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Fantasy top 50 defenseman rankings for 2018-19

Carlson's value hinges on decision in free agency; Karlsson would benefit from trade; Dahlin should make immediate impact

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / NHL.com Fantasy Editor

NHL.com updates the top 50 fantasy defenseman landscape based on past production and expectations for next season in standard Yahoo leagues. Fantasy owners should use these updated rankings as a basis for team evaluation, keeper decisions and offseason draft research. These rankings will be updated throughout the offseason after the 2018 NHL Draft, free agency, trades, injury updates, prospect news, fantasy mock drafts and other developments.

 

FANTASY RANKINGS: Top 250  | 100 'F' | 25 'G'Keeper | Cheat sheet

 

With the offseason underway, here are five defensemen that can alter the fantasy landscape:

 

John Carlson, WSH -- The Washington Capitals defenseman led the position with 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 24 playoff games. His fantasy stock gained additional value with strong category coverage in power-play points (12; 1st among defensemen), shots on goal (80; 1st), plus/minus (plus-11; 2nd), blocks (42; 6th) and hits (36; T-12th). The 28-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and his fantasy value could take a hit if he leaves the Capitals, who had the second best power play (29.3 percent) in the playoffs. Carlson anchored the first unit with forwards Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.

Erik Karlsson, OTT -- The Ottawa Senators defenseman fell shy of his Yahoo preseason rank (17th) this season but still scored 62 points (nine goals, 53 assists) in 71 games to lead all NHL defensemen in points per game (0.87). Entering the final year of his contract (potential 2019 UFA), Karlsson could be traded and would gain significant fantasy value upon moving to a more dynamic offensive team. The Senators finished 25th in goals (219) and 27th on the power play (16.6 percent). The 28-year-old Swede should be viewed as a top five fantasy defenseman if he stays in Ottawa, but could return to the top of the rankings in the right situation.

Drew Doughty, LAK -- The Los Angeles Kings defenseman is coming off a career-high 60 points (10 goals, 50 assists) in 82 regular-season games and can become a UFA on July 1, 2019. Doughty had impressive category coverage this season despite second-line center Jeff Carter missing 55 games with a leg injury and the Kings finishing in the middle of the pack in goals (16th; 237) and power-play percentage (20.4; 17th). Doughty would gain fantasy value if Carter, who leads Los Angeles with 156 goals in 404 games since being acquired in 2011-12, can play a full season. The Kings have also been talking to unrestricted free agent forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who would give their power play and Doughty a significant boost.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI -- The Arizona Coyotes defenseman fell out of favor with fantasy owners early in the season with 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) and a minus-29 in the first 40 games. But he turned things around with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) and a plus-4 in the final 42 games. The 26-year-old Swede has scored at least 20 goals twice in his eight NHL seasons (23 in 2014-15; 21 in 2015-16) and could be poised for a bounce-back fantasy season after reportedly agreeing to aneight-year contract extension. Ekman-Larsson, who has the second-most goals (70) among defenseman behind Brent Burns (85) over the past four seasons, has stability behind him after goaltender Antti Raanta signed a three-year contract and in front of him with Calder Trophy finalist Clayton Keller.

Rasmus Dahlin -- The 18-year-old Swedish prospect will likely be the No. 1 pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2018 NHL Draft. Dahlin would be in position to make an immediate impact as an 18-year-old defenseman, similar to Doughty, Aaron Ekblad, Seth Jones, Cam Fowler and Victor Hedman in their rookie seasons. Each of the aforementioned defensemen had at least 20 points in his first NHL season, with Fowler (40 points in 2010-11) and Ekblad (39 in 2014-15) being fantasy relevant. He would take some pressure off Rasmus Ristolainen (26:30 per game; 4th in NHL), gain exposure to elite center Jack Eichel and has the skill set to eclipse 40 points if Buffalo's power play can revert closer to its NHL-best 24.5 percent in 2016-17. Dahlin should be viewed as a top 25 fantasy defenseman with an even higher ceiling.

 

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, injury history, age, sleeper, bounce-back or breakout potential, anticipated regression and contract status (pending unrestricted or restricted free agent). Prospects eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft (e.g. Rasmus Dahlin) have been excluded for now. ... In addition to players who could become unrestricted or restricted free agents July 1, any potential 2019 UFAs (*) and RFAs (**) are also noted below. ... INJ. indicates players who dealt with injuries at the end of the regular season and/or in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. ... Rob Reese's defenseman rankings may differ from Pete Jensen's order at the position in NHL.com's top 250 overall.

 

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

 

READ: Top 50 defenseman rankings April 2018

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