What’s poppin, Razzpimples? If you missed my Top 20 full-bangs defensemen piece (accounting for standard cats + blocks + PIMs), you can find it right here. Below, you'll see #21-#40. After that, I'll give a list of names to watch for various reasons, but I don't see much point ranking guys when you get to that range. It'll depend on personal preference and your team build when it comes to deciding who should be our #4 or #5 defenseman. Odds are they won't stick on your roster all season anyway. Keep in mind, these rankings are for categories leagues.
We move through more defensemen today going through my Top 40. For those that didn't see my Top 20, you can check that out here. I have some good news before I get going with these rankings. JKJ is going to be back! He's going to shift his focus this season towards defensemen, similar to what he does on the baseball side of things with relief pitchers. Look for him to be writing again in the near future, with a rebuttal to my defenseman rankings the first thing coming. And now, let's get to it!
There's been plenty of bounce back players this season across the NHL. One of them who hasn't received the attention of others is Ryan Johansen. Johansen's career was strongly trending in the wrong direction the previous two seasons, including only 22 points in 48 games last season. He has been decent most of the season, but really took once he moved to the top line. His best game of the season was on Tuesday night, scoring his first career hat trick on seven shots in the 6-2 win over the Wild. Johansen now has 20+34 on the season with 51 PIM. Yes, Johansen's career has turned out to be a big disappointment with the way it was trending early on in Columbus, but it's nice to see him score 20 goals for the first time since 2014. Remarkably, he's still 29 years old, so this level of play can be repeated next season. For the rest of this one, Johansen is an elite streamer in standard leagues and a hold if your league doesn't include SOG as a category. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Igor Shesterkin has been long anointed as "the next one." It turns out he's even better than I expected, and I have him at +1200 to win the Vezina. Shesterkin saved 36 of 37 shots in the 4-1 win over the Capitals on Thursday, losing his shutout with one minute left to an Ovechkin flubbed deflection. Let's face the facts. The Rangers are the good bad team. Yes, the power play is great, but they're a below average even strength team being propped up by how good Shesterkin. He's certainly the best goalie in dynasties, and for this season, it's a two man tier of Shesterkin and Vasilevskiy. If NHL players were in the Olympics, one of these guys would have been stuck backing up, probably Igor. Pretty absurd. Regardless, I'm not a first round pick goalie guy, but starting next season, I wouldn't be surprised if Igor stays in that territory for the next 5+ years. Let's take a look at the last two nights:
What's up, Razzball hockey nerds! I'm filling in for Viz this week, who's doing some traveling. Let's start off by giving some love to Tanner Jeannot. At the time of writing this, the dude is still only 47% rostered on Yahoo despite being the #94 overall player in standard formats. He brings massive value in the hits category, clocking in as the #4 forward (and #5 player) in that regard. But he's not your Clutterbuck or Reaves type who isn't scoring any points. Nay, Jeannot has 17 G and 14 A in 51 GP this year. On Tuesday, Jeannot netted two more goals on 3 SOG, chipping in a +2 rating and 6 H, which is a badass freakin line in a standard format. Oh yeah! And if you're a PIM-leaguer, Jeannot is elite there as well, with 87 on the year. All this from a 24-year-old I'd never heard of and who went undrafted, ultimately being signed by the Preds last year and appearing in 15 games. He's an every day-er now, and I think it's safe to say he's found a very comfortable home in the NHL. Here's what stood out over the last couple days of action:
One of the most popular names discussed in the trade market lately has been J.T. Miller. A big reason is because whoever trades for him would have him signed for next season as well. The main reason is because he's a damn good hockey player and he showed that on Thursday. Miller had a hat trick and an assist with five shots in the 5-1 win over the Jets. Miller is on pace for the best season of his career, which says a lot because he was over a point per game two seasons ago. There's no guarantee Vancouver moves him, but if he does, I'm hesitant to think it would help his trade value. If anything, I would expect it to hurt. He gets massive minutes that he might not get on his new team, including top power play time. I wouldn't necessarily sell high on him, especially two months from the deadline, but it's something to think about. Here's to hoping we don't have to worry about that. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Not everybody can step into the league and score 105 points like Crosby or 52 goals like Ovechkin did. Even for #1 overall picks, it can take some time for them to learn the league and figure out how to play to their strengths. If the last week is any indication, it looks like Jack Hughes has started to figure it out. After a three point game earlier in the week, Hughes followed that up with another three point game; two goals and an assist with seven shots against the Oilers. On Sunday, Hughes kept the multi-point streak going with two assists against the Capitals. That brings to 8+8 in 16 games. You don't need a math major like me to tell you that's a 41+41 pace over 82 games. The minutes are starting to reach first line minutes on a regular basis. Missing a lot of time will keep his overall value down, but Hughes has a reasonable chance to be a top 50 player this season on a per-game basis, and he'll be ranked extremely high from yours truly in 2022-23. Let's take a look at what else happened over what was hopefully a great New Years weekend for everyone!
Jeff Skinner scored 40 goals in 2018-19 playing on the first line with the Sabres. Then, for no reason at all, Ralph Krueger decided that Skinner shouldn't play on the first line anymore. Last season, Krueger thought that Skinner, on a team devoid of talent, should play on the fourth line, or even be scratched. Needless to say, Krueger was one of the worst coaches in the league and quickly lost his job. Since Don Granato took over, Skinner has been back in the role he should be, and he's been thriving in the early part of this season. Skinner scored two goals and added an assist on Saturday against the Maple Leafs. He has 5+4 in 14 games so far with a whopping 47 shots on goal. The shot volume will go a long way towards Skinner finding his goal scoring touch again. I don't think he's a slam dunk hold in 12'ers just yet, but he's an elite streamer with clear upside in his role. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
My love for Alex Ovechkin is no secret for the readers who frequent these parts. The best goal scorer of all time continues to torment the opposition as he's in the midst of one of the best starts of his career. Ovechkin had a goal and two assists with six shots against the Sabres on Monday. Through twelve games, Ovechkin has a ridiculous 11+10 with 60 shots on goals. That's five shots per game, which he's had that or more in seven straight games. The Great Eight is playing his best hockey at even strength in years at age 36. Don't take Alex Ovechkin for granted! Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Razzball favorite Oliver Bjorkstrand had his second 3+ point game of the young season on Thursday, dishing three assists and adding two shots in the 3-2 OT win over the Islanders. That's seven points in four games and the equally encouraging sign is that Bjorkstrand played over 20 minutes in this game. He's owned in almost every league like he should be, but the upside may be even higher than I gave Bjorkstrand credit for. I have no doubt that the goals are going to come, but the playmaking has improved leaps and bounds over the last season plus. I don't think he can quite get to being a top 50 player in a best case scenario, but top 75 is attainable. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hey, Razzballers! We've made it to our final round of stops: the Atlantic Division. It's a two-day journey, where today I'll be taking you through Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, and then circle back southeast for Florida. Lot of ground to cover in one day but thankfully we won't stay long in Buffalo or Detroit. Not much to see. Tomorrow, our final four stops together shall commence: Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Tampa Bay. Need a refresher on all the previews thus far? Have at it:
We're moving out from the crease to the blue liners in my rankings. Today, I'll be going through the top 20 defensemen with the Top 40 coming out later in the week. Let's get right to it! 1) Cale Makar - Covered in the Top 20 overall here. 2) Dougie Hamilton - The top defenseman last season by a fairly wide margin, Hamilton moved from Carolina to New Jersey. It's a little worrisome, but I still expect big things from Dougie. I wouldn't be surprised if Hamilton ends up getting more minutes than he did while he was in Carolina.