This is an interesting list for a number of reasons.
But first, what is plus/minus? It sounds like a modern sabermetric, like WAR in baseball or PER in basketball, but actually, +/- has been calculated since the late ’60s.
It’s supposed to be an indicator of how good a defensive player someone is. And in that sense, the top 20 below do show that. Most of these guys are defensemen (13 of 20, including the top three).
This is one of those lists where Wayne Gretzky appears – and none of his offensive peers do. Gretzky and Bobby Clarke, according to +/-, are the best defensive centers to play the game (…post 1967-68).
Most of these skaters are in the Hall of Fame. McCrimmon, Lidstrom (still active), Dallas Smith and Chris Chelios (will be) are not.