THW’s Top 165 Fantasy Defencemen


The fantasy hockey season is upon us and, like last year, I’ve taken the time to rank my top defencemen for single-season leagues and box pools.

This year’s Big List is 165 deep, plus five players currently in limbo and 15 prospects to keep tabs on during training camp in case they crack their respective rosters.

I’ve ranked these 160 defencemen based solely on point potential for this season — who I think will record the most points — rather than on overall ability. Therefore you’ll notice that defence-first (stay-at-home/shutdown) types are ranked lower, if at all. I went with 165 this year — up from 100 last year — because I felt comfortable with that number based on my keeper-league experience where 20 teams dress six defencemen each (120) on their active roster and carry a couple more on their bench.

These lists are always difficult to compile and often involve some bias, or personal preference, so I don’t expect everybody to agree with my rankings. Feel free to leave a comment below if you feel certain players are too high or too low and I’ll elaborate on my reasoning.

Without further ado, here are my top 165 defencemen for the 2015-16 fantasy season:

(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports) Erik Karlsson is simply on another level when it comes to producing points from the back end. His offensive instincts are second to none and he could put up 10 more points than the next-best defenceman, so don't be afraid to grab him early in your draft if you need a certain number of D. If he's in a box pool with other blue-liners, that's a no-brainer.
(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)
Erik Karlsson is simply on another level when it comes to producing points from the back end. His offensive instincts are second to none and he could put up 10 more points than the next-best defenceman, so don’t be afraid to grab him early in your draft if you need a certain number of D. If he’s in a box pool with other blue-liners, that’s a no-brainer.

1) Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

2) Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

3) P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens

4) Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins

5) Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues

6) Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes

7) Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche

8) Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

9) John Carlson, Washington Capitals

10) Keith Yandle, New York Rangers

11) Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

12) Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

13) Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

14) Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

15) Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

16) Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

17) Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes

18) John Klingberg, Dallas Stars

19) Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) Aaron Ekblad had a pretty incredible rookie season for the Florida Panthers — finishing tied for 28th in scoring amongst defencemen with 39 points in 81 games. I don't foresee a sophomore slump for the 2014 first overall pick and think Ekblad will take another step forward into the top 20 in defence scoring.
(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Aaron Ekblad had a pretty incredible rookie season for the Florida Panthers — finishing tied for 28th in scoring amongst defencemen with 39 points in 81 games. I don’t foresee a sophomore slump for the 2014 first overall pick, instead believing Ekblad will take another step forward into the top 20.

20) Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

21) Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues

22) Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings

23) Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers

24) Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

25) Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers

26) Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche

27) Jack Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets

28) Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames

29) Alexander Edler, Vancouver Canucks

30) Jake Muzzin, Los Angeles Kings

31) Cody Franson, Buffalo Sabres

32) David Savard, Columbus Blue Jackets

33) Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers

34) Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens

35) Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings

36) James Wisniewski, Carolina Hurricanes

37) Torey Krug, Boston Bruins

38) Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) The Toronto Maple Leafs are probably going to struggle to score goals this season, but Morgan Rielly should have the green light to get involved offensively at every opportunity. That's good news for your fantasy team.
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
The Toronto Maple Leafs are probably going to struggle to score goals this season, but Morgan Rielly should have the green light to get involved offensively at every opportunity. That’s good news for your fantasy team.

39) Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

40) Adam Larsson, New Jersey Devils

41) Seth Jones, Nashville Predators

42) Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks

44) Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia Flyers

45) Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

46) Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars

47) Dan Boyle, New York Rangers

48) Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

49) Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leafs

50) Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks

51) Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders

52) Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres

53) Ryan Ellis, Nashville Predators

54) Mathew Dumba, Minnesota Wild

55) Nick Leddy, New York Islanders

56) Matt Niskanen, Washington Capitals

57) Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild

58) Trevor Daley, Chicago Blackhawks

59) Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames

* 60) T.J. Brodie, Calgary Flames (hand)

61) Johnny Boychuk, New York Islanders

62) Tyler Myers, Winnipeg Jets

63) Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers

64) Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets

65) Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets

66) Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs

67) Cody Ceci, Ottawa Senators

68) Simon Despres, Anaheim Ducks

69) Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins

70) Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes

71) Marek Zidlicky, New York Islanders

72) Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens

73) Andrej Sekera, Edmonton Oilers

74) Tobias Enstrom, Winnipeg Jets

75) Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild

76) Dmitry Kulikov, Florida Panthers

(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports) Consider Patrick Wiercioch of the Ottawa Senators as a sleeper pick this season. He made big strides last season and finished off on the power play alongside Erik Karlsson in the playoffs. He'll be 25 when the season starts and his career year actually came during the 2012-13 lockout-shortened campaign when Wiercioch produced 19 points in 42 games. You can basically double that for an 82-game season, and I could see him nearing 40 points this season.
(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)
Consider Patrick Wiercioch of the Ottawa Senators as a sleeper pick this season. He made big strides last season and finished off on the power play alongside Erik Karlsson in the playoffs. He’ll be 25 when the season starts and his career year actually came during the 2012-13 lockout-shortened campaign when Wiercioch produced 19 points in 42 games. You can basically double that for an 82-game season, and I could see him nearing 40 points in 2015-16.

77) Patrick Wiercioch, Ottawa Senators

78) Marco Scandella, Minnesota Wild

79) Michael Stone, Arizona Coyotes

80) Kevin Connauton, Columbus Blue Jackets

81) Calvin de Haan, New York Islanders

82) Oscar Klefbom, Edmonton Oilers

83) Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils

84) Brandon Gormley, Colorado Avalanche

85) Adam Clendening, Pittsburgh Penguins

86) Ryan Murphy, Carolina Hurricanes

87) Eric Gelinas, New Jersey Devils

88) Brayden McNabb, Los Angeles Kings

89) Jon Merrill, New Jersey Devils

90) Nathan Beaulieu, Montreal Canadiens

91) Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks

92) Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning

93) Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks

94) Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues

95) Paul Martin, San Jose Sharks

96) Francois Beauchemin, Colorado Avalanche

97) Christian Ehrhoff, Los Angeles Kings

98) Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay Lightning

* 99) Zach Bogosian, Buffalo Sabres (lower-body)

* 100) Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings (foot)

101) David Rundblad, Chicago Blackhawks

102) Nikita Zadorov, Colorado Avalanche

103) Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals

104) Erik Gudbranson, Florida Panthers

105) Brendan Smith, Detroit Red Wings

106) Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) Yannick Weber won't be a sexy pick this season, but he might be a good one. The Canucks were utilizing him on their power play to end last season and he had some success in that role. So if Weber picks up where he left off, he could come close to doubling his 21 points.
(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Yannick Weber won’t be a sexy pick this season, but he might be a good one. The Canucks were utilizing him on their power play to end last season and he had some success in that role. So if Weber picks up where he left off, he could turn his 21 points into 30-some.

107) Yannik Weber, Vancouver Canucks

108) Jason Demers, Dallas Stars

109) Tom Gilbert, Montreal Canadiens

110) Chris Tanev, Vancouver Canucks

111) Kevin Bieksa, Anaheim Ducks

112) Karl Alzner, Washington Capitals

113) Andy Greene, New Jersey Devils

114) Kris Russell, Calgary Flames

115) Kevin Klein, New York Rangers

116) Matthew Carle, Tampa Bay Lightning

117) John Moore, New Jersey Devils

118) Jakub Kindl, Detroit Red Wings

119) Matt Bartkowski, Vancouver Canucks

120) Ben Chiarot, Winnipeg Jets

121) Matt Hunwick, Toronto Maple Leafs

122) Zach Trotman, Boston Bruins

123) Brandon Manning, Philadelphia Flyers

124) Jyrki Jokipakka, Dallas Stars

125) Christian Folin, Minnesota Wild

126) Connor Murphy, Arizona Coyotes

127) Nate Schmidt, Washington Capitals

128) Mark Pysyk, Buffalo Sabres

129) Chris Wideman, Ottawa Senators

130) Johnny Oduya, Dallas Stars

131) Marc Staal, New York Rangers

132) Fedor Tyutin, Columbus Blue Jackets

133) Dan Girardi, New York Rangers

Brenden Dillon
(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Brenden Dillon seemed to be coming on strong towards the end of last season with the San Jose Sharks despite finishing with only two goals and nine points. He’s definitely capable of doubling those totals and reaching 20 points for the first time in his young career.

134) Brenden Dillon, San Jose Sharks

135) Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings

136) Justin Braun, San Jose Sharks

137) Carl Gunnarsson, St. Louis Blues

138) Ian Cole, Pittsburgh Penguins

139) John-Michael Liles, Carolina Hurricanes

140) Braydon Coburn, Tampa Bay Lightning

141) Ron Hainsey, Carolina Hurricanes

142) Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oilers

143) Stefan Elliott, Arizona Coyotes

144) Joe Morrow, Boston Bruins

145) Ben Hutton, Vancouver Canucks

146) Colin Miller, Boston Bruins

147) Jared Cowen, Ottawa Senators

* 148) Thomas Hickey, New York Islanders (upper-body)

* 149) Dennis Seidenberg, Boston Bruins (back)

150) Luca Sbisa, Vancouver Canucks

151) Zbynek Michalek, Arizona Coyotes

152) Marc Methot, Ottawa Senators

Radko Gudas Lightning
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
It’ll be interesting to see how Radko Gudas rebounds from a serious knee injury and also how he fits in Philadelphia. Gudas should be a prototypical Flyer with a chip on his shoulder, but he can chip in offensively.

153) Radko Gudas, Philadelphia Flyers

154) Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning

155) Alexei Emelin, Montreal Canadiens

156) Martin Marincin, Toronto Maple Leafs

157) Matt Tennyson, San Jose Sharks

158) Paul Postma, Winnipeg Jets

159) Jake McCabe, Buffalo Sabres

160) Trevor van Riemsdyk, Chicago Blackhawks

161) Frank Corrado, Toronto Maple Leafs

162) Alex Petrovic, Florida Panthers

163) Klas Dahlbeck, Arizona Coyotes

164) Dylan DeMelo, San Jose Sharks

165) Joel Edmundson, St. Louis Blues

In Limbo

Andrew MacDonald, Philadelphia Flyers

Nikita Nikitin, Edmonton Oilers

Lubomir Visnovsky

Sergei Gonchar

Andrej Meszaros

 Prospect Watch

Derrick Pouliot, Pittsburgh Penguins

Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

Ville Pokka, Chicago Blackhawks

Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers

Mike Reilly, Minnesota Wild

Mirco Mueller, San Jose Sharks

Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues

Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg Jets

Anthony DeAngelo, Tampa Bay Lightning

Madison Bowey, Washington Capitals

Shea Theodore, Anaheim Ducks

Kristian Nakyva, Nashville Predators

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