The Top 10 players who hit and block shots…
Although a lot of leagues don’t use them, blocked shots and hits are two of my favourite categories in fantasy hockey.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that when I play hockey, I was never an offensive player, and much prefer blocking shots to taking them.
These are two categories that are designed to give more value to lesser-known players. And while it does, it takes a special breed of player to do both. There are tons of guys who will hit but don’t block shots (like Chris Neil, Milan Lucic and Dustin Byfuglien). On the flip side, there are plenty of guys who block shots but don’t hit (Kris Russell, Roman Josi and Trevor Daley).
So in fantasy hockey leagues that include hits and blocked shots, the following guys are worth quite a bit because of their rarity. Just a note, in this list, you’re going to notice this whole list is defenceman. That’s not by design, but because there isn’t enough forwards who block shots (Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Vitale lead the forward group with just 30).
Here are the top 10 players who hit and block shots.
10. Roman Polak
The Leafs are definitely a tough team on defence, as two Toronto players made this list and Cody Franson almost making it. All three are on pace for 200 hits (even taking into account Polak missing a month because of injury). Of course, part of the reason why they are so high is because the Leafs play a style of hockey where the other team always has the puck, leaving lots of opportunity for hitting and blocking shots. As for Polak, he’s been a great addition for the Leafs since they traded for him this past summer. So far this season, he has 83 hits and 51 blocked shots. His injury will impact his final numbers, but he will still be a valuable contributor once he returns.
The addition of Mike Weaver has had a negative fantasy impact on Emelin, who isn’t required to block as many shots anymore. Last year, Emelin blocked 127 shots in just 59 games (an average of 2.15 per game). This year, he has 39 blocked shots, just 1.70 a game, and is on pace for only 135 over 80 games. On the plus side, if not blocking as many shots means he stays healthy all season, that’s a bonus for Emelin owners, as he already has 73 hits, and is on pace for 253.
8. Mike Weber
I have to learn to stop being so surprised by the Buffalo Sabres. Each week, I post a new column, and I always find a Sabre makes the list and I am completely surprised by it. This week, that honour goes to Mike Weber. A solid stay-at-home defenceman who also contributes a lot of penalty minutes, Weber has been quietly racking up the hits and blocked shots. This season, he has 63 hits and 46 blocked shots and is on pace for 237 hits and 173 blocked shots.
7. Dan Girardi
Girardi is one of those quiet fantasy hockey players, who doesn’t get enough respect because he doesn’t have much of an offensive game. However, in leagues that include blocked shots and hits, Girardi is a star. Okay, maybe that’s a little overboard, but he does bring value to those leagues than he does any other league. So far this season, Girardi has 64 hits and 53 blocked shots.
6. Dion Phaneuf
I can hear the haters now. “Sure, he hits, but he goes for the big hit, leaving his defence partner all alone and allowing the other team a great scoring chance.” To that I say, “I don’t care.” At least, not for the purposes of this list. He hits, he blocks, and that’s all that matters. This season, he already has 68 hits and 48 blocked shots. Throw in his 11 points, his plus-10 (am I the only one shocked that it’s so high?), 42 pims, and 39 shots, and he’s been one of the best fantasy assets so far this season.
5. Jan Hejda
Jan Hejda isn’t on a lot of fantasy hockey radars, and with good reason. In nine seasons, he has just 126 points. However, he’s always been a solid contributor in blocked shots and hits. Look at his last five seasons:
2010-11: 152 hits, 158 blocked shots
2011-12: 142 hits, 134 blocked shots
2012-13: 96 hits, 102 blocked shots (in the lockout shortened-season, was on pace for 171 hits and 182 blocked shots
2013-14: 170 hits, 144 blocked shots
2014-15: 64 hits, 48 blocked shots (on pace for 218 hits and 164 blocked shots)
You know what you’re going to get with the Avalanche defenceman. It’s good to always be able to count on that sort of stability.
Seidenberg right now is at a perfect 50-50: 50 blocked shots and 50 hits. That’s not just because Zdeno Chara is out with an injury either. Last season, Seidenberg had 61 hits and 66 blocked shots in just 34 games, and the season before, 115 of each in 46 games (lockout shortened season). So if Seidenberg can stay healthy, there’s a good chance that he could break 200 in each category this year.
3. Zdeno Chara
Chara is one of the best in these two categories. He consistently puts up 100-plus in each one, plus contributes offensively as well. Last season, the Big Z put up 163 hits and 103 blocks. This year, he was at eight hits and 12 blocked shots in nine games before he suffered ligament knee damage. He may not finish in the top 10 in either category this year, but now that he’s due back on Dec. 11, he becomes a top 10 guy on this list.
2. Shea Weber
Weber is one of those reasons why I hate when guys say Erik Karlsson is the best fantasy-defenceman in the league. Points-only, no doubt. But in multi-cat leagues where there’s categories like hits and blocked shots? It’s not even close. Weber is a beast in pretty much any format, and already this season, he has 53 hits and 51 blocked shots. Those numbers put him on pace for 188 hits and 181 blocked shots.
1. Brooks Orpik
Orpik is the only guy who makes is in the top five in the NHL in both categories. His 90 hits rank him fifth, and his 64 blocked shots are third in the league. This is pretty much his only value in hockey pools right now, as he has zero goals, six assists and a minus-four (although his 22 penalty minutes are a bonus). It also makes Orpik more valuable in cap leagues, since $5.5 million for the next five years is hard enough to swallow. But as of this moment, he’s the best in the league when it comes to these two categories.
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