Drafting good defencemen is key. The problem is, there are so many that have 40 and 50-point potential. I’ve compiled the top 30 blueliners and have taken into account where they are positioned on their respective team’s power-plays. These rankings are based off of Yahoo’s standard league categories – adjust accordingly.
1. Brent Burns (SJ – D)
Brent Burns should be the number one defenceman off the board. Last season, he finished one point behind John Carlson for the most points by a defenceman. The amount of shots he gives you is miles ahead of what any other defenceman give, it’s crazy. He scored only 12 goals on 332 shots, yeah that won’t happen again. Even on a down year he was still so good.
2. Victor Hedman (TB – D)
If you miss out on Brent Burns, it’s not the end of the world. Victor Hedman is one of the few defencemen that can give you all of the categories. He’s on the elite, high offensive Tampa Bay Lightning. There’s not much else to say, the team just scores and Hedman will get his points.
3. Erik Karlsson (OTT – D)
The top 3 fantasy defencemen are basically set in stone. Karlsson is coming off a down year, but let’s face it, Ottawa was just terrible. When he gets traded, his value will go up. Would it shock anyone if he gets traded and wins the James Norris Trophy for best defenceman? His 4.6 shooting percentage was the lowest since his rookie season and he’s had only one season below 7%. The rebound is coming.
4. Dustin Byfuglien (WPG – D)
Big Buff had a dreadful first half and showed everyone it was nothing more than a slow start. After the first half, he put up 26 points in 31 games and then 16 points in 17 playoff games. He’s got his mojo back and that’s a good thing because Winnipeg is so good.
5. Drew Doughty (LA – D)
Doughty finally reached the 60-point plateau. This is also the second time in his career that he’s put up 200+ shots, so hopefully that’s here to stay. He gives you all the categories and I expect a repeat season with the talent they have. Ilya Kovalchuk and a healthy Jeff Carter should make life easier.
6. P.K. Subban (NSH – D)
In his second season with Nashville, P.K. became the main man on the blueline for the power-play, forcing Roman Josi to the second unit. P.K. is the guy you want. He’s also one of the few defencemen who dished out over 100 hits. I wish he’d shoot more.
7. John Carlson (WSH – D)
Here’s the man who led all blue-liners in points. After splitting much of the power-play with Matt Niskanen in 2016-17, Carlson finally cemented himself as the guy on the point. He set career-highs in power-play points while playing 77% of it. Another big reason for his success was the amount of shots he took. He finished the season winning the Stanley Cup, posting 20 points in 24 games.
8. Seth Jones (CBJ – D)
The former fourth overall pick is living up to his potential, but there could be more. Columbus was one of the best teams in the second half and Jones was all over the score sheet. He posted 25 points in 29 games, followed by five points in six playoff games. He is a rising star and at 23 years of age, he is only going to get better.
9. Kris Letang (PIT – D)
The only thing holding back Kris Letang is health. He actually played almost all the games last season and he left you wanting more. Pittsburgh had the best power-play and I’m surprised he only had 20 power-play points. Justin Schultz has proven he can man the point, but it’s still Letang’s for now. The potential for great things on a great team keeps drawing me back in.
10. Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI – D)
Gostisbehere finished three points behind Carlson with 65, but finished ahead of him to lead all defencemen with 33 power-play points. There’s no question who runs the power-play (Claude Giroux), but Gostisbehere has proven he’s the right man for the point, draft with confidence.
11. John Klingberg (DAL – D)
Last season, Klingberg set career-highs in points and shots on goal. With 67 points, he finished one behind Carlson. The offensive defenceman for the Dallas Stars is locked in as the top guy and we should expect another productive season.
12. Roman Josi (NSH – D)
Even with P.K. Subban anchoring the top power-play, Josi still provides a lot of value. Amongst defencemen, he finished third with 253 shots on goal and he still managed to put up 20 power-play points. The only concern is if he still doesn’t get enough power-play time, he has to really contribute five-on-five and those shots on goal must stay in order for him to be really valuable. Maybe Nashville will mix it up and put him on the point as well.
13. Torey Krug (BOS – D)
Torey Krug has some competition in Boston as rookie sensation, Charlie McAvoy, is creeping up on him. I still think the power-play is his, which is a good thing because the Boston Bruins had the fourth best in the league. He’s offensive, Boston’s offensive, sign me up.
14. Alex Pietrangelo (STL – D)
Alex Pietrangelo set career-highs in goals, points, and shots on goal. What a fantastic year he had, except, where are the power-play points?! The first half for the St. Louis Blues was unreal, so unreal that they came crashing down to Earth in the second half. 35 points in 47 games in the first half and 19 points in 31 games in the second. Maybe this is the year he takes the next step like John Carlson.
15. Dougie Hamilton (CAR – D)
I’m excited to see what Dougie Hamilton can do with the Carolina Hurricanes. For years he was known as a second-half stud, and last year he didn’t disappoint. He also never had the luxury of getting a lot of power-play time, which finally changes this year. Only Brent Burns takes more shots than Dougie Hamilton, yeah I’m excited.
16. Tyson Barrie (COL – D)
Colorado is going to be very interesting this year and it’s mainly due to Nathan MacKinnon. The man on the point for the power-play is Tyson Barrie. Barrie set career-highs in goals, points, and power-play points. If you can stomach his plus-minus you’ll love him.
17. Morgan Rielly (TOR – D)
Morgan Rielly has shown amazing growth last season. He recorded career-highs in almost every category and since he is the best defenceman on the team, he should be rewarded with the top power-play time. Even if the power-play time ends up being split like last season, then Rielly is the one I want over Jake Gardiner.
18. Keith Yandle (FLA – D)
Ever since Keith Yandle left the desert he has not eclipsed the 50-point plateau, but that changed last season. Florida was one of the hottest teams in the second half and Yandle was a big contributor. He recorded 31 points in 35 games and is anchoring the power-play. I do wonder if Aaron Ekblad gets another shot at it, but so far it’s looking like Yandle is the guy you want to own.
19. Ryan Ellis (NSH – D)
The third Nashville defenceman on this list plays with Josi. The pair play together five-on-five and on the second unit power-play. He put up 32 points in only 44 games which should increase his draft stock. Ellis knows how to score, the last few years he’s scored 9, 10, and 16. He would have scored double digits for the third consecutive season if not for playing half the year. I like him and you will too.
20. Matt Dumba (MIN – D)
Dumba eclipsed 50 points for the first time in his career, and surprisingly, he did not do it with many power-play points. Without the power-play time I’m not sure if he can do a repeat performance. The good thing is he will contribute a lot in the shots and hits department and 40 points should be the floor.
21. Rasmus Dahlin (BUF – D)
Hockey analysts say Rasmus Dahlin is a generational player like Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid. Hopefully Buffalo will allow him to be on the top power-play so he can showcase his skills with Jack Eichel. It will be amazing if he can have that sort of impact that those two players had in their rookie years. This guy is the early rookie of the year favourite, don’t you want to be a part of that?
22. Rasmus Ristolainen (BUF – D)
With the buzz in Buffalo being all about Rasmus Dahlin, we can’t forget about this guy. First let’s just look at the hits and shots. No other defenceman on this list accumulated as many hits as he did. Buffalo may be bad, but Ristolainen contributes to all the categories if you can stomach the plus-minus.
23. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI – D)
I suppose most of the stuff regarding Ristolainen may apply to Ekman-Larsson. Yes, the plus-minus is an issue, but he also hits and gives you shots. If drafting one or both of these guys, you have to plan accordingly. Both have realistic shots at 50 points.
24. Ivan Provorov (PHI – D)
Provorov had a very successful rookie campaign. He was just as good as Rasmus Ristolainen and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He also won’t see top power-play time, but if you draft him, he will help you out in the rest of the categories. He’s a rising star and if anything happens to Gostisbehere, he’ll be the man.
25. Jake Gardiner (TOR – D)
Leafs fans may not have forgiven Jake Gardiner for his glaring -5 performance in Game 7. It’s a new season and both him and Rielly had very good statistical seasons in which they posted career-highs in points. Regardless of where they play, Toronto is an offensive powerhouse so the points will come.
26. Duncan Keith (CHI – D)
At 35 years of age, this old Hawk is coming off his worst season since he broke into the league. Yes, the Blackhawks aren’t the scary team they used to be, but Keith still anchors the power-play. He also had a 1.1 shooting percentage as he only scored two goals, which is crazy low. I expect a bounce-back season and why not take a chance when his stock is super low.
27. Oscar Klefbom (EDM – D)
People may be forgetting about Klefbom and after a poor showing last season he probably would want to as well. This young defenceman is still honing his craft and I expect the Edmonton power-play to be better. They have Connor McDavid and any time you can give McJesus the puck, the points will come.
28. Ryan Pulock (NYI- D)
It feels like we’ve been waiting for Ryan Pulock for a long time and he’s finally here. Late last season, he took over the New York Islanders power-play and looked real good. It’s going to be fun to watch him grow and you might have a potential 50-point player.
29. Kevin Shattenkirk (NYR – D)
Last season, the New York Rangers expected to contend with the signing of Kevin Shattenkirk. Unfortunately, a torn meniscus cost Shattenkirk half the season and the Rangers decided to retool. When healthy, he runs the power-play and should hover around the 40 to 50-point range, then again, all players ranked after Yandle have that potential.
30. Mikhail Sergachev (TB – D)
The rookie sensation was traded for Jonathan Drouin and it’s looking like Tampa Bay won the trade. This is exactly the type of defenceman that Montreal could have used last season. With the Lightning being a great offensive team, the points will come.