Fantasy Hockey: Defenseman Draft Levels 2021-22
Special for Yahoo Sports
Defenders tend to be eclipsed in Fantastic Drafts due to their lack of offensive output compared to the game’s elite forwards, but there is enormous value in having one of the top names listed below on your. lists.
Here’s a look at this year’s defenders, sorted by level.
LEVEL 1 – THE ELITE
Cale Makar, Victor Hedman, Adam Fox, John Carlson, Dougie Hamilton, Quinn Hughes, Tyson Barrie, Roman Josi, Shea Theodore
The Skinny: Make these guys a high priority on Draft Day.
Makar is the most talented rearguard in the game and arguably plays for the deepest team in the league. He finished second by voting for the Norris Trophy a year ago at the age of 22. He could flirt with 75 points throughout a full 82-game season. Hedman’s game was down a notch last season from what we’re used to, but the last time Hedman scored less than 45 points was in the 2014-15 campaign. Fox led all NHL full backs in assists (42) a season ago and was second in points (47). This performance saw him win his first Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in 2020-21. Carlson is Mr. Consistency, having posted no less than 44 points in each of the last five campaigns. Running a power play alongside Alex Ovechkin will lead to this type of production. Hamilton left Carolina for New Jersey last summer on a new seven-year, $ 63 million contract. The 28-year-old defenseman has scored double-digit goals in each of the past seven seasons and he poses a real threat to lead the league in goals for defensemen this season.
Hughes played all 56 games in Vancouver last year, scoring 41 points, including 19 with the power play. He also finished with an ugly minus-24 rating, which sounds like a fluke. Barrie is on a team with the game’s best player (Connor McDavid) and his trusted sidekick (Leon Draisaitl) and led all NHL full-backs in scoring (48 points in 56 games) in 2020-21 . The Predators lack offensive punch as a team, which allowed Josi to finish with 33 points in 48 games last year, his lowest total since the 2012-13 campaign. Expect a rebound effort from the Nashville captain in 2021-2022. Theodore should probably be higher on this list as the best offensive rearguard of a loaded Vegas team, but Alex Pietrangelo is always there to steal minutes which limits Theodore’s advantage.
LEVEL 2 – ROCK-SOLID OPTIONS
Kris Letang, Morgan Rielly, Jakob Chychrun, Torey Krug, John Klingberg, Seth Jones, Aaron Ekblad, Thomas Chabot, Zach Werenski, Jeff Petry, Alex Pietrangelo, Neal Pionk
The Skinny: Guys with a real chance to produce like fantastic # 1 defenders.
Letang and Rielly are in similar situations, as they are both veteran power-play quarterbacks on teams full of offensive talent. The two blueliners, Letang in particular, are extremely consistent. Chychrun looks like one of the next big backs in the game after a stellar season in which he led all defenders with 18 goals, but the Coyotes are a bad team and Shayne Gostisbehere could eat up the power play time. of Chychrun after being acquired by the Coyotes from the Flyers via trade. Krug finished his first season in St. Louis with 32 points, 111 shots and a plus-11 rating in 52 games. Expect similar production for a full campaign in 2021-22. Klingberg scored at least 36 points in six of his first seven seasons in the NHL. He continues to produce despite the continued presence of Miro Heiskanen. By the way, Klingberg is also a seasonal business candidate.
Jones’ stock fell apart a season ago (28 points, minus-18 odds in 56 games), but the Blackhawks nonetheless decided to acquire him via trade and gave Jones a contract extension. $ 76 million over eight years. He will lead the show for a team consisting of Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews, now presumably in good health. Ekblad argued for the next level before he broke his leg at the end of March. He’s had surgery and should be ready for training camp. This could be your last chance to get the Panthers’ top defenseman at any kind of draft discount. Chabot registers a ton of minutes which can lead to some serious fantasy production, but like Chychrun his cap is somewhat capped as he will likely play for one of the worst teams in the NHL.
With Jones traded, the Blue Jackets moved all-in on Werenski to the tune of a new six-year, $ 57.5 million contract. That’s a ton of money for a guy who’s never scored more than 44 points in a single season, but Werenski shoots a ton of puck and he should register about 25 minutes of ice time per night. Petry’s outlook has been bolstered by Shea Weber’s expected retirement due to injury. Petry offers production at all levels and he has legitimately improved every year since arriving in Montreal.
I mentioned Pietrangelo above. He’s still a lot of value to the Golden Knights, but he thinks he’ll play second fiddle to Theodore on the power play and that’s a big deal in the world of fantasy hockey. Pionk has been a revelation since arriving in Winnipeg two years ago. He has 77 points in 125 games over that span and is expected to post well over 200 hits for a full 82-game campaign in 2021-22.
LEVEL 3 – THE NEXT BEST THING
Brent Burns, Devon Toews, Charlie McAvoy, Miro Heiskanen, Mikhail Sergachev, Darnell Nurse, Drew Doughty, Tony DeAngelo
The Skinny: Safe options from start to finish.
Burns was the first option on this list for several years, but he’ll turn 37 next March and play for a bad team. It’s always a good selection, just don’t write for a past production. Toews joined Colorado from the Islanders a season ago and has nine goals, 31 points and a plus-29 rating in 53 games. It is a valuable choice in all formats. McAvoy is Boston’s best defenseman by a mile, but the Bruins seem determined to give Matt Grzelcyk and Mike Reilly time on the power play, limiting his overall worth. Heiskanen, as mentioned above, still has Klingberg to face. Sergachev is behind Hedman on the Lightning depth chart, but Hedman has been assaulted lately and Sergachev has been excellent since arriving on the scene several years ago.
Nurse gets a bump to play with McDavid and Draisaitl, but he’s extremely talented in his own right. Doughty’s fantastic value is directly linked to the long minutes he records. The Rangers cut ties with DeAngelo last season, intentionally making their team worse in the process. He was later bought by New York and joined the Hurricanes as a free agent this offseason. DeAngelo is the ultimate risk / reward choice.
LEVEL 4 – COMPLETE YOUR LIST
Ryan Pulock, Ryan Ellis, Erik Karlsson, Matt Dumba, Rasmus Dahlin, Jared Spurgeon, Josh Morrissey, Samuel Girard
The Skinny: Players who could possibly start for your team.
Pulock and Ellis are rebound candidates for different reasons. Pulock had some bad luck with the puck last season while Ellis was injured and has since been traded to Philadelphia. Karlsson is a shell of himself and plays for a bad team. Ryan Suter is gone, but Dumba and Spurgeon will split the time, limiting each other’s worth. Morrissey has been appalling since receiving a big money contract, but the Jets will continue to chase him with heavy minutes. Girard has to deal with Makar and Toews, leaving him with a fantastic stable floor and questionable ceiling.
LEVEL 5 – THE YOUNG AND OLD
Shayne Gostisbehere, Keith Yandle, Filip Hronek, Ty Smith, Nick Leddy, Justin Faulk, Adam Boqvist. Nils Lundkvist
The Skinny: Young and old alike with obstacles in front of them.
Gostisbehere and Yandle are offensive backs in new teams, but they both have potential. Hronek and Smith both play for bad teams, and Smith now has to deal with Dougie Hamilton. Leddy joins Hronek on a poor Red Wings team, dramatically increasing the opportunities for the former Islander. Faulk is a regular contributor for St. Louis with limited upside potential. Boqvist will try to help replace some of Seth Jones’ production in Columbus. Lundkvist, a Swedish rookie, looks likely to play a sheltered role when he arrives with Rangers, but he immediately has potential in the top six.