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Top 20 Western Conference Fantasy Defensemen - Part 2 of 2

The holidays are almost upon us, and that means World Junior Hockey Championship time. The tournament is always exciting because it is often the first time the masses get to watch many young prospects that figure to soon be in the NHL. The best part of the World Juniors this year will be the fact that we will actually get to watch some good old-fashioned hockey, instead of listening to the players and owners argue about who should get how many millions five years down the road.

 

This year's competition will be held in Russia, and hopefully they no longer have that chicken-wire fencing up instead of glass like they did in the 1972 Summit Series. Otherwise we could see some scary injuries similar to those in a Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy steel cage match.

One legitimate factor due to the tournament being held in Russia is the start times of the games. Many will be starting at 4am Eastern and fans will have to decide if they should record the games, stay up until four, or wake up early and watch them live. Recording them could give your hours some sense of normalcy during the holiday season, but someone is sure to spoil the results before you actually sit down to watch it. Staying up late just seems counter productive and the least attractive option. I'm personally leaning towards getting up early. Having dinner at five, being in bed by 8pm, and waking before the sun rises could be a nice glimpse at what life will be like for me in 50 years.

Here is the conclusion of our list with defenders 10-1.

10) Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Phoenix Coyotes

Some may say this placement for Ekman-Larsson is a little high, but my feeling is he is on the rise and could really be a sleeper this season. Ekman-Larsson took a huge jump in his sophomore NHL campaign by scoring 32 points and really looked like one of the league's up and coming stars. He also proved he can find the back of the net as 13 of those points were goals. Add in 140-plus shots and hits, as well as the ability to produce on the power play, and the best may be yet to come from Ekman-Larsson. Not to mention he is furthering my belief that players from Sweden who have last names that end in 'sson' will turnout to be solid NHL defensemen.

9) Dennis Wideman - Calgary Flames

Wideman played in the East last year with the Washington Capitals, but his point totals would have been good enough for a tie for fifth in 2011-12 when it came to Western Conference defensemen. Now with the Flames, he figures to give their power play a boost this season. Of his 46 points last year with the Caps, 20 of those came with the man advantage. His 175 shots in 2011-12 shows he loves to shoot the puck, and he has a deceivingly hard shot. The 29-year-old also fits in perfectly with Jay Feaster's refusal to rebuild mentality.

8) Drew Doughty - Los Angeles Kings

Doughty had an off year for his standards, but his tremendous skills suggest he can't be held down for long. His 36 points were the lowest since his rookie campaign, but on the plus side he did manage career highs in both PIM and shots on goal. With contract and off ice issues hopefully behind him, look for the smooth skating Kings D man and Stanley Cup champion to rebound in 2012-13.

7) Duncan Keith - Chicago Blackhawks

Keith may never equal his phenomenal 2009-10 season where he put up a whopping 69 points, but that doesn't mean he still isn't one of the NHL's elite blueliners. The sheer amount of minutes he plays makes him valuable to have around. He tied for the league lead last year with an average ice-time of 26:53 per game. Just by being out there that regularly should let you know he has a chance to produce solid numbers. When healthy, look for Keith to exceed 40 points while also consistently putting up decent power play numbers.

6) Keith Yandle - Phoenix Coyotes

After last week's announcement that the city of Glendale has passed a lease deal for Greg Jamison to buy the Coyotes, it seems we can finally put the ongoing Phoenix saga behind us. Now we can talk about more exciting things like....... the lockout.

Yandle certainly will be happy with some stability in the Desert though, even if he couldn't match his 59 point campaign from 2010-11 last season. The more concerning thing would be his drop in power play points which fell by over 50% last year. Having said all that, Yandle usually hovers around the 200 shot mark and hitting 45-50 points shouldn't be a problem.

5) Ryan Suter - Minnesota Wild

Remember during the summer when the owners told everyone we were headed for a lockout because teams weren't making enough money, and then the Wild signed Suter and Zach Parise for nearly $100M a piece. Times are tough.

Suter and Shea Weber were a dynamic duo in Nashville, but it remains to be seen how venturing out on his own will affect him. Suter ranked third last year in the NHL in average ice-time per game, and expect that to continue as he will certainly earn a ton of minutes on the Wild's blueline. In 2011-12 he led Western Conference defensemen with 25 points on the power play and 22 of those were assists. If Dany Heatley has anything left, maybe the two of them can form a connection with the man advantage.

4) Dan Boyle - San Jose Sharks

Boyle has been a model of consistency during his four years in San Jose, and has averaged 53 points a season during that span. At 36 years of age, he has yet to show any signs of slowing down. Nobody fired more pucks at the net in 2011-12 among Western Conference defensemen than the career-high 252 he put up. As long as Boyle keeps up that pace you can continue to expect quality production from him.

3) Alexander Edler - Vancouver Canucks

Let's hope this Canucks squad doesn't go down as one of the best to never win the Stanley Cup. Edler is one solid piece of this talented group who has captured the last two Presidents Trophies. In 2011-12 Edler broke out with 49 points, 23 of which came on the power play, 143 hits, 145 blocks, and 228 shots. If he keeps that up, Edler may get some Norris Trophy consideration sooner rather than later.

2) Shea Weber - Nashville Predators

Weber led Western Conference defensemen last year in goals with 19, and thanks to his cannon of a point shot he has averaged 18 over his past four seasons. That's pretty impressive for a blueliner. The heart and soul of the Predators also ranked second among D Men in the West with 230 shots, and added 177 hits. There are not too many areas he can't help you in, and with the departure of Suter, Nashville is going to rely on him even more.

1) Alex Pietrangelo - St. Louis Blues

The scary thing about Pietrangelo is he is just 22 and still learning the NHL game. In only his second full season with the Blues in 2011-12 he led the conference in scoring among defensemen with 51 points. He also tallied 24 points with the man advantage and six game winning goals. What's most impressive about Pietrangelo is he was at his best in the second half of the season last year, when many young players start to slow down. He recorded 40 of his points after January 1st. Expect Pietrangelo to be the cornerstone of the Blues for years to come.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @amato_mike

 

Other columns

 

Top 20 Western Conference Fantasy Defensemen - Part 1 of 2

Top 20 Eastern Conference Fantasy Defensemen - Part 1 of 2

Top 20 Eastern Conference Fantasy Defensemen - Part 2 of 2

 


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Comments (9)add comment

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... Edler is way too high. Suter is also a bit overhyped now after being the class of 2012 free agency. Is there honestly anyone who would pick either of them over Doughty, Keith, Yandle or even Ekman-Larsson (who is clearly only just scratching the surface of what he can do)? If they are out there, I hope they are in my league. Wideman does not belong in the top 20, let alone the top 10.
December 14, 2012
Votes: +0

pts9889 said:

Daydream Nation
Correction "Let's hope this Canucks squad never wins the Stanley Cup." Fixed
December 11, 2012
Votes: +0

Le Jule said:

Le Jule
E Johnson not a top 20 ? nice read. What about E. Johnson ? Corner stone of Colorado ...
December 11, 2012
Votes: +0

shingy said:

shingy
D-List Thanks, good read.

Compiling d-lists are very subjective. Nobody is going to 100% agree on any one list, not gonna happen. Plus, d-value tends to shift from year to year. It's hard to find consistent numbers from the same elite D year in year out.

I like AP a lot, and at 22, he's golden, but his peripherals are not strong enough for the #1 spot. Gotta go to Weber. If he's not scoring, he's still adding major value in other cats, AP, not as much.

I still don't think Doughty's peripherals are strong enough, either. If his playoff performance carries over (no reason not to), he'll have a great year, but I'm still not sure he'll be more valuable than Edler in a roto league.

1.Weber 177 hits 140 blocks 230 shots 46 pims
2.Edler 143 hits 145 blocks 228 shots 34 pims
3.Doughty 124 hits 70 blocks 167 shots 69 pims
4.Pietrangelo 90 hits 133 blocks 202 shots 36 pims
5.Boyle 58 hits 137 blocks 252 shots 57 pims
December 11, 2012
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
A few shifts? I'd shift this list around quite a bit.
With defensemen, I think we need to focus on areas that might correct themselves.

As others have said, I'd move Doughty way up.
If we are talking multi-cat (SOG... possibly hits), then he's a stellar player to begin with. He had an off year with only 13 PPP and that is certain to bounce-back to 20+ PPP, especially with Jeff Carter on that PP for a full year. I'd pencil him for 25 PPP, which makes him a 48pt player, or more. I also think the Doughty-Johnson PP pairing lacked a lot of chemistry. It seemed strange that Doughty could put up 31 PPP with JJ putting up only 13 PPP (in 2009-2010) and then JJ puts up 28 and Doughty puts up 15 PPP (in 2010-2011). Something was wrong there. JJ was traded away in late-Feb... and Doughty put up his best point totals in... (wait for it)... March! Good news?

AP at #1 is incorrect, IMO. AP's an awesome real-NHL defender, but his lack of PIM hurts his value immensely. And, he's not necessarily going to put up better numbers. I know he had a spectacular run in calendar 2012, but I don't see it repeating. STL's PP isn't super-gifted and 24 PPP for AP might be a tall order to repeat. He averaged almost 25min/game and there's not much more room for added TOI, even if he is "young". I think the lack of PIM and the STL PP will peg him around #3 or #4 for coming seasons. I wouldn't draft him ahead of Weber or Doughty in fantasy pools.

1. Weber
2. Doughty
3. Pietrangelo
4. Edler
5. Boyle
6. Suter
7. Keith
8. Yandle
...
...
(gap)
December 11, 2012
Votes: +0

progie said:

progie
... I can't disagree more on this guys rankings. Did he pull them from a hat?
December 11, 2012
Votes: +0

RizzeeDizzee said:

RizzeeDizzee
... I agree on Doughty too - having him below #3 is a travesty. I also think Yandle, Boyle, Keith, and Wideman should be dropped down at least a few notches each - I'd actually take Shattenkirk (and maybe even Johnson) over any of them.
December 10, 2012
Votes: -1

Ron Burgundy said:

Ron Burgundy
Wide, man I looked at your 11-20 list again and I would take every guy on it before Wideman, if he was still in Washington. In Calgary I think we will be able to add another 20 names ahead of him. No big disagreements with any of the other guys but unless you are in a points-only league Wideman will be fantasy poison this year - and if you are in a points only league he will just be fantasy indigestion. My prediction is 34 points, minus 18 and 35 PIMs (pro-rated for 48 games or whatever the overlords deem to give us) as he and J-Bo combine for one of the softest pairings in hockey.
December 10, 2012
Votes: +1

frozenpools said:

frozenpools
Doughty Id take Doughty over any of these guys. AP Id think about but Doughty was the best player in the playoffs and has a 59 pt season under his bet. LA is due for a bounceback season offensively as shown in the playoffs and that should include Doughty.
December 10, 2012
Votes: +2
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