Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: A banner weekend for NHL defenceman valuation

What is a No. 1 defenceman worth? Rather a lot.

It's almost impossible to put an accurate price on the ability to put a guy out there for 23, 25, 28 minutes a night who can retrieve pucks or break up attacks and instantly start the puck going the other direction, generate offence from the blue line on the power play, occasionally kill penalties. Much like a No. 1 goaltender, you often don't even know what a No. 1 defenceman provides until you rather pointedly don't have one. Then you start feeling his absence all over the ice in every game situation.

The problem is that no one seems to understand what is or is not a No. 1 defenceman at the NHL level. This weekend provided a number of classic examples of why.

Let's think about Oliver Ekman-Larsson, for instance. At some point, the hockey world

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NHL Arizona Coyotes Buffalo Sabres Chicago Blackhawks Columbus Blue Jackets Philadelphia Flyers Vancouver Canucks Vancouver Canucks NHL Adam Boqvist Oliver Ekman Larsson Shayne Gostisbehere Seth Jones Rasmus Ristolainen Kevyn Adams Bill Armstrong Jim Benning Chuck Fletcher
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