Top 4D

You kids today make me crazy with your new fangled meanings for old timey words and phrases. Why, it’s getting to the point that at least once a day I say something normal and can hear guffaws in the background because what I’ve said means "crotch" or "bitch’ or "you’re soaking in it." Top 4D? Get off my lawn!

What IS a top 4D? Would Kevin Lowe have been one? Randy Gregg? Geoff Smith? I would guess that a reasonable frame of reference has to do with how players are used. For instance, I count FIVE top 4D among this group of Oilers from 2005-06:

For me, Chris Pronger is a #1 D, a guy who plays monster minutes in every discipline. After that, Spacek was a fairly complete defenseman in 05-06 too, playing even, powerplay and penalty kill minutes that took up a lot of the available playing time for the team.

After that, Steve Staios did a little of everything and played over 20 minutes a night, Jason Smith took big PK minutes and was close to the same. MA Bergeron was also a top 4D, in fact on that team he played a lot of special teams–especially before the trade deadline.

So that’s 5 guys (Pronger, Spacek, Staios, Smith and Bergeron) we could call top 5D and then role players like Tarnstrom and Ulanov are outside the definition with the rookies. Fair?

2011-12 Oilers D

I count no one in the Pronger category (Whitney of course is injured so these numbers are no what we have come to expect from him). I count

  • Gilbert as being a touch shy of the 2006 Spacek
  • Smid’s role as being similar to Jason Smith’s
  • Petry somewhat similar to Staios
  • Potter in the MA Bergeron role

Obviously we’re comparing across teams and saying Smid=Smith isn’t true, but the roles they play on their teams is similar. That’s the Oilers top 4 from my pov. Peckham getting the Ulanov role (outside the top 4), Sutton (similar to Smith but fewer minutes) Whitney is a top 4 when healthy but this has been a difficult season, and Cam Barker having the look of a top 4 defender before his injury. 

A month from now? Who knows. Corey Potter is struggling, Andy Sutton is surging and Tom Gilbert and Cam Barker are soon to return. Seems like everyone has taken a turn in the top 4 this season.


I’m not sure. I honestly don’t know the true definition of a top 4 defenseman. The 2005-06 example suggests that Pronger, Staios, Smith and Bergeron all qualify and that the Oilers added Spacek and then move Bergeron down the depth chart. Would Oiler fans 2005-06 agree with that? Does that jive with your memory?

The current top 4 based on how these men are playing right now are (in my opinion) Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry and Andy Sutton. Gilbert and Barker may have something to say about that in the next few games as they return.



I think it means we use "Top 4D" in a very sweeping manner. I’m as guilty as the next guy. We should probably be more specific about the definition. Maybe a top 4 defender is someone who plays 20 or more minutes a night. Maybe it’s someone who plays against the opponent’s best forwards.

I’d love your opinion.

Finally, a taste of "top 40" from the Golden era.


  • book¡e

    Look guys, its simple – some of you are talking the place where people play on a particular lineup and others are talking about the calibre of the player… sigh…