The Toronto Maple Leafs have been graced with a ton of phenomenal defensemen over the course of their history spanning over 100 years.
It’s shocking to realize that since the introduction of the James Norris Memorial trophy in 1954, which is awarded to the NHL’s best defenseman each season, not a single player has been honoured with the award as a member of Toronto Maple Leafs.
Some Leafs have been close though. Four players were runner-up in Norris trophy voting as members of the Toronto Maple Leafs and you’ll see them all in this top 10 list along with some Hall of Fame defensemen who played in an era before the Norris trophy was in existence.
There is even a defenseman who is one of only two players to win the Hart Memorial trophy as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. You’ll see him on the list, but the other former Leaf to take home the Hart was centre, Ted Kennedy.
Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs Defensemen of All-Time
Now, I’m not over 100 years old, so I haven’t watched every Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman play. This list was mostly created based on honours and recognition given to the players by the NHL, qualified hockey historians and the Toronto Maple Leafs organization themselves.
I’m also basing everything on player achievements while with the Toronto Maple Leafs and not career achievements, so while players like Brian Leetch, Phil Housley, Larry Murphy… had great careers, they aren’t on this list because they didn’t do enough while with the Leafs.
I used vote-based analytics instead of stats as much as possible because there is a lot more to being a defenseman than putting up points. When possible I used trophy or all-star voting positions to rank the players among their peers.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs centennial season in 2016, the organization selected a committee to comprise a list of the Top 100 players in Toronto Maple Leafs history which was also helpful in compiling this list. (stats quanthockey.com).
Let’s begin with some honourable mentions: