deflect it into the net.

What equipment do you need to play defenseman in hockey?

As a defenseman, you need the standard hockey equipment: a helmet, jersey, stick, pads, helmet, and visor. Another key piece of equipment for defensemen is a jockstrap, as they often block shots from the opposing offense.

Do defensemen score in hockey?

Yes, defensemen score in ice hockey. While it is less common than forwards scoring, hockey defensemen still score relatively frequently. The defenseman with the most goals scored in NHL history is Ray Bourque, with 410 career goals.