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Fantasy defenseman top 50 rankings for 2018-19

Gostisbehere, Ristolainen rise after slow starts; Hedman back from injury; Ekblad sinking

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / Fantasy Editor's fantasy hockey defenseman top 50 rankings are based on past production and expectations for the rest of the season in standard Yahoo leagues. For more fantasy hockey coverage, visit


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Injury updates:

Victor Hedman, TBL -- The Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman had a power-play goal and three shots on goal against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. His return negatively impacts defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who had eight points (one goal, seven assists) in seven games on the first pair and top power-play unit in Hedman's absence.

Charlie McAvoy, BOS -- The Boston Bruins defenseman has resumed skating and could join the Bruins on their upcoming four-game road trip. McAvoy hasn't played since Oct. 18 because of a concussion; defenseman Matt Grzelcyk has been fantasy relevant with six points (one goal, five assists) in his past nine games. When McAvoy returns, he'll likely remain a borderline top 25 defenseman for the rest of the season (if healthy), and Grzelcyk will become droppable with Torey Krug now healthy and in the power-play mix.


Trending up: 

Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI -- Since Nov. 5, Gostisbehere ranks tied for fourth at the position with four points (two goals, two assists) in three games. He had five points (one goal, four assists) over the first 14 games of the season, causing concern for fantasy owners. The Flyers have won four of their past five games, making Gostisbehere an intriguing trade target in season-long leagues and worthy of spending up for in DFS contests. Gostisbehere also stands to benefit from the eventual return of left wing James van Riemsdyk (lower body). 

Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF -- The Buffalo Sabres defenseman has five points (one goal, four assists) in his past five games and is covering categories with 17 SOG and 14 hits over the span. Rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin has three points in the past four games and is plus-5. Ristolainen and Dahlin are worth trading for in season-long leagues with the Sabres in contention and having one of the best top lines in the NHL (Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart).

Video: BUF@MTL: Ristolainen rifles shot by Price in OT


Trending down:

Aaron Ekblad, FLA -- The Florida Panthers defenseman has no goals (on 32 SOG) and two assists through the first 14 games and could drop out of's rankings if his slow start continues. Entering Tuesday, the Panthers have won four of the past five games, and Ekblad has 12 SOG and is plus-3 over the span. If Florida's success continues, Ekblad could still hit double-digit goals for the fifth straight season.



Standard Yahoo categories include goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, shots on goal and now hits for skaters. ... Value has been quantified based on factors including but not limited to past production, defense pairs, power-play usage, injury history, sleeper, bounce-back or breakout potential, anticipated regression, age and contract status (potential 2019 UFA: *; RFA: **). DTD indicates players with day-to-day injury concerns.

1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME)
2. John Carlson, WSH (SAME)
3. Victor Hedman, TBL (SAME)
4. Seth Jones, CBJ (+2)
5. Morgan Rielly, TOR (SAME)
6. P.K. Subban, NSH (-1)
7. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (+1)
8. Torey Krug, BOS (+1)
9. Erik Karlsson, SJS* (-5)
10. Roman Josi, NSH (+1)
11. Kris Letang, PIT (-3)
12. Tyson Barrie, COL (+1)
13. Thomas Chabot, OTT (+2)
14. Drew Doughty, LAK (-2)
15. Mark Giordano, CGY (-1)
16. Keith Yandle, FLA (SAME)
17. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (+1)
18. Matt Dumba, MIN (-1)
19. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (+5)
20. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (+7)
21. Dougie Hamilton, CAR (-2)
22. Zach Werenski, CBJ** (-2)
23. Ryan Ellis, NSH (-1)
24. Ryan Suter, MIN (-3)
25. Jake Gardiner, TOR* (-2)
26. Charlie McAvoy, BOS** (NEW - INJ.)
27. Ivan Provorov, PHI** (-2)
28. Miro Heiskanen, DAL (+1)
29. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (+4)
30. Jeff Petry, MTL (-4)
31. Oscar Klefbom, EDM (-3)
32. Mattias Ekholm, NSH (SAME)
33. Neal Pionk, NYR** (+4)
34. Justin Faulk, CAR (-3)
35. Rasmus Dahlin, BUF (+3)
36. Erik Johnson, COL (-6)
37. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (+7)
38. Josh Manson, ANA (-4)
39. Will Butcher, NJD** (+2)
40. Shea Theodore, VGK (-4)
41. Mikhail Sergachev, TBL (+2)
42. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (-7)
43. Henri Jokiharju, CHI (-4)
44. Samuel Girard, COL (+6)
45. Mike Green, DET (+2)
46. Vince Dunn, STL (-5)
47. Brent Seabrook, CHI (SAME)
48. Cam Fowler, ANA (DTD)
49. Ryan McDonagh, TBL (SAME)
50. Erik Gudbranson, VAN (NEW)

Dropped out: Esa Lindell, DAL**; Duncan Keith, CHI

Just missed: Brandon Montour, ANA; Markus Nutivaara, CBJ; Ron Hainsey, TOR; Alec Martinez, LAK; Colin Miller, VGK

Key injuries: John Klingberg, DAL; Alexander Edler, VAN; Shea Weber, MTL; Justin Schultz, PIT


READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings


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