2017 Fantasy Hockey Preview: Defencemen
Brent Burns scoring totals last year would have been great even for a forward. (The Canadian Press)
The corps of elite defencemen seems to have thinned out slightly because of injury considerations, age or off-years in 2016-17.
Last season produced only nine rearguards with 50 or more points, down from a dozen the year before. But of the D-men who will attract the most attention on draft day, bushy-bearded Brent Burns is the first to come to mind and will likely garner first-round status based on his 29 goals and 76 points.
But Lightning’s Victor Hedman (our pre-season pick last year to win the Norris) and Senators’ Erik Karlsson, coming off foot surgery, won’t be far behind.
Following is a loose list of the projected top fantasy defencemen. broken down into tiers — which means, at the moment, there’s not a lot to choose between any of the names in that grouping and, depending on personal preference, any one could be as valuable a pick as anyone else.
Brent Burns SJ
Drafting his goals and assists is like adding an extra forward to your team.
Victor Hedman TB
Only four points behind Burns but his plus-minus dropped from plus-21 to plus-3.
Erik Karlsson OTT
Highest points-per-game over the past three years but will miss first few weeks
Dustin Byfuglien WPG
A rare combination of points and penalties makes him an attractive pick.
Kris Letang PIT
Elite offensive potential though he has missed a third of Pens games since 2011.
Roman Josi NAS
A safe pick though numbers dipped slightly in his first season without Weber as a partner.
Duncan Keith CHI
Reversed slight downhill trend by returning to 50-point, plus-20 plateau.
Shea Weber MON
Top-shelf, all-around blueliner kept it going in his first season as a Hab.
P.K. Subban NAS
We’re expecting an improvement on 40 points and minus-8 in second year with Preds.
Drew Doughty LA
Safe high fantasy pick, but falling plus-minus reflective of team’s tumble.
Zach Werenski CLB
As a rookie, quickly established himself among league’s top defencemen.
Dougie Hamilton CGY
Goals, assists, points and PIMs have increased in each of his five years.
Kevin Shattenkirk NYR
Thanks to his wicked shot, should be best NYR powerplay QB since Leetch.
Ryan Suter MIN
NHL-best plus-34 what separates ice-eater from other 40-point D-men.
Alex Pietrangelo STL
Now Blues’ undisputed go-to D-man, doubling his goal total from seven to 14.
Rasmus Ristolainen BUF
Rising PIM totals even more reason to jump on this emerging young star.
Mark Giordano CGY
Goals and points well down from 2015-16, but plus-minus rocketed up.
Justin Schultz PIT
Wonder if his stunning breakout would’ve happened if still on improved Oilers?
Justin Faulk CAR
His 17 goals tied for second-best among NHL D-men, but minus-18 hurts.
Seth Jones CLB
Partnered with Werenski a definite plus. Has all the tools to be a superstar.
Torey Krug BOS
Minus-10 offset by team-leading 25 power-play points. Starting on IR.
Jake Gardiner TOR
Breakout candidate has grown in leaps and bounds in two years under Babcock.
John Klingberg DAL
Salvaged a sophmore slump season in final 25 games, going 5-13-18.
Oscar Klefbom EDM
Emerging star had 26 of his 38 points in second half of season.
John Carlson WAS
Best thing for him and his owners is that Shattenkirk moved on.
Aaron Ekblad FLA
Former first overall pick took major step backwards with 21 points, minus-23.
Ryan McDonagh NYR
May not produce as much on scoresheet with Shattenkirk in town.
Shayne Gostisbehere PHIL
Best news is that he led all NHL D-men in power-play time on ice per game.
Keith Yandle FLA
Reliable veteran has hit the 40-point mark eight seasons in a row.
Colton Parayko STL
Will he get more PP TOI with Shattenkirk gone? He didn’t after the trade.
Ryan Ellis NAS
Has improved his points per game every year for the past four.
Cam Fowler ANA
Coming off an 11-goal, 39-point season, both career-highs.
Jacob Trouba WPG
Will be undervalued after a brutal post-holdout start to last season (0-3-3 in 15 GP).
Jaccob Slavin CAR
Emerging youngster’s team-leading plus-23 stood out among all of those Canes’ minuses.
Brent Seabrook CHI
Goals dropped from 14 to three, but he should still be good for 40 points.
Matt Niskanen WAS
A solid bet for 35-40 points again, but has to repeat his plus-20 to maintain value.
Jared Spurgeon MIN
Flipside of a great plus-minus: Earned only five of his 37 points last year on the power-play.
Morgan Rielly TOR
Has settled into more of a shutdown role, but the offensive upside remains.
Tyson Barrie COL
His 38 points at 26 years old not nearly as attractive as the 53 he had at 24.
T.J. Brodie CGY
Endured a rough even-strength season, his plus-minus tumbling to minus-16.
Jake Muzzin LA
Looking to rebound with his entire team after offence and plus-minus took a big hit last year.
Shea Theodore VGK
First, make sure this future Vegas cornerstone actually makes opening-night roster.
Matt Dumba MIN
If his career trends hold, he should be in line for first 40-point season.
Dmitry Orlov WAS
Now on No. 1 pairing, he may top his 33 points of last year with more PP time.
Ivan Provorov PHIL
Established himself quickly as Flyers’ go-to rearguard as a rookie.
Mattias Ekholm NAS
Assumed more of a shutdown role with Subban as his partner.
Radko Gudas PHIL
An underrated fantasy blueliner with ability to contribute innumerous categories.
Nick Leddy NYI
Posted a career-high 11 goals, 46 points as Isles’ No. 1 defender.
Nikita Zaitsev TOR
Finished a surprising third in rookie defence points in his first season out of Russia.
Dion Phaneuf OTT
Value lies in being one of only a few league defencemen who can hit 100 PIMs.
Alex Goligoski ARZ
Excellent puck skills, but surprisingly inefficient with the man advantage with just eight PP points.
Sami Vatanen ANA
Coming off shoulder surgery after mustering only 10 even-strength points all season.
Alec Martinez LA
Nothing spectacular, but contributed nicely in everything from points to plus-minus to blocks.
Brady Skjei NYR
Unexpected breakout star’s 35 assists were fourth highest for a rookie D-man in franchise history.
Trevor Daley DET
He’s likely now the Wings’ No. 1 D-man and should get the ice time to show for it.
Zdeno Chara BOS
Big guy’s best days behind him, but at 40 years old and healthy, he can still produce.
Andrej Sekera EDM
Reversed a minus-15 to a plus-14 last year and chipped in with 35 points.
Tyler Myers WPG
Played only 11 games, but totalled five points in them with 13 PIMs and a plus-5.
David Savard CLB
Excellent plus-33 makes up for lack of PP time and complements his 23 points.
Mark Borowiecki OTT
Nothing offensively, but he is a one-stop fantasy hits and penalties producer.
YOUNG WITH UPSIDE: Charlie McAvoy BOS, Josh Morrissey WPG, Noah Hanifin CAR, Connor Carrick TOR
RELIABLE ROSTER FILLERS: Nick Holden NYR, Marc-Edouard Vlasic SJ, Johnny Boychuk NYI, Ron Hainsey TOR, Ian Cole PIT, Adam Larsson EDM, Josh Manson ANA
Burns SJ 29
Faulk CAR 17
Weber MON 17
Karlsson OTT 17
Ellis NAS 16
Hedman TB 56
Karlsson OTT 54
Keith CHI 47
Burns SJ 47
Krug BOS 43
Shattenkirk SL-WA 43
Burns SJ 76
Hedman TB 72
Karlsson OTT 71
Shattenkirk SL-WA 56
Keith CHI 53
Byfuglien WPG 52
Suter MIN +34
Spurgeon MIN +33
Savard CLB +33
Orpik WAS +32
Orlov WAS +32
Schultz PIT +27
Cole PIT +27
Borowiecki OTT 154
Byfuglien WPG 117
Phaneuf OTT 100
Gudas PHIL 93
Englelland CGY 85
L.Schenn ARZ 85
Borowiecki OTT 364
L.Schenn ARZ 286
Gudas PHIL 280
Larsson EDM 253
Emelin MON 241
Polak TOR 232
Russell EDM 213
Karlsson OTT 201
Cole PIT 194
de Haan NYI 190
Giordano CGY 184
Hjalmarsson CHI 181