Top 10 defensemen for the physical categories – hits, blocked shots and PIM…
A lot of big-name defensemen always seem to get the love when it comes to peripheral stats. But there are plenty of options out there if you desperately need hits, PIM or blocked shots. These guys won’t be confused with Shea Weber, Dustin Byfuglien or Kris Letang but they still provide plenty of value in many fantasy leagues. You don’t care about points with the players on this list.
I know there is some distaste from fantasy general managers when it comes to these statistics. Many believe PIM shouldn’t be counted as it negatively impacts an actual NHL game and hits and blocked shots isn’t “advanced” enough for many poolies. But fantasy leagues still use the categories so there is still plenty of fantasy GM who enjoy what these categories bring to the table.
Here are the top 10 defensemen for hits, blocked shots and PIM.
10. Adam Larsson
He’s not the offensive force that many were hoping for when he was traded to Edmonton, but he still has plenty of value with 22 PIM, 81 hits and 43 blocked shots going into last night’s game. Larsson is also averaging 20 minutes a game of ice time. That bodes well for him to continue producing in these categories.
Many of us laughed when Calgary signed Engelland a few years back for $3 million. But at least he has value in some leagues. Engelland was on pace for 79 PIM, 158 hits and 141 blocked shots before last night’s game. The pace for hits and PIM are higher than what Engelland normally contributes but it’s good that he’s contributing to these categories.
8. Roman Polak
Polak won’t be as prominent as some of the others on this list when it comes to PIM or blocked shots, but he makes up for it in hits. He already has 66 hits and is on pace for 267 in that category. He has the fourth highest hits-per-game of anyone on this list, but his value is impacted by the fact he still gets healthy scratched from time to time. He’s also on pace for 69 PIM and 138 blocked shots.
7. Ian Cole
Cole is on pace to break all sorts of personal bests this year: goals, assists, points and plus-minus. But he’s also on pace for career highs in PIM, blocked shots and hits. Cole currently has 23 PIM, 51 blocked shots and 58 hits. It’s helping that his ice time is up one minute a game from last year and three minutes from the previous two years.
There’s never been any doubt about Emelin’s desire to hit other players. His hits-per-game average is a little over his normal seasonal pace. But he’s also blocking more shots and taking more PIM than ever. Emelin has 29 PIM, 91 hits and 49 blocked shots through 25 games. He’s also playing regularly with Shea Weber, who is always a beast in all three of these categories, but doesn’t fall under the whole under-the-radar thing because of the fact he’s elite.
The nice thing about Hamonic, and the other guys ahead of him on this list, is that they are very consistent across all three categories and all have a shot to hit triple digits in each. Hamonic might kill your league in plus-minus (tied for fourth-worst in the league) but he’ll make up for it in other ways. He’s played just 21 games, but already has 40 PIM, 29 hits and 40 blocked shots. And his hits are actually significantly lower than what he’s paced the last couple of years.
This is a tough one since Forbort is a rookie (the only rookie to make this list actually). Is he excelling at these stats because this is his normal style of play? Or is a 24-year-old player doing everything he can to stay with the Kings and not be sent down? There’s no previous body of NHL work to judge on. But he is setting a good baseline to judge future years for. He has 34 PIM, 54 hits and 60 blocked shots and is on pace for 112 PIM, 177 hits and 197 blocked shots.
3. Dion Phaneuf
Phaneuf is no longer the type of offensive dman his cap hits demands. But he still has plenty of value in pools that count peripheral categories. He has 33 PIM, 52 hits and 53 blocked shots. But Phaneuf isn’t alone in Ottawa. There’s a teammate ahead of him on this list. And guys like Zack Smith, Chris Neil, Eric Karlsson, Cody Ceci, Marc Methot and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all provide value in at least two of these categories.
2. Radko Gudas
Gudas is such a stud in these categories that I dropped Brayden Schenn for Gudas in one of my one-year Yahoo pools as soon as Gudas’ suspension was over. I was a little worried at first as Gudas had just two PIM in his first 12 games. But he’s back to normal with 19 PIM in his last seven games. On the season, he has 21 PIM, 82 hits and 50 blocked shots. Gudas pushes the line so there’s no telling when he might get suspended again.
Borowiecki is the only player on this list to already hit the century mark in hits at 104. He’s averaging 4.2 hits a game. It’s no wonder with all those hits that he’s also been in a few fights and has racked up 42 PIM so far. His 36 blocked shots also put him on pace for 118 this year. And he does all this playing just 13 minutes a game.
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