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Fantasy top 50 defenseman rankings for June 2018

Dahlin among top 15 for Sabres; Doughty gains value with Kovalchuk joining Kings, Carlson remains elite option after re-signing with Capitals

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 free agency, trades, injury and prospect news, fantasy mock drafts and other developments.

 

FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 overall | 100 forwards | Offseason injury report

2018 NHL Draft, trades roundup | Projection for Svechnikov | Hoffman trade

 

With the NHL draft over, here are five defensemen that can alter the fantasy landscape:

 

Rasmus Dahlin -- The 18-year-old Swedish prospect was the No. 1 pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2018 NHL Draft. Dahlin is in a position to make an immediate impact as an 18-year-old defenseman, similar to Drew 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.

Read: Fantasy projection for Dahlin in 2018-19

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 was re-signed to an eight-year contract June 24, and his fantasy value is at an all-time high with the Capitals, whose power play converted at 29.3 percent in the playoffs. Carlson anchored the first unit with forwards Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie and is a sure-fire top 10 fantasy defenseman for next season.

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 an NHL 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 signed veteran wing Ilya Kovalchuk, who gives their power play and Doughty a significant boost but could negatively impact Jake Muzzin if the defenseman is moved off the first power play.

Read: Fantasy projection for Kovalchuk in 2018-19

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 an eight-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.

 

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

 

***Injury update: Weber will miss an extended period of time because of knee surgery. His recovery period is expected to be 5-6 months.

 

READ: Top 50 defenseman rankings April 2018

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