- Fantasy Hockey Top 10
- Written by Brendan Ross and Tom Collins
Looking at the 10 most appealing 2014 NHL Draft-eligible defensemen for fantasy hockey (pure offense)
With the NHL draft just four sleeps away, poolies are trying to gather as much information as possible on prospects to have a better idea of who to select when their fantasy drafts happen later this summer.
Knowing more about these prospects may also give hockey fans a better idea of why a NHL team is drafting a certain player this weekend.
Last week, we focused on the top 10 pure offensive forwards in this week’s NHL draft. This week, Brendan Ross, manager of DobberProspects, gives his top 10 draft-eligible offensive defencemen available in this year’s draft.
10. Gavin Bayreuther (St.Lawrence, ECAC)
A 1994-born defender, Gavin Bayreuther made headlines playing for St. Lawrence University and finishing third in NCAA defensive scoring with 36 points in 38 games as a freshman. If he were available as a free agent, Bayreuther would've been arguably the top collegiate target.
9. Brandon Montour (Waterloo, USHL)
Small by NHL standards, '94-born defenseman Mark Friedman teamed with fellow 2014 high scoring prospect Mark Friedman (a worthy candidate for this list too) to lead the USHL in blue line scoring with 62 points in 60 games with the Waterloo Blackhawks.
8. Sebastian Aho (Skellefteå, SWE)
Undersized as a sub-5-10 player, there is nothing small about the way Swedish defenseman Sebastian Aho plays. He's a gritty defender that uses physicality and an aggressive defending style to limit time and space. Stemming from a cerebral approach, Aho is an intuitive defender with excellent skating ability and that combination leads his offensive game. Few defensemen can see the ice as well as Aho and it's a dangerous quality when operating the point.
7. Roland McKeown (Kingston, OHL)
Much more was expected of Roland McKeown's offensive game by now and although he hasn't quite produced the offensive numbers, he's showing progression. McKeown is blessed with outstanding skating skills and it provides him with opportunities that other defenders couldn't afford to take in the O-zone. On the power play, McKeown is a smart distributor and while his shot could use some more zip, overall he is an effective PP member. The team drafting McKeown will be looking to tap into his massive potential that he's just beginning to realize.
6. Luc Snuggerud (Eden Prairie, USHS-MN)
Named Minnesota's Top Defenseman as the recipient of the Reed Larson Award, Snuggerud is a naturally intelligent player and it's this IQ that allows him to engage offensively. He was produced at over a point-per-game in the Minnesota high school league and showed his ability to lead the offence as a puck rushing defender.
5. Haydn Fleury (Red Deer, WHL)
One of the draft's most gifted skaters, Haydn Fleury is considered the second best defenseman of the 2014 draft class. On the power play, Haydn shows comfort under pressure with the puck and walk the line with ease or skate into an open area. His ability to read the opposition and handle the puck will become real good offensive assets.
4. Jack Dougherty (USNTDP, USHL)
Just beginning to tap into his potential, American Jack Dougherty is an efficient defenseman with an underlying offensive talent that will develop with increasing confidence. It helps that he's reliable defensively but Dougherty also isn't shy about jumping into the rush and his quick-footed game allows him to jump in as an attacker. He should find himself on the scoresheet as he becomes more comfortable with this style.
3. Aaron Ekblad (Barrie, OHL)
Once considered to have a mediocre offensive skill set, Ekblad's skating, puck skills and confidence in possession increased since arriving in the OHL as an underage prospect. The gains in his offensive game are pretty remarkable and he's become a threat on a regular basis. Ekblad's point shot features impressive velocity and a knack for finding a path to the net, as evident by his league leading 23 goals from the blue line.
2. Julius Honka (Swift Current, WHL)
Finnish import defenseman Julius Honka combines speed, elusive agility and intelligent decision making to lead the Broncos' offense from the backend. Not overly large or physically strong, Honka's mobility and top-end hockey sense allows him to be an impact player in all three zones and on both sides of the puck.
1. Tony DeAngelo (Sarnia, OHL)
Passionate and volatile at times, DeAngelo uses the fire in his veins to spark dazzling offensive rushes. His ability to operate the power play is unmatched in this draft class as he relies on creative passing lanes and confident puck skills to initiate scoring chances. If his defensive commitments were better, it would be easier to cast away the red flags that have been pinned on DeAngelo.
Honourable mentions: Jack Glover (USNTDP, USHL), Joe Hicketts (Victoria, WHL), Brycen Martin, Dysin Mayo (Edmonton, WHL), Brandon Montour (Waterloo, USHL)