Top 20 Eastern Conference Fantasy Defensemen - Part 2 of 2
Last week we covered the bottom half of the top 20 Eastern Conference defensemen. This week, we will complete the list by looking at the top 10. One of my theories is that if your defence is better than everyone else's, then your forwards don't have to be as good. It is typically easier to find good forwards than top offensive defensemen on the waiver wire.
We're not looking at keeper value here, only what kind of return we can expect for the coming season (ever the optimist). Without further ado, here is the best half of the top 20 Eastern Conference fantasy defensemen as ranked by the Eastern Edge:
10) Brian Campbell - Florida Panthers
The 33-year-old may be getting a little long in the tooth, but he tied for the most time on ice per game (26:53) with Duncan Keith and had the third most power play time on ice behind only Ilya Kovalchuk and Brad Richards. The reigning Lady Byng winner is less valuable in roto leagues that use penalty minutes as he was assessed only six minutes in each of his last two seasons, but if your league is points-heavy, this guy is gold for 50-55 points this season.
9) John Carlson - Washington Capitals
I think it's safe to say that last season was a write off for most Caps players and fantasy owners alike. Carlson was no exception, regressing from 37 points to 32 points. With Dennis Wideman now in Calgary, the path is cleared for Carlson to take his place on the top power play unit. It will be Carlson's fourth NHL season. This past September, Carlson signed a six year contract extension worth a hair under $4-million per season, indicating that he is going to be a big part of this team going forward.
8) Tobias Enstrom - Winnipeg Jets
In each of his first three NHL seasons, Tobias Enstrom logged the full 82 game slate. The last two years have been less kind with Enstrom only available for 72 and 62 games as injuries caught up with the undersized Swede. Prior to last season, he recorded back to back 50 point seasons, so 45 points should be easy money.
7) Mike Green - Washington Capitals
One of the more divisive fantasy players the NHL has to offer. Is Green the 70 point threat he was back in 2009-10 (back to back 70 point years!) or is he the injury-prone player who has missed 83 games over the last two NHL seasons? The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. His 70 point days are almost certainly done, but if the 27-year-old can stay healthy and the changes in Washington turn out as projected, then Green's risk/reward potential is worth taking a chance on in most draft formats.
6) P.K. Subban - Montreal Canadiens
Another controversial character, Subban broke into the league with a bang, both on the scoreboard and with his physical play. In his rookie season, he recorded 38 points and the third most penalty minutes by a defenseman with 124. Last season, he was the top sinning blueliner. With maturity, we will see his penalty minutes diminish as his points rise as soon as this season. This guy is a gamer and will only get better. Much better.
5) Dion Phaneuf - Toronto Maple Leafs
After jumping straight to the NHL from junior, Phaneuf averaged 51.5 points in his first four NHL seasons with the Flames. He then struggled over the next couple of years, culminating in a trade to Toronto. Last year with the Leafs, Pierre McGuire's favourite player recorded 44 points, good for twelfth best by a defenseman. He also recorded the sixth most goals and power play points, seventh most penalty minutes and hits and the 9th most shots on goal. This guy is the Swiss Army Knife of NHL defensemen. Don't expect any less from the 27-year-old next season.
4) Zdeno Chara - Boston Bruins
Big Z is 35 years-old, but still has a couple of very good seasons left in his ridiculously large WWE body. He recorded a career best 52 points last season, the third time in the last five seasons that he hit the half century mark. He'll contribute greatly in roto leagues in multiple categories, including penalty minutes (86), plus/minus (plus-33) and took 224 shots on goal, the fifth best by a defenseman last year.
3) Dustin Byfuglien - Winnipeg Jets
Knock this guy all you want, he came into camp last season overweight (again), but he still produced. In the 2010-11 season, even though he experienced some legal troubles that summer, Buffy had an epic fantasy season. He recorded 20 goals (tops amongst defenseman), the fourth most points (53), eleventh most power play points (24) and penalty minutes (93) and an incredible 347 shots on goal, second only to Alexander Ovechkin's 367! Last season, he was on pace to score 66 points (53 points in 66 games). He's 27-years-old and in the prime of his career.
2) Kris Letang - Pittsburgh Penguins
Let's see, the guy has all the tools AND his supporting cast includes two perennial Art Ross and Hart trophy candidates in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Letang has an edge to his game which gives him the potential to rack up triple digit penalty minutes. Last season, he was on pace for 16 goals and 68 points, something he can clearly achieve if only he could stay out of the infirmary. In his five "full" NHL seasons, Letang has reached the 75 game mark only once.
1) Erik Karlsson - Ottawa Senators
I really like Letang, so it wasn't as easy as you might think for me to place the reigning Norris Trophy winner in this slot, but the numbers speak very loudly in the young Swede's favour. Last season, Karlsson took 70 per cent of his even strength shifts with the dearly departed Filip Kuba, so the 22-year-old will have to adjust and may take a small step back this season. The coming season will be Karlsson's fourth in the NHL. If salary is not an issue, then Karlsson is a slam dunk winner over Letang, especially when you factor in the latter's penchant for injury.
1) The logo of the Pittsburgh Penguins has an inverted golden triangle behind a hockey playing penguin. What does the triangle symbolize?
2) The Chicago Blackhawks were founded on September 25, 1926 when a franchise was awarded to Major Frederic McLaughlin. How much did he pay as a league entry fee?