I’ve already voiced my feelings about Defenseman, which means many of these lower-tier guys will be drafted by me. I like some more than others, but for the most part I wouldn’t have a problem with any of these D-men. I like to have a list of 10-15 guys who I think will be available in the middle rounds, and then draft them all shotgun style one round after the other. Odds are at least 1 will surprise and pull a Kris Letang, assuming you’ve done your homework. That homework is to read this column. And if your guy didn’t make the cut, well don’t worry I’m sure many of them will end up in future “Sleeper” posts. Now lets do this! Here are the Defenseman who could end up on my team this year:
12) Dan Boyle – D (SJ): I have to admit I’m not that high on Boyle this year (and it’s not just because his last name is gross) but I do put past production high on my ranking criteria. The last 3 seasons since joining the Sharks he’s averaged 13 Goals, 42 Assists, 29PPP’s and a million shots. And because of that he still makes the Top 12. But I have 2 legit concerns: Age (35) and the newly acquired Brent Burns, who’s offensive abilities were chronically under-used in Minnesota and who will take Power Play Minutes from the Boyle.
13) Alex Pietrangelo – D (Stl): Say his last name 3 times fast (pronounced Pee-tran-jill-0). Almost impossible. Something that would be impossible? This guy not ending up on at least 2 of my teams this year. I smell breakout.
14) Duncan Keith – D (Chi): I killed Drew Doughty for being such a high draft pick last year then doing nothing, but in reality Keith Duncan was worse. 7G, 38A, 22PPP and a minus 1. Sure the -1 was a disappointment but 7 Goals? Who are you Kimmo Timonen? For some perspective, Corey Perry had two 7-Goal weeks last year. Still I think he’ll rebound so if you can get him cheap enough he’ll be worth it.
15) Tomas Kaberle – D (Car): My first thought was that Kaberle is at least 35. It feels like he’s been around forever, but I guess thats just a product of being in Toronto his whole career. Tomas is only 33 and had a solid season last year. He’s on a new team now that may not be very good, but Toronto sucked every year he was there and he still produced. He won’t get you goals but he’s one of the better passing Defenseman in the NHL. 40 or more assists 5 of the last 6 seasons is proof of that.
16) James Wisniewski – D (CBJ): Wisniewski was a classic example of a guy who starts the season red hot (2Goals, 9 Assists first 7 games), gets alot of pub and then is overrated for the rest of the year. When he was on the Ducks he had a reputation as a partier off the ice and a drama queen on it(well at least according to me). I don’t think the move to Columbus will help, but at least he’ll have a chance to party with The Ohio State co-eds.
17) P.K. Subban – D (Mon ): How’s 14 Goals on 197 Shots sound? How about 124 Penalty Minutes? How about all that in his rookie season?? Yeah he’ll be on some of my teams this year no doubt… And from what I’ve read, it seems this guy is practically despised by Canadian fans? Defend yourselves Montreal! Oh right, you’re french…
18) Cam Fowler – D (Ana): Considering his plus/minus was a hideous -25 and Visnovsky is still the Top D-Man in Anaheim this is probably a little optimistic, but the upside is there. Fowler not only has the greatest last name for a Ducks player ever, he’s also young and talented. He surprised everyone by not only starting every game, but also becoming a force on the Power Play (6PPG’s, 17PPA’s). He’ll improve on his plus/minus this year and add some points, but if Visnovsky gets hurt or traded the sky’s the limit for Fowler.
19)Tobias Enstrom – D (Wpg): So what does Enstrom say to bias against hockey? It’s not right! (Alright so that was probably only funny to me). Enstrom has been a solid source for Assists the last 2 seasons and heading into his age 27 season I don’t see why he can’t keep that up. The plus/minus has been ugly and he doesn’t shoot, but at least when he does it’s on the Power Play (6 Power Play Goals in 2010-2011).
20) Mark Streit – D (NYI): Originally I didn’t have this guy ranked at all, then I looked at an old ADP from 2009 and went “oh yeah”. Sure he’s old and coming off injury that cost him all of last year, but I’m bullish on the Islanders and Streit is one of the reasons why. He’s a whiz on the Power Play and should be the quarterback for the top unit. And with snipers like Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson and (especially) John Tavares at his disposal I smell potential sleeper…
21) Christian Ehrhoff – D (Buf): The Hoff decided to move to Buffalo so he could be closer to his millions of adoring fans in Germany. Their obsession with his music is beyond explanation… I couldn’t decide if his success the last 2 seasons was him or just the byproduct of being on the best team in the NHL (Canucks). I think it’s the latter, but I could be wrong and if I am he’ll get you 12+ Goals, 30 assists and 20+ PPP’s.
22) Tyler Myers – D (Buf): I had this guy pegged in all my drafts last year. He was coming off a Calder trophy and appeared to be headed into the upper echelon of NHL Defenseman, but instead he just treaded water. Could’ve just been a case of the sophomore jinx though, he could bust out this season so long as Ehrhoff doesn’t steal all his Power Play minutes…
23) Jack Johnson – D (LA): Jack my Johnson (the brother of Josh and Gosh Johnson) milked alot of Power Play minutes from Drew Doughty last year, and I think it will continue in 2011-2012. His plus/minus will make you cringe, but he can provide value with his Power Play Points. He’s like a rich man’s Marc-Andre Bergeron.
24) Dion Phaneuf – D (Tor): I hope I get some irrational Toronto fans yelling at me in the comments about how Phaneuf is poised for a huge year. He’s not. He’s what you call “serviceable”.
25) Brent Burns – D (SJ): Oh no I hope he’s okay. I had 2nd degree burns on my leg when I was a kid and trust me it hurts… I was going to save Mr Burns for a sleeper post, but I’ve got high hopes for him. He’s finally out of pergatory (Minnesota) and has a shot to overtake Boyle as the #1 guy on the blue-line in San Jose.
Just missed the cut: Erik Karlsson – D (Ott), Bryan McCabe – D (NYR), John Carlson – D (Wsh), Ryan Suter – D (Nsh)