Every season, we use the cold, dispassionate eye of the VUKOTA projection system to predict who will be the league's top defensemen. Even with the retirement of the legendary Nicklas Lidstrom, a Swede still finished on top.
Here are the top 10 projected defensemen for the 2013 NHL season, along with their predicted goals versus threshold mark (GVT, our player value metric, explained here) for the 48-game campaign:
1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: 9.5 GVT
It was an interesting offseason for Karlsson, having signed a seven-year extension with the Senators the day before winning the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman -- the third-youngest winner ever, and the second Swede. After getting married later in the summer, Karlsson left to tear up the Finnish league, where he was recently suspended for sliding his stick at an official.