2008-09 NHL Draft Kit: Defenseman Rankings
And the 2008-09 RotoRob NHL Draft Kit just keeps rolling, as today Steven checks in with his comprehensive list of the top 25 fantasy blueliners.
1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings: Sure, he’s playing with a Stanley Cup hangover. Sure he’s 38 years old. But there’s simply no other defenseman in the league who puts up numbers like Lidstrom. It’s almost like his Detroit teammates think the goal won’t count unless Lidstrom’s stick touches the puck before they shoot.
2. Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames: The Calgary blueliner has consistently put up solid numbers since his rookie year and he’s worth taking high if for no other reason than that. But there’s also the feeling that Phaneuf has yet to reach his full potential and is about to have a truly explosive season. His fourth NHL season could be that big one.
3. Mike Green, Washington Capitals: If you yearn for true anonymity, play on an NHL team with Alexander Ovechkin. No one will give you a second look. Green is coming off a tremendous season where he managed to put up 56 points as he seemingly discovered his inner Lidstrom. Green is young and improving and plays on a team with one of the NHL’s most exciting players.
4. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins: During Boston’s surprise run to the Stanley Cup playoffs and near upset of Montreal in the first round, no one really talked about Chara having the best offensive season of his career. While Boston didn’t do much to get better during the offseason, there’s no reason to think Chara’s numbers will wane.
5. Chris Pronger, Anaheim Ducks: Pronger put up 43 points for the Ducks last season and that’s an off-year for him. He may be a lot of things, but the guy puts up numbers. Just watch your knees around him.
6. Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh Penguins: Since Gonchar entered the NHL in the 1990s, he’s done nothing but look for the offensive play. He’s thriving in the Pittsburgh system which puts a premium on defensemen either dishing or shooting the puck from the point.
7. Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks: If there were fantasy points for a strange year, Boyle would probably lead all players. A freak injury forced him to miss much of last season. During the offseason, he was suddenly traded after signing a long-term deal in Tampa. Boyle is horrible defensively, but he’s an offensive machine. He’s going to kill you with his +/- (mostly -), but at the end of the season, you’ll be glad you kept him.
8. Brian Rafalski, Detroit Red Wings: The smooth-skating American doesn’t get enough respect, but he’s fit into Detroit’s system perfectly.
9. Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks: One of Chicago’s big free-agent signings, Campbell should continue to be a point machine, even playing on a very young team.
10. Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens: Perhaps it’s not fair to say that any reasonably offensive defenseman will thrive in Montreal’s system, but it sure seems that way. Markov should contribute to benefit from his time on the powerplay.
11. Wade Redden, New York Rangers: He’s coming off a disappointing season, even though he finished with more points than the year before. He’s going to a team (the Rangers) that doesn’t seem to have any snipers. People are calling him a human bomb. Don’t believe the lack of hype. Redden is a solid defenseman going to a team that gives it pointmen more than enough opportunities to score.
12. Dennis Wideman, Boston Bruins: He’s coming off a career season that saw him accumulate 13 goals (nine on the powerplay) and 23 assists. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit 50 points next season.
13. Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix Coyotes: Admittedly, I have a bit of a soft spot for Jovanovski from his Vancouver days when his breakout passes often spurred the relentless Canuck attack. Those days are long gone, but even playing on some awful Phoenix teams, he’s managed to consistently maintain his offensive game.
14. Lubomir Visnovsky, Edmonton Oilers: Visnovsky’s hardly a household name, but if he’s as productive in Edmonton as he was in LA, he should be a nice addition to your roster.
15. Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers: Bouwmeester is a fantastic defenseman trapped on a horrible team. He puts up points, but not as many as he should. He’s worth taking, though, because (a) he’s playing for a free-agent contract next season; and (b) he might get traded out of Florida to a good team. Both factors make him worth considering.
16. Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks: Sure, he messed up a lot of people’s fantasy rosters last season by waiting so long to unretire, but you have to love how refreshed he looked when he finally came back. Niedermayer will be back in Anaheim this season, so there’s no drama — just points.
17. Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild: He’s now playing in Minnesota where no one scores. Either he’ll fill the chasm or his offensive game will wither. Since the Wild are trying to get Marian Gaborik to stay, I’m betting we’ll see a slightly more open game for Zidlicky to jump into.
18. Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs: A lot of fantasy experts tell you to avoid any Maple Leaf at all costs, but if you have space for a defenseman and Kaberle is still around, I think there’s a high probability of another strong season from him.
19. Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers: His numbers dipped a bit after joining the Flyers, but they should rebound next season as the Flyers reworked their defense to be much quicker and more mobile.
20. Mark Streit, New York Islanders: His 62-point campaign last season is viewed more as a fluke than anything else, and while I don’t think he’ll put up numbers like that for the Islanders, he should rack up a decent amount of points, especially given that New York has no powerplay quarterback.
21. Brent Burns Minnesota Wild: His 15 goals for the Wild are like scoring 30 for another team.
22. Michal Rozsival, New York Rangers: Last season saw Rozsival discover the joys of shooting the puck, rather than passing to Jaromir Jagr. This year, dishing to Jagr isn’t even an option.
23. Mathieu Schneider, Anaheim Ducks: He’s a top two defenseman on a team where he’s ostensibly the third (or even fourth) d-man. Once Anaheim trades him, his numbers should improve.
24. Joe Corvo, Carolina Hurricanes: His 48 points last season is tough to ignore.
25. John-Michael Liles, Colorado Avalanche: Thirty-two points last season isn’t bad, but I think this is the year he gets comfortable taking more offensive risks.
Others to Consider
Adrian Aucoin, Calgary Flames
Ryan Whitney, Pittsburgh Penguins
Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta Thrashers