With the 2014-15 NHL season inching closer by the day, NHL.com has you covered with positional fantasy rankings. Based on Yahoo eligibility, projected lineups, past performance, injury history and each insider's opinion, Matt Cubeta (centers), Matt Sitkoff (left wings), Pete Jensen (right wings), Brian Metzer (defensemen) and Justin Goldman (goalies) bring you up to speed by identifying all the players worth targeting at each position in your upcoming drafts.
By nature, defensemen are designed to prevent teams from scoring goals, but a subsect of the gene pool has seen their DNA evolve. This group is just as adept at rolling up offense as it is in preventing it.
One of the evolved, Alec Martinez, scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Los Angeles Kings less than three months ago. The good news is that it's time to regroup and reload for another trip up the mountain towards fantasy glory. That trip gets a lot easier when properly utilizing a defenseman and this should help you gain a better understanding of who you should target.
In putting together these pre-season rankings, we looked back at goals, assists, points, power-play points, plus-minus and shots on goal over a three-season span to better assess who is on the rise and who is on the decline.
The results were interesting in that no defenseman finished in the top 10 in all six standard scoring categories; however four of them, Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators), Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets), P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens), and Keith Yandle (Arizona Coyotes) finished in the top 10 of five of them.
Of those four, Subban and Karlsson slot one and two in our rankings and should be among the first defensemen selected in your league. Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators ranked in only four of the categories, but his team improved offensively, which helped him edge Byfuglien for the No. 3 spot. But do not forget that the latter will qualify as both a defenseman and a right wing in Yahoo Standard leagues.