Defencemen are a very interesting part of fantasy hockey, as some leagues know that they should be valuable, and have made them so, some leagues still undervalue how much they can do for you, while others have created a setup that make defencemen very hard to wring any value from. As a result, they can be very tough to generally recommend, needing league details to sort out specific value. However, there are a few key things to look for in defencemen for your fantasy team, and those are powerplay points, shots, and peripherals (hits/blocks/PIMs). The defencemen below will have some combination of those features, in addition to the added benefit of more games being played during the playoff weeks. The former two are possibly shorter term adds, being up for new contracts this summer, while the latter two below have a few years left on their deals, so you can reap the fantasy benefits for years to come.
Mikhail Sergachev – Tampa Bay Lightning
Cap Hit: $894,166 expiring in the summer of 2020
Not being an owner of Sergachev in any of my (double-digit number of) pools, he has flown a little under my radar this year. However, looking into him, he has been producing across the board, and could help a fantasy team regardless of league setup. He has put up a point every two games, while adding three hits+blocks per game, and over a third of his points having the added value of being on the powerplay. The young Lightning defenceman doesn’t shoot as much as we might hope, however that is unsurprising considering the offensive firepower surrounding him – he doesn’t have to be the focal point of the offence. Last season Sergachev added another gear in the last quarter, and we’re almost there again. Tampa is also learning from their mistakes last year, so expect them to get on a roll leading up to the playoffs.
Ryan Pulock – New York Islanders
Cap Hit: $2,000,000 expiring in the summer of 2020
Pulock is someone whose drum I will keep beating until you have him on your fantasy team, and then you can understand his calming presence. He provides points, shots, hits, blocks, and even chips in on the powerplay too. The 25-year-old rearguard has been remarkably consistent throughout the course of the year, and even when he’s not scoring the peripherals keep coming. At a $2 million salary, he’s one of the best defenceman bargains off of their entry level deal. Pulock’s ice time, both at even strength and on the powerplay have gone up from the first quarter of the season, and so has his scoring. He hit the 200-game threshold very recently and seems to be gaining a related comfort level in the league. As a result, he looks to be primed for a very statistically relevant second half of the season. Buy in if you can.
John Klingberg – Dallas Stars
Cap Hit: $4,250,000 expiring in the summer of 2022
Klingberg, like the rest of the Dallas Stars, started the year off poorly, scoring only four points in seventeen games, before missing another two with an injury. Since that point, the Stars’ top defenceman has been very good, managing 18 points in his latest 25 games, all while his team continues to sit right at the bottom in league scoring. With the early season slump still dragging down Klingberg’s numbers, his price could be lower in many leagues. Though this slick defenceman won’t help you in the peripheral categories (with just a combined 74 hits and blocks through 42 games), Klingberg does bring an offensive flare, providing a solid shot rate, and a generous number of power-play points (on a unit that is looking more and more dangerous). With Joe Pavelski looking a little more comfortable on that top unit (two goals on Monday), that would go a long way to boosting Klingberg’s numbers, as Pavelski is best known for being one of the best shot-deflectors in the game.
Mattias Ekholm – Nashville Predators
Cap Hit: $3,750,000 expiring in the summer of 2022
Ekholm has quietly been the most consistent player on the Predators at both ends of the rink. From someone who watches quite a few Nashville games, especially focusing on Roman Josi, I can tell you he is an excellent player, but I feel a little more comfortable with Ekholm in the defensive end. Ekholm is a very creative player when he holds the puck in the offensive zone, and also knows when to pinch to keep a play alive. These things don’t show up on the scoresheet though, so the fact that he adds two shots per game, two hits+blocks per game, and a point every other game, makes him someone worth taking a chance with as a depth add for a playoff run. If Ryan Ellis takes a while longer in his return from a concussion, then Ekholm will continue to soak up some extra minutes with the man-advantage as well.
If you have questions, comments, or article requests, you can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.
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