THW’s Big List of 100 Defencemen Worth Drafting

When it comes to fantasy hockey, drafting defencemen is all about offence.

Depending how your league is set up, the statistical categories most likely favour forwards followed by goaltenders. Unless there are separate categories for defence scoring, blue-liners should, for the most part, remain off your radar until it is time to flush out your roster. That said, if there are separate categories, then make defencemen a priority because there are certainly less good ones to go around.

Remember that offensively-driven leagues — AKA, almost all leagues — place little to no value on defensive defencemen. The Marc Staal’s and Karl Alzner’s of the world, as good as they are at hockey, are rendered useless. Ditto for proven veterans like Robyn Regehr and Chris Phillips. Stay away from those types. Don’t even put them on your lists.

These are the guys you really want to target, as I’ve ranked my top 100 defencemen worth drafting. This Big List is based strictly on point (goal-assist) potential. So if you are in a 20-team league picking 5 defencemen each, this should serve as a pretty good guide. Your feedback is welcomed in the comments below:

Erik Karlsson Senators
(Icon SMI)
Erik Karlsson is the king of fantasy defencemen and is just as valuable as the top forwards or goaltenders. He has the potential to rank among the NHL’s top 20 point-getters on an annual basis and this year should be no exception.

Tier I

1) Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

2) P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens

3) Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

4) Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

5) Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) Kris Letang, and Mike Green for that matter, are looking to bounce-back and return to form as elite fantasy defencemen. Once upon a time, not that long ago, they were the two best bets to put up Karlsson-type totals. Can they stay healthy and get back to that level? It's a risk worth taking in my opinion.
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Kris Letang, and Mike Green for that matter, are looking to bounce-back and return to form as elite fantasy defencemen. Once upon a time, not that long ago, they were the two best bets to put up Karlsson-type totals. Can they stay healthy and get back to that level? It’s a risk worth taking in my opinion.

Tier II

6) Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins

7) Mike Green, Washington Capitals

8) Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues

9) Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers

10) Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

11) Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

12) Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

13) Keith Yandle, Arizona Coyotes

14) Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

15) Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues

16) Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars

17) Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes

18) Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

Jeff Gross/Getty Images (Photo Courtesy of Columbus Blue Jackets) Jack Johnson is currently a cut below those aforementioned guys, but he has some game-breaking offensive talent and could certainly take his game to the next level this season.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images (Photo Courtesy of Columbus Blue Jackets)
Jack Johnson is currently a cut below those aforementioned guys, but he has some game-breaking offensive talent and could certainly take his game to the next level this season.

Tier III

19) Jack Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets

20) John Carlson, Washington Capitals

21) Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche

22) Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers

23) Torey Krug, Boston Bruins

24) Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks

25) Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings

26) Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leafs

27) Tobias Enstrom, Winnipeg Jets

28) Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils

29) Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers

30) Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers

Visnovsky Islanders
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Lubomir Visnovsky is another one of those guys who, if healthy, could post some big numbers this season. His skill has never been in question, but his durability has become a concern and he’s not getting any younger. But if he’s quarterbacking what should be a potent Islanders’ power play, then don’t pass him up at this point.

Tier IV

31) Lubomir Visnovsky, New York Islanders

32) Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes

33) James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets

34) Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche

35) Matt Niskanen, Washington Capitals

36) Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

37) Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues

38) Dan Boyle, New York Rangers

39) Christian Ehrhoff, Pittsburgh Penguins

40) Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens

(Andy Martin Jr.) Justin Faulk was overshadowed by defence partner Andrej Sekera's breakout season last year, but look for Faulk to take another step forward in 2013-14.
(Andy Martin Jr.)
Justin Faulk was overshadowed by defence partner Andrej Sekera’s breakout season last year, but look for Faulk to take another step forward in 2013-14.

Tier V

41) Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes

42) Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

43) Slava Voynov, Los Angeles Kings

44) Alex Edler, Vancouver Canucks

45) Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders

46) Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins

47) Erik Gudbranson, Florida Panthers

48) Cody Franson, Toronto Maple Leafs

49) Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres

50) Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay Lightning

51) Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild

52) Sergei Gonchar, Dallas Stars

(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports) Nashville's Ryan Ellis could be primed for a breakout, armed with a new long-term contract and playing for an offensive-minded coach in Peter Laviolette.
(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)
Nashville’s Ryan Ellis could be primed for a breakout, armed with a new long-term contract and playing for an offensive-minded coach in Peter Laviolette.

Tier VI

53) Ryan Ellis, Nashville Predators

54) Zach Bogosian, Winnipeg Jets

55) Kris Russell, Calgary Flames

56) Calvin de Haan, New York Islanders

57) Brendan Smith, Detroit Red Wings

58) Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs

59) Seth Jones, Nashville Predators

60) Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

61) Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks

62) Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

(Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports) Chicago's Nick Leddy seems to be slipping down the depth chart a little bit and will need a big year to ensure he remains part of the Blackhawks' core in the future.
(Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago’s Nick Leddy seems to be slipping down the depth chart a little bit and will need a big year to ensure he remains part of the Blackhawks’ core in the future.

Tier VII

63) Nick Leddy, Chicago Blackhawks

64) Matthew Carle, Tampa Bay Lightning

65) T.J. Brodie, Calgary Flames

66) Jason Demers, San Jose Sharks

67) Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia Flyers

68) Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings

69) Jake Muzzin, Los Angeles Kings

70) Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets

71) Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets

72) Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild

73) Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins

Marc-Edouard Vlasic
(Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE)
San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic was a breakout star last season, even cracking Canada’s Olympic roster, but there may not be a ton of offensive upside to his game.

Tier VIII

74) Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks

75) Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks

76) Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning

77) Andrej Meszaros, Buffalo Sabres

78) Nikita Nikitin, Edmonton Oilers

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) Paul Martin is coming off an injury-plagued campaign and will be trying to re-establish himself among Pittsburgh's top-four defencemen. It's tough to tell how much, if any, power-play time he'll be getting as a pending unrestricted free agent.
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Paul Martin is coming off an injury-plagued campaign and will be trying to re-establish himself among Pittsburgh’s top-four defencemen. It’s tough to tell how much, if any, power-play time he’ll be getting as a pending unrestricted free agent.

Tier IX

79) Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins

80) Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim Ducks

81) Andy Greene, New Jersey Devils

82) Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks

83) Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames

84) John-Michael Liles, Carolina Hurricanes

85) Tom Gilbert, Montreal Canadiens

86) Trevor Daley, Dallas Stars

87) Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver Canucks

88) Andrew MacDonald, Philadelphia Flyers

89) Dennis Seidenberg, Boston Bruins

90) Dan Girardi, New York Rangers

91) Johnny Boychuk, Boston Bruins

(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports) Edmonton's Jeff Petry is in the same boat as Martin in that he signed a 1-year extension that takes him to unrestricted free agency next summer. If he can rack up some points, he could cash in on the open market, but that's a pretty big if because the Oilers might be more inclined to give free-agent signing Nikita Nikitin their man-advantage minutes behind Justin Schultz this season.
(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)
Edmonton’s Jeff Petry is in the same boat as Martin in that he signed a 1-year extension that takes him to unrestricted free agency next summer. If he can rack up some points, he could cash in on the open market, but that’s a pretty big if because the Oilers might be more inclined to give free-agent signing Nikita Nikitin their man-advantage minutes behind Justin Schultz this season.

Tier X

92) Jeff Petry, Edmonton Oilers

93) Dmitry Kulikov, Florida Panthers

94) Chris Tanev, Vancouver Canucks

95) Brenden Dillon, Dallas Stars

96) David Savard, Columbus Blue Jackets

97) Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings

98) Eric Gelinas, New Jersey Devils

99) Ryan Murphy, Carolina Hurricanes

100) Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.