Fantasy Hockey: Defencemen Rankings

David Petrie’s rankings can be found on The Hockey Writers and will be up shortly on Fantasy Pros as well. Goalie rankings were posted earlier and a top 250 rankings will be posted later in August. These 2018-19 fantasy hockey defence rankings are based on standard Yahoo! league categories, including goals, assists, plus-minus, power-play points, penalty minutes and shots.

  1. Brent Burns SJ
  2. Erik Karlsson OTT
  3. Victor Hedman TB
  4. Dustin Byfuglien WPG
  5. P.K. Subban NSH
  6. Roman Josi NSH
  7. Drew Doughty LA
  8. John Carlson WSH
  9. John Klingberg DAL
  10. Shayne Gostisbehere PHI
  11. Seth Jones CBJ
  12. Kristopher Letang PIT
  13. Dougie Hamilton CAR
  14. Tyson Barrie COL
  15. Torey Krug BOS
  16. Mark Giordano CGY
  17. Keith Yandle FLA
  18. Alex Pietrangelo STL
  19. Morgan Rielly TOR
  20. Rasmus Dahlin BUF
  21. Zachary Werenski CBJ
  22. Jake Gardiner TOR
  23. Oliver Ekman-Larsson ARI
  24. Aaron Ekblad FLA
  25. Mathew Dumba MIN
  26. Ivan Provorov PHI
  27. Rasmus Ristolainen BUF
  28. Duncan Keith CHI
  29. Kevin Shattenkirk NYR
  30. Ryan Ellis NSH
  31. Colin Miller VGK
  32. Justin Faulk CAR
  33. Mikhail Sergachev TB
  34. Ryan Suter MIN
  35. Jake Muzzin LA
  36. Charlie McAvoy BOS
  37. Oscar Klefbom EDM
  38. Jeff Petry MTL
  39. Nick Leddy NYI
  40. Cam Fowler ANA
  41. Tyler Myers WPG
  42. Will Butcher NJ
  43. Colton Parayko STL
  44. Shea Weber MTL
  45. Brandon Montour ANA
  46. Jacob Trouba WPG
  47. Mattias Ekholm NSH
  48. Josh Manson ANA
  49. Shea Theodore VGK
  50. Ryan Pulock NYI
  51. Alexander Edler VAN
  52. Justin Schultz PIT
  53. Thomas Chabot OTT
  54. Mike Green DET
  55. Jared Spurgeon MIN

Potential Future Trade Impacts

Erik Karlsson could potentially be traded at some point this year and if he is, Thomas Chabot’s value rises dramatically, though Chabot could potentially be heavily in the minus on an Ottawa Senators team that may struggle to win this season. Karlsson himself is so talented that his value won’t change much wherever he is traded but he could impact other defencemen on his new team. For example, if Karlsson is traded to the Dallas Stars, I would lower John Klingberg in my rankings, as Karlsson would take away from some of his prime ice time.

Erik Karlsson #65, Ottawa Senators
Erik Karlsson #65, Ottawa Senators – Feb. 3, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Justin Faulk is another name on the trade block right now. If he is traded, Dougie Hamilton’s value rises as he will become the clear top power play defenceman for Carolina. Faulk’s value will depend on where he goes and whether he will be on that team’s top power play or not.

Pay Attention to Categories in Your Fantasy League

I mentioned above that the categories used for these rankings are goals, assists, plus-minus, power play points, penalty minutes and shots. If your league is different you will need to take that into account. If you don’t have penalty minutes, Dustin Byfuglien is not nearly as useful. If you don’t have shots, Brent Burns and Dougie Hamilton would be ranked a little lower. If you don’t have plus-minus, Kevin Shattenkirk, Nick Leddy and Oliver Ekman-Larrson become more valuable.

Real Hockey vs. Fantasy Hockey

I have Charlie McAvoy ranked 36th in my rankings compared to 19th on’s rankings. It’s not that I think he’s a bad player. In fact, I think he’s fantastic. I just think McAvoy is much better in real hockeywhere he shuts down opposing teams’ top lines as a 20-year-oldthan he is in fantasy hockey, where he only took 77 shots last season and doesn’t get many power play-points.

Hampus Lindholm, Ivan Provorov, Jacob Trouba, Colton Parayko and Jaccob Slavin are other defencemen that I think are great in real life but not nearly as good in fantasy hockey.

Potential Breakout Candidates

Aaron Ekblad scored 39 points in his rookie season and hasn’t managed to improve on that total in the following three years. That’s very strange. The Florida Panthers’ signing of Keith Yandle has obviously held Ekblad back from a statistical standpoint, but Ekblad easily has 50-point potential if he can get more offensive ice time. The Panthers now have a solid top-six forward unit including Alexander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadonov, Vincent Trocheck, Mike Hoffman and Nick Bjugstad, so it’s possible Ekblad’s breakout will come this season.

Oscar Klefbom’s big breakout was supposed to come last season but it was derailed by injuries. Barring a trade, he’s still the best bet to play key power-play minutes alongside Connor McDavid, which makes him a good post-hype breakout candidate.

Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom
Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Ryan Pulock had 10 goals, 32 points, and a whopping 184 shots in just 68 games last season. He’s a good candidate for a breakout season personally, but I still have him ranked relatively low since I have very little faith in the New York Islanders as a team and his point and plus-minus totals could suffer as a result.

Defencemen Playing for a Contract

John Carlson had only scored more than 40 points once in his career prior to the 2017-18 season, which happened to be his contract year. He scored 68 points and earned himself an eight-year, $64-million contract ($8-million AAV). He is just one of many examples of players that have fantastic seasons in their contract years.

Looking ahead, the relevant defencemen in contract years in 2018-19 are Erik Karlsson, Ryan Ellis, Tyler Myers, Jake Gardiner, Zach Werenski, Will Butcher, Ivan Provorov, Jacob Trouba, Alexander Edler, Nate Schmidt, Esa Lindell and Nikita Zadorov (who is already very useful in banger leagues that count penalty minutes and hits).