How To Win Your Fantasy Hockey League – Defenceman


In the 21st episode of the Fantasy Hockey Hacks Podcast; Devon, Bruce, and John continue with a new series – How To Win Your Fantasy Hockey League! In the third episode of this series, we’re going to discuss fantasy-relevant defencemen for next season, including: bounce-back candidates, break-out candidates, which defencemen have been the most productive over the past three seasons (in terms of Fantasy Points Per Game), and much more! You won’t want to miss this episode, be sure to download and listen wherever you listen to your podcasts.


  • Henrik Lundqvist announces retirement from Hockey
  • Auston Matthews out with wrist surgery. Expected to miss start of training camp.
  • Joe Thornton, Jusse Saros, and Kevin Fiala all sign contracts

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Hockey News | August 15 – 22

August 12 | Joe Thornton signed a 1-year contract with the Florida Panthers for a league minimum $750K. 

August 12 | Jusse Saros and the Nashville Predators agreed to a 4-year $20M ($5M AAV) contract to avoid arbitration. 

August 13 | Auston Matthews will be out a minimum of 6-weeks after wrist surgery. Expected to miss the start of training camp. I do not expect this to affect Matthews ADP in drafts this fall. 

August 16 | Kevin Fiala and the Minnesota Wild settle on a 1-year $5.1M contract to avoid arbitration. 

August 19 | The Arizona Coyotes will need to vacate Gila River Arena at the end of 2020-2021. The city of Glendale stated publicly that they will not be renewing the lease. Truth or negotiation tactic? Where do the Yotes okay in 2022-2023? 

August 20 | Henrik Lundqvist announces his retirement officially. Simply one of the best goaltenders over the past decade or more. He was a workhorse fantasy goalie for a long time.

Career Numbers (15 years):

  • 459-310-96
  • 2.43 GAA 
  • .918 SV%
  • 64 shutouts 

Playoff Career (130 Games)

  • 61-67 
  • 2.30 GAA 
  • .921 SV% 
  • 10 shutouts


  • 6th All-time In Wins (459)
  • 7th In Saves (23,509), 
  • 8th In Games Played (887)
  • 9th In Starts (871), 
  • 9th In TOI (51,816:51)
  • 17th In Shutouts 

How To Win Your Fantasy Hockey League | Guide To Defenceman


We have ranked the defencemen by fantasy points per game (FPPG) over the past three seasons. ESPN’s standard scoring system was used to calculate fantasy point totals, but does include hits, PIM, and blocked shots. As a rough guideline, we have broken the players out into “tiers”. 

Tier 0 | 2.85 FPPG+ – Franchise/Superstar Defenceman

Compared to the wingers and centers, there are more defencemen available in tier “0”. Defencemen that fall in this tier include: John Carlson, Cale Makar, Dougie Hamilton, Victor Hedman, Kris Letang, Alex Pietrangelo, and Adam Fox (among others). 

The top five defencemen will very likely be off the board by round 5, but there is plenty of value to be had, should you decide to wait until round 5 or later to draft your team’s stud d-man. Below are our thoughts on a few of these players for next season. 

📈 John Carlson, D, WAS | 2020 ADP: 16.7 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 3.73

  • Over the past three seasons only Keith Yandle (78) has produced more PPPs than John Carlson (74); and only Dougie Hamilton (38) and Roman Josi (34) have more even-strength goals than Carlson (31). In total, Carlson is the overall leader in terms of points (189 in 201 games played) and points per game (0.94). With 2.50 SOG/GM (13th among defencemen), 341 blocks (25th among defencemen), and 72 PIMs, Carlson provides some bonus category coverage beyond just points. With Ovi locked up, and his spot secured on PP1 (71% PP share), expect another solid season in 2021-2022. Also, his IPP has been very stable, remaining at or above 50% since 2014-2015. The only negative note here is that his secondary assist % was elevated from past seasons at 50%.  Over or Under on 15 Goals and 70 Points?

📈 Cale Makar, D, COL | 2020 ADP: 26.3 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 3.58

  • Cale Makar will almost certainly be the first defenceman off the board in drafts this Fall. With 44 points (8 goals) in 44 games played last season, Makar was the points per game leader for defencemen; and next year should be no different. Makar is the unquestioned power-play quarterback (68% PP1 Share) on a unit that features MacKinnon, Rantanen, Landeskog, and Kadri. Also encouraging, Makar’s shot rate jumped from 2.1 SOG/GM to 2.4 SOG/GM last season; his SH% was actually lower in 2020-2021 at 7.7% (versus 9.9% the year prior), his secondary assist percentage was low at 38.9%, and his IPP was stable at 53.7% (54.9% the year prior). Over or Under on 20 Goals and 82 Points?

📈 Dougie Hamilton, D, NJD | 2020 ADP: 40.1 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 3.22

  • No other defenceman has scored more goals (42) over the past three seasons than Dougie Hamilton. Ready for more good news? His shot rate (3.3 SOG/GM) and shooting percentage (5.6%) were both down last year compared to 2019-2020 (3.6 SOG/GM, 8.2 SH%), so he may have more to offer next season. The one caveat being that he is now in New Jersey, and not Carolina. However, I would expect that he will still receive close to 70% PP1 share; and playing with Tomas Tatar, Jack Hughes, and Yegor Sharangovich at 5v5 should still produce significant offense. Note, Carolina scored 105 goals last season and had a PDO of 1013; while New Jersey scored 102 goals last season with a PDO of 989. With some positive regression for New Jersey, Hamilton could provide similar production at a lower ADP.  Over or Under on 20 Goals and 62 Points?

📈 Alex Pietrangelo, D, VGK | 2020 ADP: 41.4 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.98

  • Alex Pietrangelo was fantastic during the playoffs this past season, putting up 12 points (4 goals) in 19 games; as well as 52 BlkS and 76 SOG (4.0 SOG/GM!!) while playing over 25 minutes per game! He also had a 56.5% PP share. Pietrangelo’s regular season was below-par by his standards, but most players need a season to adjust to a new team. Our expectation is that we’ll see Pietrangelo closer to his 3-year average of 52 points (16 goals). Over or Under on 16 Goals and 52 Points?

📈 Adam Fox, D, NYR | 2020 ADP: 123.3 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.86

  • Last season Adam Fox produced 47 points (5 goals, a 70-point pace) in 55 games enroute to winning the Norris Trophy. Fox saw his shot rate go up slightly in 2020-2021 at 1.9 SOG/GM (although he is not a volume shooter); but his SH% dipped to 4.9% (from 6.4), so we could see a bump in goals next season. With DeAngelo gone, Fox also saw a massive bump in PP% where he received 70.6% of PP1 versus 37.2% the year before. Fox’s secondary assist % was higher last year as well (54.8% versus 41.2%), so it’s possible we see assists pull-back slightly. However, his IPP was just 51.6% at even-strength, so there is room for positive regression there as well. His 3-year average is 59 points, 9 goals; but we expect his point totals to be closer to last year’s 70-point pace.  Over or Under on 10 Goals and 65 Points?

Tier 1 | 2.50 to 2.85 FPPG – Elite Defenceman

📈 Darnell Nurse, D, EDM | 2020 ADP: 106.5  | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.85 

  • Darnell Nurse had a career year, and then he got paid for it. Nurse is the top-ranked defenceman in tier 1, thanks to his category coverage and even-strength production. Among all defencemen over the past 3 seasons, Nurse ranked 4th in PIMs, 5th in even-strength goals, 7th in even-strength points, 11th in Hits, 11th in BlkS, and 15th in SOG/GM. With Barrie and Bouchard (and Klefbom previously) on the roster, Nurse will very likely only receive PP2 duties; and that is the only thing stopping him from being a “Tier 0” or true #1 fantasy d-man. Over or Under on 15 Goals and 45 Points?

📈 Aaron Ekblad, D, FLA | 2020 ADP: 133.6  | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.49 

  • Aaron Ekblad was on a career-best points per game pace at 0.63 pts/gm before going down with injury. Ekblad saw 72.4% share of PP1, cementing his place as the unquestioned #1 d-man in Florida. He also obliterated his career shot rate producing 2.9 SOG/GM compared to his career average of 2.4 SOG/GM and his 3-year average of 2.3 SOG/GM. If Ekblad can stay healthy, expect at least 50 points next season on what should be an absolute fantasy juggernaut next season. Over or Under on 16 Goals and 50 Points?

📈 Charlie McAvoy, D, BOS | 2020 ADP: 109.3  | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.44 

  • On pace for 48 points (0.59 pts/gm, highest rate of his career), Charlie McAvoy was another defenceman that had a  career-best season with 30 points (5 goals) in 51 games played. McAvoy put up his highest shot rate to date at 1.8 SOG/GM, and despite a depressed shooting percentage (5.4%) relative to his career (6.9%) and 3-year averages (6.3%) he managed to produce career numbers. The expectation from most fantasy managers and analysts is that McAvoy should take over PP1 duties with Marchand, Pastrnak, and Bergeron; which will definitely boost his fantasy stock next season. Before this year, McAvoy had never seen more than a 37% PP share, but last season he received a career-high at 41.6%. In the playoffs, McAvoy had 12 points in 11 games; and 8 of those 12 points were on the power-play! McAvoy received a 67.3% PP share (3:03 PPTOI), played 26:39 per game, and had an IPP of 52.2. Safe to say we should see McAvoy on PP1 next year.  Over or Under on 8 Goals and 50 Points?

📈 Zach Weresnki, D, COL | 2020 ADP: 86.9  | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.55 

  • Over the past 3 seasons, Zach Werenski ranks 4th in even-strength goals; behind only Dougie Hamilton, Roman Josi, and John Carlson. Lingering injuries last season played a part in Werenski’s reduced production, particularly his shot rate at 2.3 SOG/GM (versus 3.0 SOG/GM the year before). With Seth Jones being traded to Chicago, PP1 duties will fall to Werenski, and it sounds like he is motivated to show he is the #1 in CBJ. With Adam Boqvist as his partner, along with the newly acquired Jackub Voracek, Jack Roslovic, and Patrick Laine at 5v5; we can expect some solid fantasy numbers from Werenski. Note, not a huge contributor of peripheral categories (Hits, Blks, PIMs). 3-year average is 48 points, 17 goals, 198 SOG (2.4 SOG/GM). Over or Under on 20 Goals and 50 Points?

📈 Miro Heiskanen, D, DAL | 2020 ADP: 64.6  | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.08 

  • Miro Heiskanen had his breakout during the 2019-2020 playoffs where he put up 26 points (6 goals, 79 point-pace) in 27 games. He followed that up with another average (for him) type season, producing 27 points (8 goals, 40-point pace) in 55 games. The problem for Heiskanen is that John Klingberg still receives a fair share of PP1. Although Heiskanen did see a 57.9% PP share (has gone up steadily the past three seasons) last year, so it appears that Dallas is moving him closer to true #1 d-man status. Expect Heiskanen to go a bit higher than his 2020 ADP; but also expect to see a boost in production. Dallas should have a healthy Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, along with break-out Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski. The addition of Ryan Suter should also allow Heiskanen to stretch his legs offensively, and offload some of the defensive responsibility. Over or Under on 12 Goals and 50 Points?

Tier 2 | 2.00 to 2.50 FPPG – Top 4 Defenceman

📈 Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN | 2020 ADP: 140.3 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.42

  • Jared Spurgeon saw a dip in overall shot rate (1.7 SOG/GM vs. 1.8 and 1.9 the previous two seasons) and shooting percentage (7.4 SH% vs 9.2 3-year avg. SH%) last season. However, he received 54.1% of PP1 time last year, the most he has received since 2012-2013; and he can routinely be expected to produce close to 150 BlkS, 150 SOG, 85 Hits, and roughly 40 points. Spurgeon is a good to great value pick based on his ADP, PP deployment, and the young talent around him.  Over or Under on 12 Goals and 42 Points?

📈 Vince Dunn, D, SEA | 2020 ADP: 201.0 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 1.97

  • Vince Dunn was buried on the depth chart in St. Louis, but still managed to show some offensive upside last season (0.47 pts/gm, 38 point pace). With a new home in Seattle, and the opportunity for more playing time (particularly on the power play); Dunn is poised for a break-out season. In the 3rd/4th quarter of last season, Dunn had a stretch of games where he put up 11 points (3 goals) in 16 games (56-point pace) while playing under 20 minutes and around 1:35 on the power play. Keep an eye on his usage during training camp before drafts this fall. Over or Under on 12 Goals and 40 Points?  

📈 Mackenzie Weegar, D, FLA | 2020 ADP: N/A | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.21

  • Mackenzie Weegar led all defencemen in even-strength points in 2020-2021 (3rd at 5v5), finishing the season with 36 points (6 goals, 55 point-pace over 82 GP), 101 SOG (1.9 SOG/GM), 118 Hits, 45 PIMs, +29, 83 Blks, 22:07 ATOI. Expect him to play with Aaron Ekblad 5v5, along with Alexander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, and Carter Verhaeghe! He may also get PP2 time with Patric Hornqvist, Verhaeghe, Owen Tippett, Mason Marchment, and Frank Vatrano; but don’t bank on huge power-play production from Weegar. Over or Under on 8 Goals, 45 Points?  

📈 Filip Hronek, D, DET | 2020 ADP: 158.9 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.20

  • In general, Detroit is not the most appealing fantasy destination. However, Filip Hronek has been deployed as the #1 defenceman in Detroit (23+ minutes per game, 54%+ PP1) and had the best CF% among  Red Wing defenseman, while playing the toughest competition. Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi should both be healthy to start the season, and the newly acquired Jakub Vrana should play on that top line as well; providing some very good offensive options for Hronek to work with 5v5, and on the power play. Hronek also had a career-low SH% last year at 1.8%, after finishing 2019-2020 and 2018-2019 with 7.2% and 6.8% respectively. Over or Under on 9 Goals, 50 Points?

Tier 3 | 2.00 Points Or Less FPPG – Average/Replacement Level Player

📈 Jamie Drysdale, D, ANA | 2020 ADP: N/A | 2018-2021 FPPG: 1.34

  • We only have a small sample size with which to judge Jamie Drysdale; but, this is a player with pedigree (drafted 6th overall in 2020) and upside (70-point potential according to Dobber Hockey), playing for a team with limited offensive options on defence. So based on opportunity alone, he is probably worth a look late in your draft. In 24 games last season, Drysdale played just under 20 minutes and received a 52.2% share of PP1. Despite low shot volume (1.2 SOG/GM), Drysdale managed to score three goals, and was on pace for 27 points over 82 GP. Worth a last-round flyer, or at the very least, keep on your watchlist early in the season. Odds Shark has Drysdale at +2000 to win the Calder. Caufield is the favourite at +115. Over or Under on 10 Goals and 30 Points?

📈 Evan Bouchard, D, EDM | 2020 ADP: N/A | 2018-2021 FPPG: N/A

  • Evan Bouchard is another offensively-gifted defenceman with high-upside; but where Drysdale should have ample opportunity, Bouchard is going to have to fight for playing time. With Barrie being re-signed it is unlikely that we see Bouchard get top power-play minutes, so most of his production will need to come at 5v5. Bouchard has been training with Nurse this summer, so our hope would be that he can work his way up to top-pairing minutes with Nurse. This would at least provide even-strength exposure to McDavid and/or Draisaitl. A few encouraging notes: Bouchard’s shot rate jumped from 1.4 SOG/GM in 2018-2019 to 2.7 SOG/GM last season. His shooting percentage also came down to a more reasonable 5.3% last season, but Bouchard still managed to put up 5 points (2 goals) in 14 games played. Again, monitor deployment in camp and early on in the season.  Over or Under on 10 Goals and 30 Points?

📈 Adam Boqvist, D, CBJ | 2020 ADP: N/A | 2018-2021 FPPG: 1.34

  • Werenski will be the guy in Columbus, but by all accounts he is very motivated to show that his production was not due to Seth Jones. A motivated and healthy Zach Werenski can only help Boqvist’s production for next season. Boqvist was on a 37 point-pace last season, the problem is that he received 61% PP1 share, and half (8) of his total points (16) from last season were on the power-play, and his secondary assist percentage was at 85.7%. In CBJ, will probably be closer to 35% PP share, so his point production will have to come 5v5. With that in mind, he will likely start the season with Werenski on the top pair, playing with Laine, Roslovic, and Bjorkstrand or Voracek at even-strength. Likely just a streaming option, but could be a good last-round flyer; or league-winning waiver add if Werenski misses significant time. Over or Under on 6 Goals and 40 Points?

📈 Noah Dobson, D, NYI | 2020 ADP: N/A | 2018-2021 FPPG: 1.34

  • Noah Dobson has pedigree (12th overall pick in 2018) and potential upside, but the production has been limited in Long Island to date. The results are starting to show incrementally, but are far from fantasy-relevant at this point. Dobson saw improvement in most statistical categories last year; and now with Nick Leddy being shipped to Detroit, Dobson should assume more offensive responsibility. Keep an eye on him during training camp. If Pulock doesn’t figure out how to run the power-play, Dobson could be a good waiver-wire add later in the season; particularly in deeper leagues.  Over or Under on 5 Goals and 25 Points?

2018-2021 TOP 30 GOAL-SCORERS (Defenceman Only)

  1. DOUGIE HAMILTON, 42 Goals
  2. ROMAN JOSI, 39 Goals
  3. KRIS LETANG, 38 Goals
  4. JOHN CARLSON, 38 Goals
  5. ZACH WERENSKI, 38 Goals
  7. JEFF PETRY, 36 Goals
  8. BRENT BURNS, 35 Goals
  9. SHEA WEBER, 35 Goals
  10. JAKOB CHYCHRUN, 35 Goals
  11. SHEA THEODORE, 33 Goals
  12. JARED SPURGEON, 33 Goals
  13. VICTOR HEDMAN, 32 Goals
  14. MARK GIORDANO, 31 Goals
  15. DARNELL NURSE, 31 Goals
  16. AARON EKBLAD, 29 Goals
  17. MIRO HEISKANEN, 28 Goals
  18. MORGAN RIELLY, 28 Goals
  19. TYSON BARRIE, 27 Goals
  20. IVAN PROVOROV, 27 Goals
  21. VINCE DUNN, 27 Goals
  22. THOMAS CHABOT, 26 Goals
  24. MATT DUMBA, 24 Goals
  25. ERIK GUSTAFSSON, 24 Goals
  26. JUSTIN FAULK, 23 Goals
  27. DREW DOUGHTY, 23 Goals
  28. JOHN KLINGBERG, 23 Goals
  30. MATTIAS EKHOLM, 22 Goals

2018-2021 TOP 30 PLAYMAKERS (ASSISTS, Defenceman Only)

  1. JOHN CARLSON, 151 Assists
  2. VICTOR HEDMAN, 122 Assists
  3. BRENT BURNS, 122 Assists
  4. TYSON BARRIE, 119 Assists
  5. TOREY KRUG, 117 Assists
  6. KEITH YANDLE, 117 Assists
  7. ROMAN JOSI, 115 Assists
  8. KRIS LETANG, 107 Assists
  9. MORGAN RIELLY, 106 Assists
  10. MARK GIORDANO, 100 Assists
  11. THOMAS CHABOT, 99 Assists
  12. RYAN SUTER, 96 Assists
  13. JEFF PETRY, 92 Assists
  14. SHEA THEODORE, 92 Assists
  15. JOHN KLINGBERG, 90 Assists
  16. ERIK KARLSSON, 90 Assists
  17. DREW DOUGHTY, 90 Assists
  18. RASMUS DAHLIN, 89 Assists
  19. NEAL PIONK, 88 Assists
  20. QUINN HUGHES, 86 Assists
  21. SETH JONES, 84 Assists
  22. ALEX PIETRANGELO, 80 Assists
  23. SAMUEL GIRARD, 80 Assists
  24. DOUGIE HAMILTON, 79 Assists
  25. DARNELL NURSE, 79 Assists 
  26. RASMUS RISTOLAINEN, 79 Assists
  27. MATTIAS EKHOLM, 78 Assists
  28. RYAN ELLIS, 77 Assists
  29. ERIK GUSTAFSSON, 77 Assists
  30. ADAM FOX, 76 Assists

2018-2021 POWER PLAY SPECIALISTS (Defenceman Only)

  10. ROMAN JOSI, 49 PPP
  12. NEAL PIONK, 48 PPP
  16. CALE MAKAR, 41 PPP
  21. RYAN SUTER, 39 PPP
  22. JEFF PETRY, 37 PPP
  24. ADAM FOX, 36 PPP


  • Rasmus Dahlin, BUF 
  • Tory Krug, STL
  • Mark Giordano, SEA
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson, VAN
  • Rasmus Ristolainen, PHI
  • Tony DeAngelo, CAR
  • Nate Schmidt, WPG
  • Keith Yandle, PHI


  • Vince Dunn, SEA 
  • Evan Bouchard, EDM
  • Miro Heiskanen, DAL
  • Alexander Romanov, MTL
  • Charlie McAvoy, BOS
  • Jamie Drysdale, ANA

Complete Defencemen Rankings

We have put together a spreadsheet that organizes all players by fantasy points per game over the past three seasons. You can download a copy of that spreadsheet here.


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