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.
Hey guys! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season. Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. On our 18th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re crossing the border again to stop in the 6ix – What’s up Leafs Nation? After the monster signing up Johnny T last summer, the Willy hold-out and re-upping Matthews for five years, the time has come to pay Mitch. GM Kyle Dubas has bobbed and weaved thus far, and I am sure they will get something figured out soon. That being said, there are 19 other Leafers to talk about!
From an individual standpoint, this season couldn't be going any better for John Tavares.  That continued on Monday night as Tavares scored 4 goals in the 7-5 win over Florida.  That brings Tavares to 45 goals and 86 points, both career highs.  Obviously we know to roll Tavares every time out, but where does he rank going into next season?  He's bumped his shot rate back up to an elite level and his plus-minus is by far a career best.  Is that sustainable?  It might be given how good Toronto is.  This, of course, assumes that Marner returns next season.  I don't think he'll make my top 10, but it will be very close.  At the least, Tavares will be in consideration for the wheel in a 12 team draft come September.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I've felt that Thomas Greiss was underrated for years.  When I started at Razzball, he was battling Halak for playing time and should have received more than he did.  Last season, when I was fully buying in, he was a mess.  This year, his value was so low that he was a nice gamble and he paid off handsomely.  Greiss had a 31 save shutout on Thursday beating Columbus 3-0.  Greiss is pushing a .930 save percentage and it's deserved; he's third in the league in goals saved about expectation.  The bad news is that his teammate is #2 in that category.  Look, Greiss isn't going to get the majority of starts, right around half of the Isles remaining games.  However, those starts are going to be extremely valuable.  He's only owned in 23% of leagues right now which is far too low.  That reason alone is why I'm starting this post with Greiss.  I've been saying for over a month that he should be owned in all formats, but if you're lucky enough for him to still be on the wire, go and get him.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
In my Monday post, I called Frank Vatrano the best streamer of the night.  As simple as my rationale was, getting to play with Barkov does wonders for anyone.  Vatrano has been playing well lately, but the jump to the first line helps tremendously, and he showed how on Monday.  Vatrano scored a goal and dished three assists in the 6-2 win over the Sharks, putting five shots on goal in the process.  Normally, I'd say go get Vatrano right now to see what happens.  There's definitely upside going forward.  The problem is that the Panthers don't play again until next Friday.  For those in roto leagues, I would grab Vatrano now and stash him on your bench.  In head to head leagues, I would wait until the middle of next week unless a spot opens up on your roster due to someone going on injured reserve.  However, I definitely want Vatrano for the back-to-back next weekend, so don't wait until last minute so you avoid somebody else sniping you on him.  There's a real chance Vatrano, who was a prolific AHL goal scorer and showed upside before in Boston, could become a hold for the rest of the season.  Let's take a look at what else happened this week:
Eichel and Skinner are getting tons of credit for the great start to the season for the Buffalo Sabres, but Sam Reinhart isn't getting the love he deserves.  Reinhart had five assists in two games over the weekend, extending his point streak to 10 and reaching 32 points in 34 games.  I've long been a Reinhart supporter but this jump is to an unprecedented level.  The former second overall pick does all of the little things so well and this year, he's finally being rewarded for it.  I don't see why he can't get 70+ points come season's end.  His goals are actually down from last season and with how well the top line is playing, there's no reason why Reinhart can't end up pushing last season's total of 25.  He was always expected to be a playmaker going back to his junior days and now, he might set a new career high in assists by New Year's.  If you're in one of the 25% of leagues that Reinhart is still available, go grab him immediately.  For those who own him, I would definitely hold tight and enjoy the breakout.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
There wasn't a ton of goal scoring over the last two nights, but the most notable performance came from the reigning MVP.  Taylor Hall won the game against the Penguins virtually by himself, scoring two goals and two assists with six shots in the 4-2 win.  That brings Hall up to 5+14 in 16 games with over 3.5 shots per game.  Can we expect a repeat of last season?  That would be a stretch.  Hall shot 14% last season while for the majority of the rest of his career, he's been in the 8-11% range.  This year he's at 8.6, a little low but not an outlier.  I would say 25-30 goals seems likely, but a new career high in assists (54) is certainly within range.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's nothing new when Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler have big games, and both managed to do so twice this weekend.  In Friday's 5-2 win over the Avalanche, Wheeler registered a point on all five goals, going 1+4, while Scheifele scored a goal and two assists with three shots.  They followed that up with Wheeler getting two more assists and Scheifele posting a 2+1 game.  Wheeler already has 20 assists in 16 games to go with 19 PIM and 3 goals, while Scheifele is up to 9+10 with 20 PIM.  Wheeler was a borderline first round pick that I had ranked as a high second rounder, while Scheifele was more 2nd/3rd range.  With his shot rate at exactly 2.5 per game right now, that solidifies him as a second round value.  Remember when ESPN had him ranked in the 60s?  Hilarious.  These two should continue to put up points no matter the opposition.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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: