Don't forget about defensemen on draft day
|Since 2005-06, Dan Boyle is tied for sixth among all defensemen in goals (39), 18 of those on the power play. Watch Dan Boyle highlights|
You grabbed your No. 1 goaltender early. You've selected a few potential 40-goal scorers, and you're feeling like this could be the year you finally win your fantasy league. What, or whom, could bring you that much closer to glory?
Dion Phaneuf, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Gonchar…but hurry, they'll be off the board faster than you can say slapshot.
Stud offensive defensemen are few and far between, and some are worthy of a second-round pick, depending on the size of your league and how scoring is calculated.
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(Statistics for 2007-08 include NHL appearances only; All projected 2008-09 statistics are based on an 82-game schedule)
What's this? Brian Campbell is leaving for big money in Chicago? No problem! GM Doug Wilson brought in somebody even better. Personally, I can't wait to watch this stud offensive defenseman light up the West in teal and black. A freak wrist injury marred his 2007-08, one season after he scored 20 goals for the first time and had career-highs in assists (43) and points (63). Since 2005-06, Boyle is tied for sixth among all defensemen in goals (39), 18 of those on the power play.
2007-08: 37 games, 4-21-25 (9-47-56 prorated for 82 games; with Tampa Bay)
2008-09 projection: 23-52-75
2. Dion Phaneuf, Calgary
Entering his fourth season, Phaneuf has seen his assists and points rise each season while becoming a consistent 17-20 goal scorer. Since 2005-06, he leads all NHL defensemen in goals (54), power-play goals (39) and shots (735), and is tied for sixth in points (159). Last season, he scored at least one point in 41 games. Phaneuf has missed only three games in his career.
2007-08: 82 games, 17-43-60
2008-09 projection: 21-50-71
The Russian veteran has been among the most consistent offensive defenseman in the last three seasons, and in 2007-08 he placed second among all defensemen in scoring, power-play points (46), and power-play time on ice per game (5:38). Gonchar scored at least one point in 47 games, trailing only Nicklas Lidstrom. Since 2005-06, he is second in assists (153) and points (190) among all defensemen, and if you go back to 2000-01, his 111 goals lead all blueliners.
2007-08: 78 games, 12-53-65
2008-09 projection: 12-55-67
4. Sergei Zubov, Dallas
The Russian veteran just keeps chugging along, entering his 16th season, and still at a high level. A foot injury spoiled his 2007-08, but his 0.76 points-per-game average was fifth-best among all defenseman. Still an elite power-play quarterback, nearly half of Zubov's points came with the man-advantage. Since 2005-06, he is fifth in assists (131) and points (160) among all blueliners.
2007-08: 46 games, 4-31-35 (7-55-62 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 11-54-65
5. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
You're probably aware of Lidstrom's three consecutive Norris Trophies, but are you also aware of this streak? Six straight seasons of fluctuating point totals … 59, 62, 38, 80, 62, 70. Projecting is all about finding trends, and while there is no debating Lidstrom's place as perhaps one of the greatest d-men of all-time, he is 38, entering his 17th season and played an awful lot of hockey last season (98 games including playoffs). Where he won't fail you is plus-minus (plus 378 for his career). Since 2005-06, he is first in assists (173) and points (212), second in shots (655) and tied for sixth in goals (39) among all defensemen.
2007-08: 76 games, 10-60-70 (11-65-76 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 10-55-65
|Mike Green jumped from 12 points in 2006-07 to 56 points last season.
Watch Mike Green highlight video
After going 3-12-15 in his first 92 games in 2005-06 and 2006-07, Green exploded last season to lead all defensemen in goals. His jump from 12 points in 2006-07 to 56 last season was the biggest increase among all players in the League, and he scored at least one point in 37 games. Green also led all defensemen in overtime goals (3), tied for first in game-winning goals (4), was third in shots (234), seventh in points and tied for 10th in assists. He assisted on 15 goals by Alexander Ovechkin.
2007-08: 82 games, 18-38-56
2008-09 projection: 17-46-63
7. Andrei Markov, Montreal
First, the Canadiens lost Sheldon Souray, and Mark Streit left via free agency in July, but Markov remains to run the power play from the blueline. Last season he was tied for first in power-play goals (10), fourth in goals, sixth points and tied for seventh in assists among defensemen, and even scored a goal in his first All-Star Game. Markov led the Canadiens with an average of 24:58 of ice time per game.
2007-08: 82 games, 16-42-58
2008-09 projection: 15-47-62
8. Brian Rafalski, Detroit
The Dearborn, Michigan native's homecoming was a rousing success, as Rafalski tied for first in power-play goals (10), tied for third in plus-minus (27), tied for seventh in goals and assists, and placed eighth in points among all defensemen. He set a career-high in goals and tied his previous high in points. Rafalski scored at least one point in 42 games.
2007-08: 73 games, 13-42-55 (15-47-62 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 12-50-62
9. Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim
At least we know the smooth-skating Niedermayer will be around for the full season this time, but trying to predict if he'll be more like 2006-07 (79 games, .87 points per game) or 2007-08 (48 games, .52) is the big question. He plays in all situations and logs a ton of ice time. Niedermayer has scored 10 or more goals in nine of his 15 full seasons. Last season he scored at least one point in 21 games.
2007-08: 48 games, 8-17-25 (14-29-43 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 12-49-61
Campbell is bringing his high-scoring act to the Windy City for the first time after placing second in assists and tying for third in points among all defensemen. After a trade from Buffalo, he scored 19 points in 20 games for the Sharks, and scored at least one point in 45 games. Since 2005-06, he is sixth in assists (128) and 10th in points (154) among all defensemen, and has missed only three games.
2007-08: 83 games, 8-54-62 (with Buffalo and San Jose)
2008-09 projection: 9-52-61
11. Chris Pronger, Anaheim
Veteran NHL.com fantasy readers may remember that Pronger was my No. 1 d-man pick in last season's preview, and I still consider him an elite player, even if he's turning 34 on Oct. 10. He's working on a streak of four straight seasons with 12 or more goals, but his assists, points and plus-minus took quite a tumble in 2007-08. Pronger has 158 points, eight among all defensemen, since 2005-06.
2007-08: 72 games, 12-31-43 (14-35-49 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 15-45-60
12. Tomas Kaberle, Toronto
The Czech, entering his 10th season in the League, has to be considered one of the all-time franchise greats. His 402 points place him in the top 20 in Toronto history. On a smaller scale, Kaberle's 150 assists and 178 points since 2005-06 place him third in both categories among all defensemen.
2007-08: 82 games, 8-45-53
2008-09 projection: 10-50-60
13. Lubomir Visnovsky, Edmonton
The Slovak's trade from the Kings in the summer was a stunner because 60-point defensemen don't grow on trees. He's coming off a disappointing year, but Visnovsky did have two 17-plus goal seasons prior, and at 32 he's still capable of another. Since 2005-06, he is fourth in goals (43) and points (166), and seventh in assists (123) among all defensemen. Last season, Visnovsky became the fourth defenseman in Kings franchise history to reach 200 career assists, and scored at least one point in 36 games.
2007-08: 82 games, 8-33-41 (with Los Angeles)
2008-09 projection: 14-45-59
|Last season Zdeno Chara scored at least one point in 40 games.
Watch Zdeno Chara highlight video
In his second season with the Bruins, Chara set career-highs in goals, assists and points. He tied for second in goals and power-play goals (9), and tied for 10th in defensemen scoring. Since 2005-06, Chara is tied for second in goals (44) and power-play goals (28), and third in shots (623) among all blueliners. Last season he scored at least one point in 40 games.
2007-08: 77 games, 17-34-51 (18-39-57 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 19-39-58
15. Bryan McCabe, Florida
A groin injury and a broken hand hampered McCabe last season, preventing him from utilizing one of the hardest shots in the League. Now he gets to unleash it as the new power-play quarterback of the Panthers. Twenty-eight of his 39 goals since 2005-06 have come on the power play, tied for second among all defensemen.
2007-08: 54 games, 5-18-23 (8-27-35 prorated for 82 games; with Toronto)
2008-09 projection: 12-43-55
16. Mark Streit, NY Islanders
Streit's move from the high-octane Canadiens to the offensively underwhelming Islanders takes a bit of steam out of his breakout performance last season, when he placed third in points and tied for second in power-play points (34) among all blueliners. Streit's jump from 36 points in 2006-07 to 62 last season was the second-biggest increase among all defensemen in the League, and he scored at least one point in 43 games.
2007-08: 81 games, 13-49-62 (with Montreal)
2008-09 projection: 10-42-52
17. Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota
The Czech hasn't been able to match his sensational rookie debut of 2003-04, as those numbers (82, 14-39-53) remain his career-high after four seasons in the NHL. But Zidlicky is taking his game out of Nashville for the first time and the defensive-minded Wild are counting on his veteran experience as a power play-specialist. He is one of 18 blueliners to record more than 100 assists in the last three seasons.
2007-08: 79 games, 5-38-43 (with Nashville)
2008-09 projection: 9-43-52
If you drafted Burns last season, you hit a bonanza in goals, as he scored more than in his previous 185 games. The 6-5, 219-pound blueliner achieved career-highs in goals, assists, points, power-play goals (8, franchise record) and game-winning goals (4), with nine multi-point games. Among all NHL defensemen, Burns tied for fifth in goals and tied for sixth in power-play goals.
2007-08: 82 games, 15-28-43
2008-09 projection: 15-36-51
19. Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia
His first year with the Flyers saw a slight decrease in offense, but Timonen still contributed enough to lead the club in defenseman scoring (13th in the NHL), power-play assists (26) and average time on ice (23:34).
2007-08: 80 games, 8-36-44
2008-09 projection: 11-39-50
20. Sheldon Souray, Edmonton
Souray was to 2006-07 (26-38-64) what Washington's Mike Green was to 2007-08…the defenseman who has an astonishing offensive season that captivates fantasy pundits. A separated should requiring surgery forced Souray to miss 55 games and fall short of fulfilling enormous expectations in his first season with the Oilers. Since 2005-06, he's fifth among all blueliners with 41 goals, 28 of those on the power play, in 182 games.
2007-08: 26 games, 3-7-10 (9-22-31 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 16-33-49
21. Andrej Meszaros, Tampa Bay
The last piece to the dizzying puzzle completed by the new management of the Lightning, Meszaros becomes the No. 1, or at the very least 1A, blueliner. The Slovakian is entering his fourth season and will turn only 23 early in October. Meszaros has not missed a game since entering the NHL and has been remarkably consistent with point totals of 39, 35, and 36, but a breakout could be coming.
2007-08: 82 games, 9-27-36 (with Ottawa)
2008-09 projection: 12-36-48
22. Joe Corvo, Carolina
Corvo was on fire with the Hurricanes following his trade from Ottawa, going 7-14-21 in 23 games including scoring at least one point in 13 games, six multi-point contests and his first career hat trick. Along the way, he established single-season highs for assists and points. Corvo was tied for seventh in goals, 13th in assists, and 12th in points among all defensemen.
2007-08: 74 games, 13-35-48 (14-39-53 prorated for 82 games; with Ottawa and Carolina)
2008-09 projection: 11-37-48
23. Joni Pitkanen, Carolina
The veteran Finn is on his third team in what will be his fifth season. Last season a knee injury prevented him from continuing a streak of two straight 40-point seasons. Pitkanen did record at least one point in 21 games and was plus or even in 40 contests. He's trying to find the form that led to 13-33-46 with a plus-22 in only 58 games for the Flyers in 2005-06.
2007-08: 63 games, 8-18-26 (10-23-33 prorated for 82 games; with Edmonton)
2008-09 projection: 8-40-48
24. Philippe Boucher, Dallas
Two shoulder injuries wrecked Boucher's 2007-08 regular season, and fantasy players had big expectations after back-to-back seasons of 16 and 19 goals. He's a staple on the Stars' power play, where he scored 12 goals in 2006-07. Boucher is in the final year of his contract, and his motivation will be high to return to form quickly.
2007-08: 38 games, 2-12-14 (4-26-30 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 15-32-47
25. Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver
Bieksa succumbed to a deep calf laceration last season, costing him 47 games. Only one season prior, he led all Canucks defensemen in assists and points in his first full NHL campaign. In his abbreviated season, Bieksa led all team blueliners with 4:00 of power play ice time per game, and he scored half his points (1-5) with the man-advantage.
2007-08: 34 games, 2-10-12 (5-24-29 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 13-33-46
As he demonstrated in last year's playoffs, Kronwall can dominate at times, and he led all defensemen in postseason points (15) and plus-minus (16). The only thing that's held him back during the regular season has been a cranky groin. Still, he managed to score career-highs across the board as a top-four defenseman on the Stanley Cup champs.
2007-08: 65 games, 7-28-35 (9-35-44 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 12-34-46
27. Michal Rozsival, NY Rangers
The Czech has been a consistent performer since arriving on Broadway in 2005-06, and he's developed a goal-scoring knack with two straight seasons of 10 or more. Rozsival tied for seventh in goals among all defensemen last season with a career-high output. Since 2005-06, 16 of his 28 goals have come on the power play. Rozsival has missed only four games in three seasons with New York.
2007-08: 80 games, 13-25-38
2008-09 projection: 11-35-46
28. Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta
The Swedish import was a bright spot for the Thrashers, leading all team blueliners in assists and establishing a franchise single-season record. Enstrom also tied the team record for points by a defenseman in a season. Most encouraging is that Enstrom led all NHL defensemen in power play time on ice per game (5:44), a great sign that his offensive totals will be on the rise.
2007-08: 82 games, 5-33-38
2008-09 projection: 9-37-46
29. Shea Weber, Nashville
Knee and leg injuries cost Weber 28 games last season when it appeared he was primed to join the next class of offensive blueliners. He scored 17 goals in 2006-07 but contributed only 23 assists. Thirteen of his 25 career goals have come on the power play.
2007-08: 54 games, 6-14-20 (9-21-30 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 13-32-45
|Braydon Coburn's plus-17 rating led all players on the Flyers last season.
Watch Braydon Coburn highlight video
Not until a trade to the Flyers late in 2006-07 did Coburn begin to show the immense potential that made his the No. 8 pick in 2003. Finally able to play a full season, he set the bar rather high, and he won't turn 24 until February. It was Coburn, not Kimmo Timonen or Randy Jones, who led Philly defensemen in goals last season. And his plus-17 led all players on the Flyers. 2007-08: 78 games, 9-27-36
2008-09 projection: 9-36-45
31. Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix
Players in their 12th season are not supposed to score a career high in points, but that's exactly what Jovanovski did last year, and it was quite the surprise. The biggest factor, obviously, was that Jovanovski avoided the injury bug that led him to miss significant time each of the previous four seasons.
2007-08: 80 games, 12-39-51
2008-09 projection: 9-36-45
32. Jay Bouwmeester, Florida
The third pick in the 2002 Entry Draft is entering a crucial season, the final year on his contract before unrestricted free agency. It won't be easy for Bouwmeester to top his career-high goal total from last season, but it'll be in his best interest to give it a try. He also achieved a single-season high with four power-play goals.
2007-08: 82 games, 15-22-37
2008-09 projection: 12-32-44
33. Mathieu Schneider, Anaheim
Entering his 21st season, Schneider is sometimes the forgotten man on the Ducks, playing behind Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. But since 2005-06, he has scored more goals (44) than both teammates, and Pronger and Niedermayer only have eigth and seven more points, respectively, than Schneider. His 44 goals in the last three seasons is tied for second among all defensemen. Schneider recorded a plus-or-even rating in 32 straight games, the longest streak in the League in 2007-08
2007-08: 65 games, 12-27-39 (15-34-49 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 11-33-44
34. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh
Letang figures to benefit the most from the injury to teammate Ryan Whitney, which should be a boon to his power play ice time. As a rookie, the Montreal native showed a lot of skill and was even trusted to take shootout attempts, scoring on 5 of 8 chances.
2007-08: 63 games, 6-11-17 (8-14-22 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 13-30-43
With only one season of college completed, Johnson stepped right into the St. Louis lineup and nearly scored. 0.50 points per game. Among all NHL rookies, he tied for 10th in scoring and recorded two three-assist games. Johnson missed 10 games on with a foot injury.
2007-08: 69 games, 5-28-33 (6-33-39 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 8-35-43
36. Dennis Wideman, Boston
In his third season, Wideman achieved career-highs in goals, assists and points and gave the Bruins a great 1-2 offensive punch from the blue line with Zdeno Chara. He recorded a career-best seven-game point streak, the longest by a Boston defenseman since Ray Bourque in 1995, and scored at least one point in 33 games. Since 2005-06, Wideman is 20th among all blueliners in shots (443).
2007-08: 81 games, 13-23-36
2008-09 projection: 11-31-42
37. Sami Salo, Vancouver
The chronically injured Finn hasn't played in 70 games since 2003-04, but he retains one of the biggest point shots in the NHL. Since 2005-06, he is tied for 18th in goals (32) and tied for 13th in power-play goals (20) among all defensemen.
2007-08: 63 games, 8-17-25 (10-22-32 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 13-28-41
Last season, Blake's streak of nine consecutive years with at least 12 goals came to an end, but his offensive prowess can't be questioned. Now in his first year with the Sharks, he's part of a deep group of defensemen. Blake is turning 39 in December, so coach Todd McLellan may try to limit his minutes to keep him fresh and use Blake as a power-play specialist.
2007-08: 71 games, 9-22-31 (10-25-35 prorated for 82 games; with Los Angeles)
2008-09 projection: 12-29-41
39. Pavel Kubina, Toronto
Bryan McCabe's departure from the Maple Leafs may give Kubina a bit more playing time, especially on the power play, where he scored 18 points last season, second on the team to Tomas Kaberle. Kubina scored 10-plus goals for the fourth time and recorded a career-high in points.
2007-08: 72 games, 11-29-40 (13-33-46 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 12-28-40
40. Craig Rivet, Buffalo
At age 33 and in his 13th season, Rivet set career-highs in assists and points before being dealt to the Sabres after San Jose acquired Dan Boyle in a trade. He should challenge Jaroslav Spacek as Buffalo's leading scorer among defensemen and see significant power-play time.
2007-08: 74 games, 5-30-35 (6-33-39 prorated for 82 games; with San Jose)
2008-09 projection: 8-32-40
41. John-Michael Liles, Colorado
For the first time in his four seasons in the NHL, Liles failed to score double-digits in goals. However, he remained a force on the power play, recording 20 points (5-15), one behind Paul Stastny for the team lead. Twenty-one of Liles' 44 career goals have come with the man-advantage.
2007-08: 81 games, 6-26-32
2008-09 projection: 10-29-39
42. Brent Seabrook, Chicago
In his third season, Seabrook continued to progress with a career-high in goals, power-play goals (4) and plus-minus (13), and tied his career-high in points. Brian Campbell may be the big name on defense, but Seabrook has the higher ceiling.
2007-08: 82 games, 9-23-32
2008-09 projection: 10-29-39
43. Paul Martin, New Jersey
Martin inherited the power-play quarterback position from the departed Brian Rafalski last season, and should continue in that role in 2008-09. He led the Devils with 3:48 of power play time per game but managed only 14 man-advantage points (2-12), tied for fifth on the Devils. He led all team defensemen in assists and points, and was second in plus-minus (20).
2007-08: 73 games, 5-27-32 (6-30-36 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 5-34-39
|Ryan Suter has raised his point total each season since debuting in 2005-06. Watch Ryan Suter highlight video|
Slow and steady, Suter has raised his point total each season since debuting in 2005-06. With Mark Zidlicky gone to Minnesota, the path is clear for Suter to continue his development as a capable No. 3 fantasy defenseman.
2007-08: 76 games, 7-24-31 (8-26-34 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 10-28-38
45. Filip Kuba, Ottawa
The jury is still out on whether Kuba's 15-goal season of 2006-07 was a fluke, but now he'll get a chance to gun for that total as the Senators' top offensive defenseman after being dealt from Tampa Bay. Last season Kuba recorded a career-high in assists as well as his third season of 30 or more points.
2007-08: 75 games, 6-25-31 (7-27-34 prorated for 82 games; with Tampa Bay)
2008-09 projection: 9-29-38
46. Tom Gilbert, Edmonton
Hall-of-Famer Paul Coffey owns two less team records thanks to Gilbert, who scored the most goals and points by an Oilers rookie blueliner. The Minnesotan led all NHL rookie defensemen in goals and tied for 10th among all rookie skaters in points.
2007-08: 82 games, 13-20-33
2008-09 projection: 11-26-37
47. Duncan Keith, Chicago
Keith scored more goals in his third season than he did in the first and second combined (11). He also recorded a career-high in points. Keith posted an impressive plus-30 to tie for fifth in the League and placed second among all defensemen.
2007-08: 82 games, 12-20-32
2008-09 projection: 8-29-37
For the first time since making his NHL debut in 1996, Redden will play a game for a team other than Ottawa. What a change of pace will provide the veteran at this point in his career is the great unknown. Redden has scored 10 or more goals five times, with a high of 17, but hasn't done so since 2005-06.
2007-08: 80 games, 6-32-38 (with Ottawa)
2008-09 projection: 7-29-36
49. Chris Campoli, NY Islanders
Shoulder surgery robbed Campoli of the final 35 games of the season. He began 2007-08 in great shape with 2-7-9 in his first 9 games, but managed only nine additional points in the next 37 games before his injury. Now entering his fourth full season, Campoli should only get better following his growing pains.
2007-08: 46 games, 4-14-18 (7-25-32 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 10-25-35
50. Jaroslav Spacek, Buffalo
The Czech's best offensive season since 2002-03 was interrupted by shoulder, back and chest injuries. On a promising note, Spacek scored a career-high seven power-play goals and averaged 4:03 of power play ice time per game.
2007-08: 60 games, 9-23-32 (12-31-43 prorated for 82 games)
2008-09 projection: 8-26-34
The best of the rest…
(with projected 2008-09 statistics)
51. Paul Ranger, Tampa Bay (7-27-34)
52. Mattias Ohlund, Vancouver (12-21-33)
53. Adrian Aucoin, Calgary (8-25-33)
54. Ron Hainsey, Atlanta (7-26-33)
55. Dan Hamhuis, Nashville (7-26-33)
56. Cam Barker, Chicago (9-23-32)
57. Daniel Girardi, NY Rangers (9-23-32)
58. Kim Johnsson, Minnesota (6-26-32)
59. Matt Carle, Tampa Bay (7-24-31)
60. Christian Ehrhoff, San Jose (7-24-31)
61. Jack Johnson, Los Angeles (8-22-30)
62. Tom Preissing, Los Angeles (7-23-30)
63. Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim (6-23-29)
64. Randy Jones, Philadelphia (5-24-29)
65. Johnny Oduya, New Jersey (6-22-28)
66. Keith Ballard, Florida (6-21-27)
67. Tom Poti, Washington (4-23-27)
68. Stephane Robidas, Dallas (6-19-25)
69. Jeff Schultz, Washington (3-21-24)
70. Ryan Whitney, Pittsburgh (41 games, 6-17-23)
71. Anton Babchuk, Carolina (5-18-23)
72. Ville Koistinen, Nashville (5-18-23)
73. Mike Van Ryn, Toronto (5-18-23)
74. Marc-Andre Bergeron, Minnesota (6-16-22)
75. Teppo Numminen, Buffalo (4-18-22)