Today, we wrap up my defensemen rankings going through the top 40.  Guys that don’t make this list will creep into my top 200, but these 20 blueliners will be the last guys that get a whole paragraph on them.  For those who didn’t see it, my top 20 can be read here.  Let’s get right to it!

21) Seth Jones – I know it will be controversial that Jones isn’t in my top 20.  A lot of my concerns with Jones last season were founded.  His huge jump in shot rate dropped almost all the way back to where it was in 2016-17.  His power play totals plummeted.  His assists and goals both dropped despite the team shooting 9.9% while Jones was on the ice last season, the best of his career.  Am I expecting a big bounce back?  Not really.  The loss of Panarin should help increase his PP role, but he could also lose PP1 time to Werenski.  Obviously he could get back to 2017-18 form where he was a bottom end #2, but I have my doubts.

22) Mikhail Sergachev – I wrote a sleeper post on Sergachev here.  The more digging I did, the more I didn’t like the guys in the 21-30 range.  Sergachev and the next guy are the main two I like, simply for the upside.  The idea of getting quality defensemen early appeals to me this season more than usual, and I’m a big fan of getting stud blueliners.

23) Quinn Hughes – Another gamble, but like Makar, I absolutely love the skill set.  These two are quite similar, I just slightly prefer Makar’s situation.  Hughes should be running the top power play for the Canucks and getting top 4 minutes right away.  Getting to play with Boeser, Pettersson, Horvat, and Miller sounds outstanding.  His creativity, vision, and patience to play within his speed position him to be a stud right away.  A rookie season like Chabot’s second season is in play here.

24) Shea Weber – On a per-game basis, Weber has been great in Montreal.  The problem is that he’s missed 80 games over the past two seasons.  Weber is taking almost three shots per game and shooting at a percentage that should get him around 20 goals.  My assumption is that if he is healthy, Weber is going to get a lot more PPP this season.  Obviously it’s a risk, but there aren’t many defenseman who can score 20 goals.

25) Alex Pietrangelo – Like the majority of the Blues, Pietrangelo started horribly and finished the season strong.  He’s good for double digit goals , low PIM, and a solid shot rate.  Pietrangelo also is only decent on the power play.  In other words, it’s pretty boring except for goals.  That said, Pietrangelo is extremely safe and if that’s your third defenseman, you’re in solid shape.  Pairing him with Makar, Hughes, Sergachev, etc. to cover yourself is a great plan.

26) Ryan Ellis – After a huge second half in 2017-18 coming back from a knee injury, Ellis was just fine last season with 41 points.  Here’s what I’m excited about.  Subban is gone so Ellis is a lock to get power play time.  Additionally, Subban’s departure should force Laviolette to give more minutes to Josi and Ellis.  Since Ellis has been a full time NHL’er, he’s been +8 or better, including +17 or better for the past three seasons.  He doesn’t give many PIM and the shot rate can be slightly below average to solid, but Ellis could easily give us 10+40 with some upside from there to go with great plus-minus.

27) Erik Gustafsson – Gustafsson took off in the second half when Chicago increased his role, scoring a whopping 60 points.  With 34 PIM and right around two shots per game, the secondary stats are fine.  Now, no defenseman shoots 10.6% regularly so we can expect some regression from Gustafsson in the goals department.  However, we could see more power play assists given a full season in that role.  My one concern is that Gustafsson is a UFA at the end of next season, and if Chicago is struggling and can’t get an extension, he could get traded.  If he’s moved, he’ll certainly go into a worse role than he has with Chicago.  I was on Gustafsson early last season, but there is some concern here.

28) Drew Doughty – Doughty had the season from hell and still had 45 points with 44 PIM.  He hasn’t missed a game in five seasons and the PPP are always strong.  The problem is two-fold.  One, the shot rate plummeted.  I could see that getting back to average so I’m not that concerned about it.  The bigger problem is the plus-minus could be a wreck again.  Going from +23 to -34 is the biggest swing I can remember.  Offensively, the Kings were shooting at a normal percentage for Doughty when he was on the ice.  The problem was the goaltending was worse and Doughty’s possession numbers took a massive drop.  Was it a one season drop or is Doughty falling off?  We’ll have to see, but I’ve always been lower on Doughty than consensus and the Kings’ struggles are going to continue this season, no doubt about it.

29) Oliver Ekman-Larsson – This is almost the same situation as Doughty except OEL has been -16 or worse three straight seasons.  The PIM are strong, the goals are very good for a defenseman, and he’s solid on the PP.  The upside is that Kessel helps the PP and OEL gets back to 50 points.  The downside is he’s -25 again and it’s hard to own him, especially in roto leagues.

30) Shayne Gostisbehere – As much as I don’t care for most of the guys above, I really don’t care for most of these guys.  I have no idea what we’re going to get from Gostisbehere.  It could be 60 points, it could be 35.  What we know is that he’ll be on PP1 on a unit that is generally very good.  If you told me he ended up pushing the top 10 for defensemen, I wouldn’t be surprised.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if people get super frustrated with him and are asking me if it’s okay to cut him.

31) Zach Werenski – A repeat of last season for Werenski seems realistic.  That would be about 45 points with poor PIM, decent shots and PPP.  Perhaps the shot rate can get back up to where it’s an asset.  He’s still only 22 years old so I’m not ruling out Werenski taking another jump, but a lot will come down to his power play role and how good CBus is there.

32) Anthony DeAngelo – Alright, somebody I really like!  Now, that’s not to say there’s concern here with DeAngelo.  One, he’s still unsigned and I’m not sure if a deal gets done sooner than later.  Two, it’s possible that Fox takes his PP time.  I think the two play together on PP2 but we’ll have to wait and see how.  However, if DeAngelo is playing on opening night getting PP2 time, he could get 40 points and 100 PIM.  Yes, the shot rate is slightly below average, but it’s extremely difficult to get that out of anyone on the blue line.  You won’t need to take him this early, but I’m targeting DeAngelo because he fits so many team builds.

33) Charlie McAvoy – I wanted to rank McAvoy higher, and in head to head leagues I probably would bump him a few spots.  He’s great with plus-minus and PIM, there’s PP upside (especially if Krug goes down) and he played at a 40-45 point pace last season.  However, that shot rate is dreadful and he’s missed a bunch of time in both of his seasons.  The upside assuming Krug stays healthy is that McAvoy gets to two shots per game and PP2 improves for Boston.  He’s easily a #2 if that happens.  I like targeting him around here, but I can’t reach on the assumption he starts to shoot more.

34) Josh Morrissey – Morrissey is another guy who has a poor shot rate, although we saw a big jump in year three.  My hope is that we see the year four leap.  One, his PP2 spot is locked in as is a massive role at even strength with Big Buff.  Morrissey may have to play 27 minutes a game because the Jets blueline is extremely lacking.  The PIM should bounce back and he’s been a plus player every season.  If Big Buff misses time again, the upside is insane here.  Again, this is another guy you should be able to get much later that I’d like to gamble on.

35) Aaron Ekblad – Double digit goals, good PIM and a shot rate that ranges from average to very good.  Ekblad is still only 23 so I don’t want to rule out improvement, but it’s season six and Yandle has PP1 locked down, so Ekblad is more of a play for the secondary stats than anything else.

36) Miro Heiskanen – Heiskanen’s rookie season has become a bit overrated, but I still love the player long term.  The issue is that he’s another guy blocked out of PP1, in this case because of Klingberg.  The shots are already very good, and he ran particularly bad in terms of plus-minus last season so I’m not too concerned there.  This is another case of gambling on the upside because I don’t love the alternatives.

37) Ryan Suter – Suter showed signs of decline last season at age 34.  The shot rate has really dropped off to the point that it’s become a negative.  His power play points really fell off but were saved a bit from Dumba being injured.  We can’t count on that happening again.  The penalty minutes and assists are decent enough to be owned, but it’s certainly not going to be exciting.

38) Mattias Ekholm – I feel like I should move Ekholm higher because I do want to own him.  When I do overall rankings, I assume that will happen.  He gives solid PIM, his shot rate has climbed every season as he pushes towards average, and he’s been a massive plus the last two seasons.  He only had 7 PPP as well, which is a negative but is one of the two discussion points for Ekholm.  Yes, Subban is gone, but Ekholm still may not get PP work.  That could go to his new partner Fabbro.  Ekholm is so good in real life that I don’t think losing Subban as a partner will hurt too much, especially with how Subban played last season, but maybe Fabbro isn’t ready for difficult minutes and it drags Ekholm down.  However, an injury to any of Josi, Ellis, or even Fabbro could make Ekholm a #2D.  It’s not like these other guys who need one specific player to go down to get a big value boost, it’s one of 2-3 for Ekholm.

39) Ivan Provorov – Provorov looked like he was going to take off after a 17+24 second season with 2.5 shots per game.  Instead, his offense disappeared.  At this point in the draft, I’m looking to gamble on somebody because I can easily cut them without issue.  Provorov fits that billing.  If he plays 25 minutes again and gets the shot rate back up, we should see double digit goals.  He’s also done nothing on the power play and maybe that changes on PP2.  I could also see taking a shot on Sanheim on the same basis, but we’ve seen Provorov be a #3 before so taking him as a 4 to gamble makes sense.

40) Alex Edler – All of the secondary stats are great, but will the points remain with Hughes in the fold?  There will be a hit in PP totals unless Hughes struggles (I highly doubt it) or gets injured.  He’s basically the older, safer version of DeAngelo.  That carries plenty of value and as mentioned above, fits in most team builds.

That’s all for now guys.  I will have a goaltending post later in the week before making a big top 200 list.  I want to get that list out by the end of the week so everyone has it for upcoming drafts, and then I’ll have a separate post next week with details on guys at the bottom of the list that aren’t covered in my position rankings.  As always, feel free to ask any questions, give any comments, or make any suggestions below.  Thanks for reading, take care!

  1. Peter says:
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    Excellent analysis Viz! Appreciate all that you do, One point I’d like to run by you though where I may disagree with your rankings! Are you convinced that Hughes will be handed the PP1 quarterback role over Edler that quickly? Same with Makar over Girard? I wonder if both Edler and Girard are being way overlooked??

    Also, how about Devon Toews??? Your thoughts?

    Thank you Viz!

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Thanks! There’s next to no chance Girard is over Makar. All indications in Colorado are that it’s Makar, and he’s a power play wizard. I suppose Edler has some chance over Hughes, but the days of young guys being eased in are all but over. Hughes is a much better playmaker than Edler (they’re not in the same stratosphere) and while Edler has a better shot right now, that’s not enough to play Edler when they have other great shooters on the unit. I could see Hughes being left on the second pair while edler gets more minutes than him (I expect it), but not on the power play

  2. Shitwolf says:
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    will your list be out by thursday? thats when i draft

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      I will try, but at the least I will make sure my goaltending ranks are so you have each position

  3. Great info Viz! Appreciate all your work.

    Who do you have 8th in the Metro? I have the Rangers, you said maybe 7th place for them.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Thank you for the kind words, I appreciate it. I would lean Columbus only because I’m afraid their goaltending torpedos their season. I like their team better than most as far as skaters go, but Korpisalo and Elvis have to be the worst duo in the league. One injury could really hurt the Devils or Flyers too

      • Korpisalso is terrible! I hope Elvis is the real deal. Either way the Metro is stacked ! Who do you have winning the Central? I think too many are forgetting that Nashville won it the past two years and last year they won it with a HORRIBLE power play!

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          Elvis has a chance, but it’s a big risk counting on him.

          I probably still go with Nashville, but it’s going to be a lot tougher with at least the Blues, Stars, and Avalanche breathing down their throats. They’re the favorite, but maybe like 35% chance? It’s a very tight division

  4. Shitwolf says:
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    Hey Viz who would you be looking to target as your #1 D this year? is it worth it to grab a stud or just grab forwards and start with a hamilton or dumba?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      I would say I don’t have much of a plan to target somebody specific. I like both of those guys plenty, but I also really like where I think I’ll be able to get Big Buff and Josi (and even Burns in the second round in some spots). Honestly, with how things fall off on the blue line, I could see myself ending up with 3-4 guys who crack my top 25 defensemen rankings. I trust myself to get plenty of forwards with value, but if you want too long for defensemen, it’s tough to find late breakouts.

  5. Yr Never Too Old For Balloons says:
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    20 team dynasty with hits/blocks/PPG/PPA/faceoffs/short handed goals/short handed assists/shot % added to normal stuff. here i need at least 8 PIT players at all times, already have them now even while losing kessel. start real life rosters so can only keep 23 max predraft. here i have too many wingers and not enough D men, trying to trade hintz or tuch for a D man predraft. have an offer of pelech for hintz to DAL owner. 5 NA slots for stashing guys. max IR (5 IR, 5 IR+, i’ve still filled these before)
    C (4) crosby, malkin, couture, turris, c.white (RW)
    LW (4): guentzel (RW), t.meier (RW), hintz (C), aston reese (RW), fiala (RW)
    RW (4): kessel, hornqvist, tuch, rust (LW), sikura (LW)
    D (6): letang, provorov, chychrun, bouchard, m.pettersson (PIT)
    G (1): desmith, murray (used to have lehner too, held him for years, then right when he was looking like a 30% starter in say december or so dropped him at absolutely the worst time ever, goalie max rule here you can have as many as you want from one real life team and up to 1 from a 2nd team, cannot have 3 or more from 3 or more different teams (this only applies to healthy active guys)
    that’s 22.
    drops right now: maatta (this guy ain’t done much for years and i only held him since he was PIT player, doesn’t get much hits/blocks either), cernak, perlini (he might be kept over somebody else, but not sure who), ceci, weegar, formenton, anderson-dolan, ronald mcdonald (sunny play here, it’s mcelhinney the goalie), jarry

    1. keepers look right or any changes there?
    2. do that hintz for pelech trade or no? it’s not likely i get many other offers for tuch or hintz predraft, some owners are so inertia driven until the site itself makes trades easier these don’t get done (yahoo so we comishes have to do the extra work on predraft trades here)

    • Yr Never Too Old For Balloons says:
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      the goalie rule does allow for the crappy streamers to be out there and in some instances a guy who got a job from an injury is out there (say kuemper early in season last year for instance). 3 min goalie app per week.

      • Yr Never Too Old For Balloons says:
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        one possible thing, if sikura (not listed as up on dailyfaceoff), or aston reese (same) get sent down i could NA them then add D men and at least for a while not have too many wingers, as a lot of these wingers are def keepable players.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Any reason you’d consider trading Tuch? I wouldn’t be looking to move him unless you can get a pretty good defenseman. I’d rather move Fiala than him without second thought. Keepers look good to me, don’t really see a lot to debate on that.

      If you need the blocks, and obviously you need the defenseman, I can understand the move. It’s just tough since he’s going to play with Pavelski and played so well in the playoffs that I wouldn’t really be looking to move Hintz for a guy who is getting 0 PPP and would be lucky to repeat 20 points. Obviously Pelech carries more value in a league like this because of the huge hits and blocks. I think you lose the trade in a vacuum but it still might help your team based on your needs? I think you can go either way on this one but probably prefer Hintz since he’s good in hits and blocks for a forward, should take more faceoffs now, and should improve with Pavelski. But again, if you want the defenseman and Pelech is all you can get, that’s fine.

      • Yr Never Too Old For Balloons says:
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        yeah i’ve posted that i’m trying to move at least one of perlini/tuch/hintz. fiala i can add to that. you thinking those PIT/CHI depth charts will just change later and sikura/aston reese will be up at start of year? if they aren’t i could keep all of these except perlini then NA those 2, add D men later or trade later. the trade market in these leagues opens up a lot more after draft. some don’t even pay attention till that in these things, others want to see what they have after they draft first.

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