Picking Erik Karlsson in the 1st round of your fantasy hockey draft is definitely still a good pick. He puts up points equivalent to the top forwards and hardly ever gets injured. He also captains Ottawa’s power play and brings in a sizeable amount of power-play points. He’ll even get you some penalty minutes. In a small poll we recently ran on our Twitter page, Erik Karlsson is still the most popular choice for defenseman that will get the most points in the season.
— HockeyBabble.com (@HockeyBabble) August 7, 2016
However time has changed and Erik does not sit at the top of the rankings by himself anymore. Over recent years, other defenseman have caught up to him. In addition, the game is evolving and puck moving offensive defenseman are becoming more common.
Back in the day, Erik Karlsson would get almost 20 points above the second most point producing defenseman. In 2013-2014, he got 13 points more than Duncan Keith and 18 points more than Shea Weber. In 2011-2012, he got 25 points more than both Brian Campbell and Dustin Byfuglien.
But now in the last 2 seasons, players have caught up to him. In 2014-2015, both Brent Burns and P.K. Subban were only 6 points behind Karlsson. In last year’s season, Brent Burns was still not that far off from him. This time 7 points behind.
So what does this mean for fantasy hockey. It means you do not have to use your top pick on picking Eric Karlsson. You can save it for a top center or even a goalie depending on your strategy and still get a very productive defenseman in the 2nd to 4th rounds.
Other options that you could pick in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th rounds:
P.K. Subban recently got traded to the Nashville Predators. I think this will definitely help his game out as the West style of play is a little more open and faster. In addition, Nashville has wanted to get more offensive over the last couple of seasons and getting Subban is going to help them. He will definitely be putting up points this season, especially with three really good players that he can pass to in Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and James Neal.
Brent Burns is coming off a monster season and I really do not see a reason why he cannot produce like how he did last year. In addition, San Jose hasn’t change much either. So as long as he’s healthy, he should be right up there with Karlsson once again. I really doubt he will be gone in the 1st round in leagues with 10 – 14 teams. You can probably pick him up in the 2nd round.
Kris Letang is a beautiful skater and can get into the rush pretty quick. Last year was quite a year, as he got the most points ever in a season at 67 and also won a Stanley Cup. He seems reinvigorated and full of energy. Surely does not seem like all his concussions are slowing him down. I find people do not consider him a top defenseman as much but definitely keep an eye out for him if he is still around after round 3. Playing with Crosby, Malkin and Kessel is definitely a good thing.
John Klingberg is the latest defenseman stud to come out of Sweden. He’s already had 2 very productive seasons in the NHL and has gained the offensive defenseman label for the Dallas Stars.
In the 2014-2015 season, Carlson was tied for fifth in points (55) and for fourth in assists (43) among NHL defensemen. Due to injury, he only had 39 points last season. Had he not been injured, he would have gotten around 50 to 60 points once again. This year he should have no problems getting 50 to 60 points while maintaining a solid +/-, especially with Washington’s offence. You could probably pick him in mid to even later rounds as he is very undervalued.
Almost made the list
If Shea Weber was not traded to the Montreal Canadiens, I would have no problems picking Roman Josi early in the draft. He has become one of the best defenseman in the league and is very underrated since he plays in a small market city. However, I think there is a little bit of a risk now that P.K. Subban is there. We just don’t know yet who will be playing with who and what the impact will be on Josi’s playing time and role. If he plays with Subban, I see Josi being forced to stay back and play more defence. Hopefully, Subban and Josi play on 2 different lines. Either way, he’s still going to put up points and he won’t hurt your +/-. When your ready to start drafting defensemen, definitely keep an eye out for him.