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Fantasy top 60 defensemen: Thankful for Burns, Faulk

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey contributor Brian Metzer provides in-depth defenseman analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer is your go-to guy for fantasy D-men advice all season long.


Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in Canada and the United States as a day of being grateful for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. We in the United States will celebrate this holiday on Thursday, but today the NHL's defensemen join me as we come together for our third annual defensive fantasy feast.

You are all probably used to attending gatherings that feature things like turkey, potatoes and roasted vegetables, as well as plenty of scrumptious desserts. Sadly, you'll have to wait until tomorrow for all of that, but the defensemen and I have tons of goals, assists and shots on goal, as well as secondary delights such as blocked shots and hits, to fill whet your fantasy palette!

The main course in this feast always comes in the form of goals, and since even the most lethal offensive defensemen tend to top out around 20, they are very valuable. This year Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks) and Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes) were nice enough to arrive at our feast with eight goals apiece. Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets) and Shea Weber (Nashville Predators) brought six each, and Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) and Colton Parayko (St. Louis Blues) brought us five.

Assists are plenty on the blue line, but some defensemen were nice enough to provide more than others. John Klingberg (Dallas Stars) leads the pack with 20 and fantasy owners don't need a special day to be thankful for that. P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens) showed up at our festivities with a combined 33 assists, and they brought Karlsson who has 18 of his own. I wasn't sure that Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild) was even going to be able to show up at our feast this year, but he surprised by arriving with 16 assists in the first quarter!

Shots on goal might not be a staple in all leagues, but we do like them in Yahoo Standard settings. Thankfully our generous bearded blueliner Burns brought us 94 to lead the pack. That's a full 21 more than Faulk's 73, and 22 more than Byfuglien's 72. Torey Krug (Boston Bruins) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona Coyotes) tugged at my apron as they handed over a combined 123 shots.

Not to be outdone by the other multi-category providers, Byfuglien added 42 penalty minutes, saying that no meal is complete without a few minutes away from the group to collect one's thoughts. Kevin Bieksa and Clayton Stoner (Anaheim Ducks) agreed, arriving with their combined 71 minutes.

Kevin Shattenkirk (Blues) was a little late in arriving, but we know he'll have tons on good stuff for us moving forward. In the meantime, his teammate Parayko unexpectedly arrived with a little bit of everything, including three game-winning goals!

What a nice young man!

As with all of our feasts, this one wouldn't be complete without complementary dishes, some of which aren't applicable to everyone. But they are just as delicious!

John Klingberg
John Klingberg
Defense - DAL
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 24
SOG: 42 | +/-: 11
Klingberg was nice enough to bring his plus-11 rating to the table and the Rangers' trio of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein showed up with a combined plus-40 rating.

Klingberg's defensive partner Alex Goligoski is also here and has his plus-8 with him.

Last up, dessert, and it comes in the form of hits and blocks. Some leagues pass on these, like some of us hope to pass on dessert this week. Who am I kidding, they're must-haves, especially in leagues that count them.

Radko Gudas (Philadelphia Flyers) brought 101 hits to the table, Byfuglien has 67 and Johnny Boychuk (New York Islanders) brought 55. As for the blocked shots, our friend Kris Russel (Calgary Flames), who had a 15-block game last season, already stepped in front of 72 shots this season. Francois Beauchemin (Colorado Avalanche) brought 63, Roman Josi (Predators) has 58, and Boychuk and Klein have 48 each.

All of this makes for one of the best defensive fantasy feasts we've ever had. These gatherings just get better by the year. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

TRENDING UP

Paul Martin, San Jose Sharks

Martin has been a great fit since arriving in San Jose via free agency this summer. He must be feeling a bit more comfortable because he is starting to show off the offensive side of his game, something that didn't happen a ton early in the season. After picking up two points over his first 12 games, he has one goal and four assists over his past six. He is paired with Burns, which keeps him in more of a safety-net role, but he has some sneaky value that is bolstered by a plus-6 rating, 18 hits and 26 blocked shots. He is owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues and could be a nice fill-in for any team that needs some blue line support.

Dougie Hamilton
Dougie Hamilton
Defense - CGY
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 5
SOG: 43 | +/-: -4
TRENDING DOWN

Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames

This could be any of a handful of Flames defenseman, as Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano and Hamilton have all struggled. Hamilton has one point over his past six games and five on the season, a far cry from what we all expected. He is carrying a minus-5 rating, but we should be encouraged he's had a plus-4 rating over his past four games. He's got a lot of work to do to get back to being a daily play in standard leagues though. I'd look to buy-low on him in dynasty formats, but would consider cutting bait in year-to-year leagues.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Brett Pesce, Carolina Hurricanes

Defensemen are getting bigger by the day and Pesce is the latest big body to hit the scene. He clocks in at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and that frame combined with decent feet and offensive upside made him the 66th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. He recently made his NHL debut and has appeared in 14 games for the Hurricanes. He skates on the second pairing with Ron Hainsey and is getting time on the second power-play unit as part of his 17:48 minutes per night. The offense has taken time, but he has put together a couple solid outings, scoring his first NHL goal and three total points over his past two games. For the season he now has two goals, two assists, four PIMs, 22 shots on goal and has chipped in 10 hits and 18 blocked shots. He is available in all Yahoo Leagues, so keep an eye on him.


TOP 60 FANTASY DEFENSEMEN

These rankings are based on expectations for this season. Value is quantified by defense pairings, power-play usage, past performance and overall upside in standard Yahoo categories (goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal).

1 Erik Karlsson, OTT (SAME) 31 Cody Franson, BUF (-1)
2 John Klingberg, DAL (SAME) 32 Aaron Ekblad, FLA (+4)
3 P.K. Subban, MTL (SAME) 33 Erik Johnson, COL (-2)
4 Andrei Markov, MTL (SAME) 34 Francois Beauchemin, COL (+3)
5 Brent Burns, SJS (SAME) 35 Morgan Rielly, TOR (+3)
6 Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (+5) 36 Dion Phaneuf, TOR (-2)
7 Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (+1) 37 Niklas Kronwall, DET (-2)
8 Victor Hedman, TBL (-2) 38 Dougie Hamilton, CGY (-6)
9 Roman Josi, NSH (-2) 39 Mike Green, DET (SAME)
10 Justin Faulk, CAR (+3) 40 Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (+2)
11 John Carlson, WSH (-2) 41 Cam Fowler, ANA (+2)
12 Ryan Suter, MIN (+5) 42 Jason Demers, DAL (-2)
13 Duncan Keith, CHI (-3) 43 Andrej Sekera, EDM (-2)
14 Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (-2) 44 Matt Niskanen, WSH (+4)
15 Tyson Barrie, COL (+1) 45 Colton Parayko, STL (+2)
16 Shea Weber, NSH (-2) 46 Marek Zidlicky, NYI (-2)
17 Drew Doughty, LAK (-2) 47 Nick Leddy, NYI (-2)
18 Kris Letang, PIT (+2) 48 Alex Goligoski, DAL (+1)
19 Alex Pietrangelo, STL (-1) 49 Zdeno Chara, BOS (+2)
20 Keith Yandle, NYR (-1) 50 Alexander Edler, VAN (+6)
21 Brent Seabrook, CHI (+1) 51 Seth Jones, NSH (-1)
22 Torey Krug, BOS (-1) 52 Alec Martinez, LAK (NEW)
23 Ryan McDonagh, NYR (+1) 53 Jared Spurgeon, MIN (SAME)
24 Johnny Boychuk, NYI (+1) 54 Ryan Ellis, NSH (SAME)
25 TJ Brodie, CGY (+1) 55 David Savard, CBJ (SAME)
26 Mark Giordano, CGY (-3) 56 Oscar Klefbom, EDM (+1)
27 Sami Vatanen, ANA (+2) 57 Ben Hutton, VAN (-5)
28 Jake Muzzin, LAK (+5) 58 Trevor Daley, DAL (NEW)
29 Anton Stralman, TBL (-1) 59 Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (+1)
30 Dennis Wideman, CGY (-3) 60 Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (NEW)

Dropped out: Hampus Lindholm, Brian Campbell

Key injuries: Mark Streit, Olli Maatta, James Wisniewski, Kyle Quincey

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