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Fantasy top 50 defenseman rankings for 2017-18

NHL.com lists most valuable standard-league assets for rest of season

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com Fantasy Correspondent

Each week during the regular season, NHL.com has you covered with an overview of the fantasy defenseman landscape. With production trends, injury news and top 50 rankings based on performance and upside in standard Yahoo leagues, fantasy owners should use this information as a basis for roster decision-making.

 

MORE FANTASY RANKINGS: Top 100 forwards | Top 25 goalies

 

TRENDING UP

Mattias Ekholm, NSH (58 percent owned): It's easy to overlook Ekholm on a Nashville Predators roster loaded with offensive defensemen, but he has risen in the rankings in recent weeks. Ekholm scored a goal in four straight games and was plus-6 with three power-play points in the span prior to going pointless in a 3-2 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. He has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his past 11 games skating on the top pair with Roman Josi, and is averaging 24:52 per game (2:43 on power play). It's worth noting that he is averaging 0.62 points and 1.6 shots per game, which would each be an NHL career high. The Predators have only had center Kyle Turris for six games since the trade, but his impact has had a ripple effect on their entire lineup; they have risen to 11th in goals per game (3.14) and third in power-play percentage (25.3).

Will Butcher, NJD (64 percent owned): His emergence for the New Jersey Devils has been no secret since his three-assist debut Oct. 7, but there are some recent signs that could point to even bigger breakout for the rookie. He scored his first two NHL goals this past week, a direct result of an uptick in shots on goal; after 15 SOG over his first 17 games, he has eight SOG over his past four. He's playing on the third pair with Ben Lovejoy but getting 3:12 per game on the power play. For fantasy purposes, Butcher's high percentage of power-play points (eight of 16; T-7th among defensemen) and plus-6 rating has him ranked 22nd at the position in Yahoo.

Erik Johnson, COL (14 percent owned): Johnson started the season with no goals and one assist in his first 10 games for the Colorado Avalanche, but did have 27 SOG over that span, a sign he could eventually break through. He has eight points (two goals, six assists), two PPP, 31 SOG and is plus-5 over his past nine games. Johnson is skating on the Avalanche's top pair with newcomer Samuel Girard, averaging 26:32 per game (fifth in NHL), including 2:31 on the power play. The Avalanche rank sixth in goals-per game (3.40) and are scoring on 18.8 percent of their power-play opportunities, which makes Johnson a solid fantasy option moving forward.

Video: NJD@MIN: Butcher roofs a rocket from the circle

 

TRENDING DOWN

Seth Jones, CBJ: The Columbus Blue Jackets have scored 11 goals in their past seven games, but have won five straight thanks to solid defense and goaltending. That said, they have struggled on the power play over their past nine games (1-for-21), leading to a dip in production for Jones; he has no points over his past seven games and has four points (one goal, three assists) over his past 12 games. The silver lining is he has 37 SOG during the drought, which could soon translate into more production, especially if the Columbus power play heats up. Jones is averaging 2:10 per game with the man-advantage and is paired with Zach Werenski at even strength.

Brent Burns, SJS: Although he was in this section a week ago, Burns still does not have a goal -- very concerning to those who invested a first round draft pick on the defenseman who scored 151 points over the past two seasons with at least 27 goals in each. Burns has one assist in nine games this month, even though he has 33 SOG. Of his eight assists this season, only four have been primary. His high SOG total (84; 6th in NHL) points to an eventual breakout, but no one could have expected this as the Sharks hit the one-quarter mark of their season. He's a great buy-low option via trade, but his fantasy owners' patience is wearing thin.

Hampus Lindholm, ANA (21 percent owned): After scoring four points (two goals, two assists) in his first six games, Lindholm has two points (one goal, one assist) in his past seven games. He also missed a game because of a lower-body injury and could see his fantasy value decline with top defenseman Cam Fowler back from injury. Fowler and Lindholm each assisted on center Derek Grant's power-play goal against the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday, but Fowler split time on the first unit with Lindholm or breakout defenseman Brandon Montour. Lindholm, who's averaging 23:52 per game, still has value in deeper leagues but is droppable if the right option is available on the waiver wire.

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TOP 50 DEFENSEMAN RANKINGS

Standard Yahoo categories include goals, assists, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP and SOG for skaters. ... Value has been quantified based on factors including but not limited to past production, defense pairs, power-play usage, team's offseason changes, injury history, age, sleeper, bounce-back or breakout potential, anticipated regression, contract status, Yahoo ADP and overall upside for the rest of the season. ... Any players with injury concerns (INJ.) are noted.

1. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (+2)
2. Victor Hedman, TBL (SAME)
3. Erik Karlsson, OTT (-2)
4. John Klingberg, DAL (SAME)
5. P.K. Subban, NSH (+3)
6. Roman Josi, NSH (+4)
7. Drew Doughty, LAK (+4)
8. John Carlson, WSH (+4)
9. Kevin Shattenkirk, NYR (-4)
10. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (-1)
11. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (-5)
12. Brent Burns, SJS (-5)
13. Kris Letang, PIT (+1)
14. Zach Werenski, CBJ (-1)
15. Duncan Keith, CHI (SAME)
16. Will Butcher, NJD (+2)
17. Nick Leddy, NYI (+13)
18. Mikhail Sergachev, TBL (-1)
19. Shea Weber, MTL (DTD)
20. Morgan Rielly, TOR (-1)
21. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (-1)
22. Mike Green, DET (+1)
23. Torey Krug, BOS (DTD)
24. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (-2)
25. Tyson Barrie, COL (-1)
26. Ryan Suter, MIN (-1)
27. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (+4)
28. Jake Muzzin, LAK (SAME)
29. Brandon Montour, ANA (+4)
30. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (DTD)
31. Seth Jones, CBJ (-5)
32. Justin Schultz, PIT (-5)
33. Keith Yandle, FLA (+1)
34. Mark Giordano, CGY (-2)
35. Ivan Provorov, PHI (SAME)
36. Charlie McAvoy, BOS (SAME)
37. TJ Brodie, CGY (SAME)
38. Colton Parayko, STL (+1)
39. Justin Faulk, CAR (+2)
40. Mattias Ekholm, NSH (+7)
41. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (+2)
42. Oscar Klefbom, EDM (-4)
43. Matt Niskanen, WSH (-3)
44. Cam Fowler, ANA (NEW - INJ.)
45. Erik Johnson, COL (+5)
46. Brent Seabrook, CHI (-2)
47. Jake Gardiner, TOR (-5)
48. Josh Manson, ANA (SAME)
49. Colin Miller, VGK (-3)
50. Jacob Trouba, WPG (-1)

Dropped out: Hampus Lindholm, ANA

Key injuries: Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF; Ryan Ellis, NSH; Andrej Sekera, EDM

 

READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings

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