This list will cover the top 50 NHL defencemen in the NHL going into the season, with special attention on the top 10. Projected goals, assists, power play points and total points are included. Past performance and projections for the 2017-18 season are weighed carefully. Where ever possible, a player’s last three professional seasons are taken into account. In addition, injury history, power play time and projected line-mates are considered. Projections are based on 82 games except where otherwise noted.
The Top 3 Elite NHL Defencemen
Over the past three seasons Erik Karlsson has amassed 153 points in just 159 games played. That is just barely under point a game territory at 0.962 points per game. That’s an incredible rate for any NHL player let alone a defenceman. Karlsson should return soon from injury and he should be the first defender off the board in any points only fantasy league.
Projection for 2017-18: 15 G 60 A 26 PPP 75 PTS
Brent Burns follows just behind our number one spot by only one point with 152 points in 165 games played over the past three campaigns. His points per game average in that span is 0.921 making him the only other NHL defenceman over 0.900 P/GP. If it weren’t for the age difference between Burns (age 32) and Karlsson (age 27) they would almost be a tie. Going forward however, we would expect Karlsson to be more likely to continue at almost a point a game pace. Burns shouldn’t be too far behind.
Projection for 2017-18: 24 G 46 A 26 PPP 70 PTS
Victor Hedman‘s career high last season of 72 points in 79 games easily places him in the upper echelon of fantasy hockey defencemen. With a one year points per game average of 0.911 we expect his last three year average of 0.759 to continue to rise. This was no one off. If the other two above aren’t available at your pick, grab Hedman as he should provide close to equal value if not more.
Projection for 2017-18: 14 G 50 A 23 PPP 64 PTS
The Top 4-6 Elite NHL Defencemen
After the top three elite NHL defencmen there is a bit of a drop off in our projections for the next group. In addition there isn’t a big difference in the expected output for this second tier so if you miss out on one of the above you would do well to snag any of one of them.
The Predators number one defenceman has averaged 0.720 points per game over the previous three seasons. With fellow blue liner Ryan Ellis out until at least the new year, Josi will be relied on to power the offence from the defence in Nashville.
Projection for 2017-18: 13 G 44 A 38 18 PPP 57 PTS
After putting up 40 points in only 65 games as a rookie, Klingberg defied the dreaded sophomore slump with 58 points in 76 games. In year three there was a slight regression with 49 points in 80 games. With Klingberg manning the point on a very dangerous Dallas Stars power play we think Klingberg will return to form.
Projection for 2017-18: 13 G 43 A 19 PPP 56 PTS
6. P.K. Subban – Nashville Predators
Subban’s last three year average of 0.681 points per game is not far behind his teammate Roman Josi. Unfortunately, in the last two of those seasons he was limited to 66 and 68 games played which lowered his totals. Assuming a healthy 82 game season for P.K., he should get back up where he belongs.
Projection for 2017-18: 12 G 44 A 19 PPP 56 PTS
The Top 7-10 Elite NHL Defencemen
“Big Buff” has been a consistent producer over the past three seasons with Winnipeg. He has averaged right around 0.650 points per game each season. Expect him to be right around that pace again this year.
Projection for 2017-18: 16 G 37 A 15 PPP 53 PTS
One of the more exciting young offensive defencemen in the NHL, Werenski put up big numbers as a rookie last season. The Calder trophy finalist put up 47 points in 78 games played as teenaged NHL rookie. The sky is limit for this kid.
Projection for 2017-18: 12 G 40 A 23 PPP 52 PTS
While it may be true that Drew Doughty is a better “real life” defenceman than he is a fantasy defenceman, he has still put up consistently great numbers over the past three years. Doughty also has not missed a regular season game over that time. With a three year points per game average of 0.576 his projection remains as consistent as he is.
Projection for 2017-18: 13 G 34 A 24 PPP 47 PTS
10. Shea Weber – Montreal Canadiens
At age 32, Shea Weber may be in decline. That said his shot remains one of the most feared in the NHL and Weber will be relied upon night in and night out to provide offence for Montreal. Expect better than half a point per game from Weber.
Projection for 2017-18: 16 G 30 A 24 PPP 46 PTS
Fantasy Hockey Top 50 NHL Defencemen (11-20)
Fantasy Hockey Top 50 NHL Defencemen (21-30)
28. Ryan McDonagh– New York Rangers – 7 G 34 A 14 PPP 41 PTS
29. Colton Parayko – St. Louis Blues – 7 G 33 A 13 PPP 40 PTS
30. Brady Skjei– New York Rangers – 7 G 33 A 10 PPP 40 PTS
Fantasy Hockey Top 50 NHL Defencemen (31-40)
31. Ivan Provorov – Philadelphia Flyers – 8 G 31 A 10 PPP 39 PTS
32. T.J. Brodie – Calgary Flames – 7 G 32 A 12 PPP 39 PTS
34. Mathew Dumba – Minnesota Wild – 12 G 26 A 14 PPP 38 PTS
35. Jake Gardiner – Toronto Maple Leafs – 8 G 30 A 13 PPP 38 PTS
36. Morgan Rielly – Toronto Maple Leafs – 9 G 28 A 16 PPP 37 PTS
37. Alec Martinez – Los Angeles Kings – 9 G 28 A 12 PPP 37 PTS
39. Jacob Trouba – Winnipeg Jets – 9 G 28 A 8 PPP 37 PTS
Fantasy Hockey Top 50 NHL Defencemen (41-50)
41. Jake Muzzin – Los Angeles Kings – 9 G 27 A 12 PPP 36 PTS
42. Justin Schultz – Pittsburgh Penguins – 7 G 29 A 14 PPP 36 PTS
43. Alex Goligoski – Arizona Coyotes – 5 G 31 A 7 PPP 36 PTS
45. Dion Phaneuf – Ottawa Senators – 8 G 24 A 15 PPP 32 PTS
46. Dmitry Orlov – Washington Capitals – 7 G 25 A 6 PPP 32 PTS
47. Johnny Boychuk – New York Islanders – 8 G 24 A 5 PPP 32 PTS
48. David Savard – Columbus Blue Jackets – 8 G 24 A 11 PPP 32 PTS
49. Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins – 8 G 22 A 5 PPP 30 PTS
50. Sami Vatanen – Anaheim Ducks – 5 G 24 A 13 PPP 29 PTS
Others to consider: Charlie McAvoy, Josh Morrissey, Hampus Lindholm, Aaron Ekblad, Calvin de Haan, Anton Stralman, Adam Larsson, Shea Theodore, Thomas Chabot, Jaccob Slavin, Tyler Myers, Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson, Travis Hamonic, Ryan Pulock
SAN JOSE, CA – JANUARY 05: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks looks on during the game against the Minnesota Wild at SAP Center on January 5, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)