2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Top 10 Defencemen

What's Happenin'? Sven back with another rankings article - Top 10 dmen! If you missed out on 11-20, you can catch up HERE. These guys will do provide you just about every category! Let's get into it:

1. Victor Hedman

Much like his Conn Smythe winning goaltender, Hedman is the gold standard here and will be for at least a couple more years.

2. Cale Makar

Dude, where’s Makar?! It’s his turn to win the Norris this season. I expect things out of the Colorado Avalanche Revenge Tour this season, and Makar keeps getting scarier with every year he plays in the league. The 21 minute ATOI his rookie season had me a little worried he’d just be a one-trick pony, but the injury to Erik Johnson allowed Makar to lug minutes AND run the PP his Sophomore season. Exactly 50% of his points were scored on the PP and that production isn’t going anywhere with Nate Dogg and the boys up front.

3. John Carlson

As much as I am completely off the Capitals this season, Carlson’s offensive output will be consistent as long as Ovi and Backstrom are still playing. The STP and shot rate are almost automatic. This makes him a very safe pick much like Josi.

4. Adam Fox

The reigning Norris trophy winner isn’t going anywhere with how loaded this Rangers forward group and power play are. Fox exits the zone effortlessly and drives play as good as any top dman, and the absence of Tony Deangelo helped him build on his already impressive offensive numbers from the season prior. The shot and blocks numbers are very solid, making Fox a great 1D to target.

5. Aaron Ekblad

This may be a little high for the former first overall pick, but Ekblad would have absolutely received Norris votes last season had he not broken his leg. The departure of Keith Yandle leaves a vacancy for PP1, but MacKenzie Weegar’s breakout point totals were mainly at even-strength. Ekblad will shoot the puck and score at an elite rate for defencemen, play at least 25 minutes per night, and now the STP will be there this season. Ekblad is one of my favourites this year on the back-end, and should be a 4th rounder in all formats.

6. Roman Josi

It’s hard for a player not to regress after a Norris-winning season, but Josi is back and ready to tandem-carry Nashville back to the playoffs alongside Juuse Saros. The departure of Ryan Ellis might eat away at Josi’s 5on5 production as he will have a much weaker defence partner (assuming Ekholm-Fabbro is second pair), but it will result in an uptick in STP. The shots and blocks will be very nice given the minutes Josi will be playing, so he is a very safe pick for 1D.

7. Dougie Hamilton

Doug the Thug was in my top 5 last season strictly because of his ridiculous SOG numbers. Though he is in a less favourable situation overall in New Jersey, there is still a lot to like going into this season. The lack of a supporting cast should make for more 5on5 chances and offensive zone starts, and there is no doubt he will lug the PP ice time. Dougie is a solid 1D pick but I think I am off him this year, particularly in leagues with +/-. The Devils are making steps in the right direction, but they are still a couple years away from being competitive.

8. Shea Theodore

Theo made the offensive jump I hoped he would make last season, now it’s just seeing that over 82 games. Alex Pietrangelo absolutely popped off in playoffs and as long as he is healthy he will cut into Theodore’s 5on5 output. The shot rate is solid and I am confident Theodore’s PP time will remain the same, but without blocks he is only elite in offence leagues only. Regardless, I wouldn’t be mad with getting Shea as a 1D in re-drafts.

9. Seth Jones

This could be a gamble, but I think it would be well worth it if it pays off. If you use the eye-test like me, you would say Jones is a good defenceman. If you mainly use analytics, you may think he’s one of the most overpaid defencemen of our time. Hear me out: last year was the only time since getting to Columbus that Jones didn’t receive Norris votes. 0.5 PPG on a team that struggled to produce offence is respectable, and he was just one of THREE defencemen to have over 100 shots, hits, and blocks in the shortened season (Esa Lindell, Darnell Nurse).

Jones is joining a team that is absolutely STARVING for an offensive defenceman. He will almost certainly be QBing a power play that will have him teeing up Alex DeBrincat, or being teed up by Patrick Kane. This has new career high in points written all over it. I’m targeting Jones as a 2D in my keeper league, but will obviously take him as a 1D in re-drafts if I need to.

10. Kris Letang

One of the most overlooked fantasy defencemen in his generation, I had Letang much higher going into last season, but quite a few players that are far younger made such positive steps to knock him down a few. That being said, he is still top ten and an elite 1D option. The ‘injury-prone’ tag will forever follow him, but there is too much to love as long as Sid and Geno are still on his team. Letang doesn’t offer anything special in banger leagues, but the STP are immaculate and the SOG numbers are respectable.

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