It's now time to move on to defensemen for my rankings.  I'll be doing the top 40 defensemen in two separate posts, with the top 20 in this one.  I have gone through the top 100 forwards so you can check those out through the hockey page.  For now, let's get right to the blueliners! 1) Brent Burns - You can check out Burns in the top 20 here.  I feel like I ranked him too low, so when I do my top 50 overall post, I may slide him up a bit. 2) John Carlson - Burns is in a tier by himself, and who to put at the top of tier two is has been a big internal debate for me.  I ultimately decided on Carlson for the safety.  Carlson put up 70 points last season, 33 of which were on the power play.  Both numbers are incredible.  He's also a plus player most seasons and there's no reason to expect a change.  The one concern is that his shot rate plummeted last season from almost 3 shots per game to about 2.25.  That's still solid for a defensemen, but nowhere near a great asset.  Even given that, Carlson was the #3 defenseman last season.  Hopefully there's a bounce back in his shot rate, but either way it's high floor and high ceiling.
We are at the point in the season where it's more important to lead my posts off with the things that have the biggest impact going forward and not the best performances.  Robin Lehner is currently day-to-day with what Barry Trotz called an upper-body injury.  When asked if it was a concussion, Trotz wouldn't give an answer.  Best wishes to Lehner to a speedy recovery no matter what the issue is, but he does have concussion history.  Thomas Greiss started on Thursday and made 35 saves on 37 shots in the 4-2 win over the Senators.  I wouldn't expect anything else against the Senators.  I have been saying Greiss is must-own for a few months now, but for some reason he's still only 27% owned!  If Lehner does miss time, Greiss has a legitimate chance to not only be a #1 goalie the rest of the way, but a top 5 goalie overall.  Pick him up immediately if he's still available in your league.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two days:
Well if I had to guess who would have the second four goal game of the season, I'm not sure Brad Richardson would have been in the first 500 guesses.  Richardson single-handedly carried the Coyotes to victory on Thursday with those four goals on six shots, adding two PIM with a +4 rating.  Richardson has 16 goals in 48 games now, a career high in his 14th season.  For those of you in deep leagues, I would grab Richardson for the faceoff boost too.  In standard leagues, I'm probably passing still despite playing at a 27 goal pace.  Everything about it screams unsustainable, but we have to give props to him burying four in one game.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Long time readers know that I've long been a fan of Bo Horvat's game.  Horvat scored two goals on four shots with two PIM in the 4-0 win over the Ducks on Monday, getting him to 23+25 on the season.  The big deal here is that Horvat is averaging almost three shots per game, now a massive jump from previous years where he was below 2.5.  He also has 29 PIM, a career high.  Look, Horvat is never going to be a fantasy superstar.  He's destined to be the #2 center in Vancouver behind Pettersson.  However, now that there are other young players blossoming around him, his quality of teammate is so much better that his offense should continue to improve.  Horvat is on pace for over 60 points, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see him in the 70-80 range once he enters his prime in a year or two.  In dynasties, he's a guy I'd target because while he's established himself over the last five seasons, the best is yet to come.  For a look at all of the trades from yesterday, read here. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday:
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL.  Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position.  The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion.  First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back.  Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league.  I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out.  I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being.  Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It was only a matter of time until Vladimir Tarasenko picked up his play.  Tarasenko had four goals over the weekend, including a hat trick on Sunday, in two games against the Predators.  That gives him an eight game point streak to get to 22+19 on the season.  Obviously that's still disappointing, but there's time for him to salvage the season.  Hell, the Blues are even in a playoff spot now because of how bad the Western Conference is.  Look for them to make some additions at the deadline because of all of the moves they made in the summer.  Missing the playoffs would be a major disappointment, and creating depth for the lineup would help things out for Tarasenko.  The buy low window is probably closed but there's a strong chance that he's a top 30 player the rest of the way.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Things can change quickly in hockey.  Matt Murray led the Pens to two Stanley Cups, then struggled mightily last season and to open this year.  Now, Murray has caught fire once again.  The netminder had a 33 save shutout on Friday against the Jets.  That means in his last 6 games, he's allowed 6 goals total with his worst save percentage being .931.  We've seen the upside before, and that's of a top 5 goaltender, if not more.  First off, he's somehow available in 15% of leagues, which is absurd.  If you're lucky enough to be in one, grab him immediately.   Two, if you own Casey DeSmith, you can safely drop him.  Lastly, I doubt you'll be able to trade for him given his hot run, but I'd much rather do that than sell high.  The upside of Murray is too high to pass on, and with the Pens playing as well as they lately, the floor is fairly high too.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The St. Louis Blues have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league through the first two months, and that continued on Sunday.  The Canucks destroyed them 6-1 and they were led by their two young stars.  Brock Boeser scored a hat trick on four shots to go along with a +5 rating.  Boeser has had some massive games this season to along with a lot of blanks, which makes him a prime GPP target most nights.  With 9+8 in 19 games with over three shots per game, Boeser is an elite option in all formats.  The Canucks future looks very bright, especially with the California teams all on a downward trajectory, and Boeser is at the forefront with Pettersson (more on him later).  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I didn't expect to be writing about Adin Hill this year, but here we are.  The Coyotes netminder stopped 25 of 26 shots in the 2-1 win over the Kings on Tuesday night.  that means Hill has allowed 2 goals in his past 4 games.  Antti Raanta is close to returning, but the 22 year old is showing some upside for dynasty leagues.  If you're desperate for goaltending, I wouldn't mind streaming Hill if he starts Thursday against the Caps.  The Coyotes are playing well lately and Hill looks to be a prime hot schmotato.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Everyone knew that Elias Pettersson was an elite prospect who was going to score plenty in the NHL.  In a year where rookies around the NHL actually look like rookies, Pettersson is lighting the world on fire.  Petterson scored two goals and added three assists in the 7-6 win over Colorado on Friday, boosting his totals to an insane 9+6 in 9 games so far.  Obviously he's not going to shoot 39% all season, but after lower minutes to open the year, Pettersson has played at least 18 minutes in each of the last four games, including the last two over 20.  For redrafts, he should be a borderline top 50 player this season.  In dynasties, Pettersson is a top 20 talent.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: