Is there a new number one this year? Read on to find out more…
The first edition of this list was put together last April, and it is something I am going to update at least once each season. 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 plan beyond a two or three year window. You are not building a real NHL club, and too often I see poolies place too much of an emphasis on youth and prospects instead of trying to add players who could help them win now. Using this 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 the two-to-three-year window in mind, I have compiled a list of the top 10 keeper league defenseman to own (assuming standard keeper league rules and scoring categories). Using the scope, the long-term upside of these players is balanced with their NHL readiness. I found this list particularly tough to balance using my three-year scope. There have been a number of talented young defensemen who have made immediate impacts at the NHL level, but there are also a number of veterans with at least two or three elite seasons of hockey left in them.
This list is in order, which means that I wouldn't trade the fourth player straight across for the fifth player, and so on. The one year upside is for 2011-12, and the three year upside is for any time between next season and 2013-14.
1. Mike Green – Washington Capitals
I toyed with the idea moving Green down from the top spot on this list for about… five seconds. This season has been a disaster for him, and his value hasn't been lower at any point since he broke out offensively three seasons ago. In addition to a multitude of injuries, Green looked neutered to start the season playing in Washington's more balanced (less offensive) system. If he was a Ferrari (I love car analogies), the Caps took out the V12 in Green and put in a V6.
Green has earned the right to stay at number one (for now). He is too dynamic, too skilled, and possesses too much upside to warrant putting any defenseman above him. If you own him, don't even think about moving him (violating the golden rule of never selling low). If you don't own him, toss out a few feelers.