“The D will set you free!” Hey thanks Vic the Brick! Do you have anything else to add or is that pretty much the range of your analytic abilities? “You must play like your hair is on fire!” Yeah that might be a problem on the ice. “You are like the bamboo, you bend but…” Okay shutup now you’ve already proven you have zero sports knowledge. Pretty amazing considering that’s your job… Anywho, it’s time for me to bring the mad def energy and hit you with some actual analysis. You’ve heard me rail against the importance of drafting defenseman early in the draft, so don’t do it. That said you need 4 of them in most leagues so knowing who they are is still important. We will start on #3, because only Keith Yandle (#23) and Kris Letang (#30) cracked my Top 30. And since there are typically 4 spots for Defenseman on a roster, this will be more than a 1 shot deal. I’ll get to as many as I can tonight, all depends on how drunk I may or may not be when I get home from Dodger stadium, assuming of course I make it home in 1 piece.
3) Dustin Byfuglien – D (Wpg): My theory is that he actually used to pronounce his name like it’s spelled (Bi-foog-len) but someone made fun of him when he was a kid so Dustin buried him in the ground and forced everyone else to pronounce it Buff-lin. What I don’t have a theory on is why he fell off a cliff in the 2nd half (just 4 goals in the last 40 games). The good news though is that his shots and PIM’s actually increased in that same time, so there is still a ton to like here.
4) Nicklas Lidstrom – D (Det): Seriously dude it’s getting old now. Another 60 point season at the ripe old age of 40? Stop it! I’ve been avoiding you in drafts for 3 years now assuming you’ll fall off a cliff! But alas here you are another Top 5 Defenseman pre-draft. But lookie here, you were a -2 for the first time in your career last season! HA! THIS is the year it all falls apart!
5) Lubomir Visnovsky – D (Ana): Lubomir sounds like a made for TV product: “Use it on door hinges, window sills, creaky wheels… Even use it on your car! Call in the next 10 minutes and receive a free case to give away as a gift!” Okay okay I’m done. I didn’t buy into Visnovsky prior to last year, I pretty much wrote off the great finish he had with the Ducks after they traded for him in 2010… Not smart. Luby went nuts and lead all Defenseman in scoring, including 31 Power Play Points and a +18. The shot totals weren’t great, but with that kind of production on the score sheet it doesn’t matter. I’m not gonna end up with him on any of my teams (because of his ADP), but I do think he can sustain something close to that level again this season.
6) Shea Weber – D (Nsh): Of the defenseman Shea Weber was my toughest to rank. If you watch him play, you can tell he’s probably the best defenseman in the NHL. But at the end of the year you look at the stat sheet and you see he really only dominates 1 stat – Shots on Goal. Now I’m sure one of these years all those shots will lead to some lucky bounces and he’ll end up scoring 25 Goals, but who knows when that will be? What I do know is that he won’t be getting many assists cuz his team doesn’t score thanks to the *Trotz. Perfect example of a better real life player than fantasy player.
7) Zdeno Chara – D (Bos): So since he’s 6’9″ I feel like I’m obligated to come up with a nickname for him with “Big” in front of it.. Hmm, Big Z? No too crazy. The Big Leprechaun? No Shaq might cry foul. Big Pappa Bear? No this ain’t working. Bottom line is Chara is the most consistent fantasy hockey player you’ll ever find. Since the start of the ’02-’03 season he has scored between 39 and 51 points with a TON of PPP’s, Shots and Penalty Minutes. He’s dropped a little in Penalty minutes in the last couple seasons, but he’s made up for it with an increase in his SOG total. This is a ‘set it and forget it’ guy if there ever was one.
8) Drew Doughty – D (LA): So I have to come clean about something.. A big reason why I’m so anti-Defenseman early in drafts is because I took Drew Doughty with the 13th overall pick last season. I figured he’d only get better and build on his excellent ’09-’10 campaign, when he had 59 Points, +20 and 31(!) Power Play Points. But instead I had to learn my lesson the hard way. Defenseman are not capable of carrying your fantasy team and Drew Doughty is another example of this, so draft them accordingly!
9) Alex Goligoski – D (Dal): I have to be honest I had a big crush on this guy last season after his trade to Dallas, and it hasn’t gone away. Once upon a time Goligoski was the sure-fire successor to the Gonchar throne in Pittsburgh. He was going to be the Pit defenseman of the future. Then Letang stepped in and said, uh no, thats me. I’m not happy about Brad Richards leaving town, but I think there is still enough offense (Eriksson, Ribiero, Morrow, Benn) in Big D to soften the blow of Richards’ loss. And as an added bonus, Goligoski could take over as the top Power Play Quarterback.
10) Mike Green – D (Wsh): If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Mike Green was a monster in ’09 and ’10. He had 149 points in 143 games, 73(!) of which were Power Play Points. He had 448 Shots. His plus/minus was +63. It’s the kind of numbers that would get you drueling if he was a Center, let alone a Defenseman. But those two seasons are the exception to the rule that any 1 Defenseman cannot carry your fantasy team. Last year he was an also-ran, a bum, a Schmohawk. But the talent is still there (I think). A bounce-back is likely, but nothing close to what he did 2 and 3 years ago.
11) Chris Pronger – D (Phi): Had to get Pronger into this 1st group. I easily could’ve put him much lower coming off the worst season of his career, but this is Chris Pronger we’re talking about here. The potential for a healthy 70+ game season is not totally crazy. And if he does that he’ll easily be able to hold down a #1 Defenseman spot for your team. 37 is old for any athlete, but Pronger is not just any athlete. He’s one of the all-time greats and much like Nicky Lidstrom he’s capable of being one of the best in the NHL into his late 30’s..
Alright thats it for now, tomorrow more D-Men or maybe some sleepers, not sure yet (oh the anticipation!)… Now its time to hit the hay my head is whoozy…