I have a few general rules when it comes to building a team in a fantasy hockey keeper league. One of the more important ones is to not build beyond a two or three year scope. You are not building a real NHL club, and too often fantasy hockey poolies place an emphasis on youth and prospects over proven veterans with gas still left in the tank. So using my general rule, take a look at your team(s). Can you realistically say you will have a shot at winning the league at some point within the next two or three seasons? If not, time to scrap the rebuild and start adding proven NHL talent.
Keeping my rule in mind, I compiled a list of my top ten keeper league defensemen to own (assuming standard keeper league rules and scoring categories). Using the two or three season scope, I had to balance proven production with young players on the verge of breaking out. I hope you enjoy!
1. Mike Green – Washington Capitals
Contract: $5.25 million/season, signed through 2011-12
Quite simply, Green is the best pure offensive defenseman the NHL has seen since Paul Coffey. He is in a great situation in Washington, but I wouldn't expect his production to drop off significantly if he was playing elsewhere. His skating, puck movement, and offensive instincts are all elite, and he is rapidly improving his defensive zone play as well. He is far and away the most valuable fantasy defenseman, and the only question surrounding Green is – how high can he go? 80 points? 90? 100?
One year upside: 85 points
Three year upside: 90 points
2. Drew Doughty – Los Angeles Kings
Contract: $3.475 million/season (including bonuses), signed through 2010-11
In only his second season in the NHL, Doughty has quickly emerged as one of the league's best blue liners. He is the backbone of the surging Kings, playing heavy minutes in all key situations. His 59 points this season represent a massive 32-point increase from 2008-09. His 16 goals were second best in the league, trailing only Green (who finished the season with 19). Doughty is more multi-dimensional than Green, which means he will see more time on the penalty kill throughout his career. His offensive game has developed so quickly over the course of the past season, which makes his ultimate upside is tough to pinpoint. Could be become a 70 or