2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Top 20 Defencemen

What's Happenin'?

FP Sven back with another rankings article, this week we will be breaking down my top 20 Defencemen. I would still want most of these guys on my fantasy team, they just aren't as well-rounded as those in my top 10. Let's get right into it:

11. Quinn Hughes

This is a ranking that I want to be proven wrong about. I’m a huge fan of the changes Vancouver has made in the off-season, and they should have no issues being the #2 seed in the Pacific. That being said, Hughes approached benchable territory last season in leagues that included +/-. He does so many good things offensively, and that PPP aren’t going anywhere as long as he and Elias Pettersson get their contracts. Much like Barrie, you can grab him in banger leagues as long as you have a good mix of guys that will get you hits and blocks. If the +/- improves, Hughes will easily be in the top ten by the end of the season.

12. Alex Pietrangelo

I was a Pietrangelo doubter last season mainly because I wasn’t sure how splitting time with #8 on this list would go. Though he missed a decent chunk of time with injuries, the first-time Knight put up very solid shot and blocks numbers. There is no doubt he can back to the 40-point range with a lot of 5on5 production, but what worries me is the lack of PP production. Pietro only had four PP assists last season, as Theo lugged most of that top unit ice. The shots and blocks will be very solid, but the lack of PP time makes him a 2D for me.

13. Tyson Barrie

What a turn-around year for Barrie. I liked his chances of rebounding going into last season, but I did not expect him to lead all dmen in points. It sure helps when you’re QBing a power play with two of the best players in the world! The points, shots and PPP are here to stay, but he doesn’t offer anything exciting for bangers. I’d love to have him as a 2D in any format, but make sure you’re pairing him with more rugged dmen if your league includes hits/blocks.

14. Darnell Nurse

I didn’t expect a breakout season from Nurse last year, but frig did this guy do it all. 7th in Norris voting, 12th among dmen for points (T-2nd for Even Strength points), 4th in shots, and top 20 in hits and blocks. Though I expect him to come back down to earth a bit – mainly his offence with #13 on this list signing to an extension – Nurse is a very good 2D pick in banger leagues.

15. Miro Heiskanen

Fresh off signing his monster eight-year extension and with fellow blueliner John Klingberg in a contract year, I see this season being the passing of the offensive torch in Dallas. One full season removed from his dazzling Stanley Cup Playoffs performance, Heiskanen should be ready to make things like that happen over a full 82-game season. Adding Tyler Seguin back into the mix should provide him with quite a few residual points and STP, and there is no question he will play at least 23 minutes per night even with the signing of veteran Ryan Suter. Heiskanen is a great 2D to target.

16. Morgan Rielly

Rielly is likely the safest pick in this article. I don’t think we’ll see another 70-point season from him, but he has proven to be pretty steady for the Leafs. Rasmus Sandin may cut into his PP time as the season carries on, but Rielly does enough at even strength to remain relevant. I think he needs to do more in the peripheral categories to be any higher on this list, but I would be happy with him on my team.

17. Jeff Petry

No Weber? Hopefully no problem for Petry! Petry of the best first-half dmen last year and was such a horse for the Habs on the back-end that his eyes were bleeding! There is no replacing Shea Weber, but I expect Petry to be even more heavily relied on this season, especially in offensive situations. Sophomore Alexander Romanov will eat away at his PP time, but I am still expecting big things from Petry.

18. Jakob Chychrun

Chychrun enjoyed a lovely breakout campaign last season, making him one of the great free agent pickups mid-season. Though the peripheral stats are here to stay given the departure of OEL, we can expect a decent regression. The Yotes have traded away Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak in addition to OEL as they attempt to rebuild, and have also lost both of their steady goaltenders. Chychrun might be a pass in +/- leagues for this reason, but he will absolutely have an ugly dip in points. He is still top-20 worthy given that he’s their only guy on the back-end, but beware of the regression.

19. Zach Werenski

There may be better options available for 2D in leagues where +/- matters, but otherwise I love Werenski going into this season. He no longer has to fight over offensive zone starts and PP time with #9 on this list, and will be relied on heavily by this lottery-bound Blue Jackets squad. The TOI is very nice, his shot rate is respectable, and I am willing to wager that he will be involved in most offensive plays the Blue Jackets are able to make this season. Once again, I am big on Werenski in leagues where +/- doesn’t matter!

20. Drew Doughty

The 2008 second overall pick absolutely turned back the clock last season, and was one of my favourite bounce-backs to watch. Doughty is no spring chicken, but he will continue to play all situations this season for the Kings and put up a solid amount of points. The Kings are still a couple years away from contending again, but Kopitar and Doughty are very solid options for fantasy this season.

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