Ranking the World Cup defense groups

Erik Karlsson leads a Swedish defenseman group that sets the pace for the world. Where do all the other World Cup teams rank? Nils Petter Nilsson/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images

When Team USA won the World Cup in 1996, the group was loaded with forwards. It was the era of Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk and Brett Hull. Some of the all-time greats.

Of course, Mike Richter was an absolute wall in goal, but the Americans don’t win it all that year without Chris Chelios and Brian Leetch anchoring the defense.

A World Cup-winning team needs balance throughout its lineup, and it doesn’t hurt to have a couple future Hall of Famers on defense.

The groups participating in this year’s World Cup more than qualify, with blue lines that are absolutely stacked, especially the country at the top of this list. Here’s a look at the rankings of the World Cup defense groups: