At 24, Drew Doughty has already etched himself quite the legacy. The Max Kaminsky Trophy for the Ontario League’s best defenseman, two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup, and perhaps a second league title on the way. At his current pace, leading the playoffs in defenseman scoring, a Conn Smythe Trophy could be Doughty’s next accolade.
With 17 points so far, Doughty’s playoff point total doesn’t quite crack the top 30 all-time highest-scoring playoff seasons by a defender. But with the potential to play six more games (though he’d surely rather play only three more), Doughty only needs four more points to leapfrog his way into the top 10. There’s a good chance he does, but there’s no chance he cracks the top three. Here’s the five most productive playoff runs by defensemen.
5. RAY BOURQUE (1991) — 25 points
The oldest player on this list, Bourque was 30 when he scored 7 goals and 25 points with the Bruins in ’91. Amazingly, Bourque set the mark in just three rounds; the B’s fell to the eventual Cup champion Penguins in six games in the Wales Conference final. Bourque’s brown bears were halted by a 25-year-old Mario Lemieux, who went on to win the Conn Smythe, finishing the playoffs with 44 points, a total that holds up as second-best all time. Bourque’s post-season success carried over the momentum of his outstanding regular season in which he led the Bruins with 94 points, edging Craig Janney and Cam Neely, who both cracked 90. The B’s and Pens met again the next year in Round 3, but the Bruins were swept and Bourque didn’t reach the conference final again until 2000 as a rental with Colorado.
4. DENIS POTVIN (1981) — 25 points
During the Islanders’ run of four straight Cups from 1980 to ’83, Isles captain and former No. 1 overall pick Potvin topped 20 points three of those four playoffs, topping out at eight goals and 25 points in the 1981 post-season. The Islanders were monsters, going 48-18-14 in the regular season, and were equally as destructive in the playoffs, sweeping two series and losing only three games in the tournament. Mike Bossy also enjoyed his most prolific playoff that year, scoring 17 times in 18 games and totalling 35 points, which set the record for most playoff points, a mark which would fall to Wayne Gretzky two years later.
3. AL MACINNIS (1989) — 31 points
The ’89 Flames were loaded with skill and character, and MacInnis led the way offensively on a squad that featured Joe Mullen, Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, and a cast of other players Don Cherry would approve of. MacInnis put home seven goals and assisted on 24, besting Joe Mullen by seven points for the team playoff lead, en route to winning the Conn Smythe. Prior to clinching the series, Disney arranged for MacInnis to be asked what he planned to do after winning the Cup, and paid him to say, “I’m going to Disneyland!”
2. BRIAN LEETCH (1994) — 34 points
Perhaps the most impressive total on this list, Leetch tallied 34 points in a post-season which saw an average of 5.7 goals per game, compared with 7.4 scored in 1985 (see No. 1 below). Leetch did have a few ex-Oilers on his side, though, in the form of Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe, Esa Tikkanen, Adam Graves, Jeff Beukeboom and Craig MacTavish. Before Tim Thomas, Jonathan Quick and Patrick Kane won the Conn Smythe in successive seasons, Leetch was the first American to win it. Perhaps Henrik Lundqvist will someday challenge for the unofficial distinction of Best Ranger of All Time, but as it stands, that’s Leetch.
1. PAUL COFFEY (1985) — 37 points
Unless the NHL shifts to larger nets or significantly smaller goalie equipment, Coffey’s record of 37 points by a defenseman will never be equalled. The 23-year-old D-man set the mark in 18 games, equating to a points-per-game mark of 2.06. Not only is his 1985 point total the best ever by a defenseman, it is the sixth best playoff total ever, trailing only Gretzky and Lemieux, who own the top five. The ’85 playoffs also saw Gretzky set the all-time mark for points in a single post-season by scoring 47 in 18 games. Edmonton bulldozed its road to the Cup with a record of 15-3.