Checking in on 2015's rookie defensemen at the quarter mark of the season.
As the quarter mark of the 2015-16 NHL season has come and gone, we look back to see which rookies have impacted from a fantasy standpoint. Which prospects are on the verge of a breakout? Which fast starters will likely regress as the season goes on?. In the final piece of a two part series, The Journey will evaluate rookie defensemen.
Colton Parayko – St. Louis Blues (2nd rated defenseman in Dobber’s Top 215)
2015-16 Stats: 27 GP, 5G, 9A, +12, 59 SOG, 3 PPP, 31 Hits, 43 Blocks
Anyone who expected Colton Parayko to be the leader in points by a rookie defenseman at this point in the 2015-16 season, stand up and take a bow. The young St. Louis blueliner has been a blessing for fantasy owners this season, consistently putting up solid numbers across the board from the defense position. Not only does Parayko rank top-40 among all defensemen in points, he is also top-40 in plus-minus (tied for first) and shots, which makes him a multi-category stud for fantasy owners at this point in the season. Parayko is on a 40-point pace playing alongside Carl Gunnarson for St. Louis at even strength and on the Blues first pairing powerplay unit with Alex Pietrangelo. There are no metrics that show a glaring recession in Parayko’s play at this point, and he is a player that should be able to reach the 40 point mark by the end of the season.
Colin Miller – Boston Bruins (9th rated defenseman in Dobber’s Top 215)
2015-16 Stats: 21 GP, 2G, 8A, +5, 34 SOG, 4PPP, 26 PIM’s
After moving on from defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the offseason, Colin Miller had a chance as a young player to grab hold of a top-four defensive spot within the Bruins lineup. Coming over in the Milan Lucic trade, Miller has immediately made an impact with Boston as a stabilizing force behind mainstays Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug on the Bruins blueline. Miller’s eight assists rank third among all rookie defensemen and his 26 penalty minutes rank first. Although he has missed the last three regular season contests with a variety of ailements, Miller looks poised to be a rookie defenseman that cap league-keeper owners should be able to rely on not only for this season but well into the future.
Shayne Gostisbehere – Philadelphia Flyers (5th rated defenseman in Dobber’s Top 215)
2015-16 Stats: 14 GP, 5G, 4A, +1, 31 SOG, 6 PPP
As a member of the “Core Four” that Flyers fans refer to when talking about their future blueline, the prospect affectionately known as "Ghost" has done wonders for the Philadelphia defensive corps in limited action this season. In only 14 games, Gostisbehere has recorded nine points, scoring five goals with six of those points coming with the man-advantage. Although there is plenty to be excited about with Gostisbehere, it would be illogical to believe that he could keep up his 16.1% shooting percentage, and he is certainly a regression candidate in the goal scoring department. The young defenseman, however, has impressed with the man adavantage, averaging almost three minutes a game on the power play as the lone defenseman on the first unit. Given the responsibility he has already earned in Philadelphia, it is evident that the time is now for Gostisbehere to make the most of his opportunity and lead the influx of talent that the Flyers blueline will be seeing in the next couple seasons.
One to pay attention to….
Noah Hanifin – Carolina Hurricanes (3rd rated defenseman in Dobber’s Top 215)
2015-16 Stats: 26 GP, 1G, 6A, -2, 36 SOG, 2 PPP, 23 Hits, 31 Blocks
After a slow start to the season, the 18-year-old Hanifin has been picking it up offensively as of late. Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters has trusted the young defenseman to play not only at even strength, but has awarded Hanifin with over a minute of power play time in 12 of his last 13 games. The former Boston College standout recorded his first multi-point game of his career in a 6-5 loss to Dallas on Tuesday and seems to be putting things together more and more each night. Since the beginning of the season, Hanifin has shown signs of brilliance on the Hurricanes blueline, but has only recently started to be rewarded for his efforts. Parlaying Hanifin’s on-ice shooting percentages (2.8% individual and 7.8% team) with his low PDO number (964), makes for a buy-low candidate for the rest of the season. If the young defenseman continues the type of usage he is currently seeing with the man advantage, he could end up as a top three scoring defenseman when all is said and done this season.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings.
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