All week, your friends at Puck Daddy drop some fantasy hockey knowledge on you ahead of the 2014-15 season.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators – Karlsson is still the best defenseman in fantasy hockey. By far. He is the Sidney Crosby of defensemen.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators – Weber has always been a good fantasy own, but his value in real hockey is absolutely elite. Now that the Preds have a more offensive-minded coach, Weber could well top 60 points and see his fantasy value match his 'real' value.
P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens – If you're not sold already, by the end of the 2014-15 season you'll see why he was given a $72 million contract.
Boom or Bust
Mike Green, Washington Capitals – It's rare when a defenseman tops 70 points. That's why Karlsson is so valuable. So when you consider that Green has done it twice and is only now in his prime, poolies will keep drafting him and hoping for a return to glory even five years from now.
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins - One injury after another and just when you figured it couldn't get any worse - last year happened. If Letang can play even 65 games he's a good bet for 60-plus points.
These next few players are the rest of the true fantasy stars on defense.
Victor Hedman – I wouldn't be surprised if Hedman finished second in defensemen scoring this year. His rise in production year after year has been steady and consistent.
Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes – Not only is the 27-year-old Yandle coming off of the second 50-point season of his career, but he also hasn't missed a game since 2009.
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks – I won't be drafting the reigning Norris Trophy winner this year because I don't value him at the 61 points he tallied last year. The last time he topped 60 points, he followed it up with three years of 45-ish points. Other managers will draft him very, very, very, very early. So I'll let them.
Christian Ehrhoff, Pittsburgh Penguins – I don't have to tell you what Ehrhoff's signing with the Penguins means in fantasy hockey. Do I? Three words: Ca. Reer. High.
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild – After averaging 27:16 per game in 2012-13, Suter took it one step further, seeing 29:24 per game last season. If anything, his numbers were hurt by the added workload, but he's still a lock to clear 40 points.
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues – Still only 25, Shattenkirk is coming off of career highs in goals, assists and points. Five of his 10 goals were game winners, too.
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues – Pietrangelo hit 51 points for the second time in his career. Even though he's taking on more defensive responsibility and letting teammate Shattenkirk shoulder the offense, he's still putting up big numbers.
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings – He may be 33 but he seems to be just getting started. Coming off the second best season of his career, Kronwall should have an easier time of it this year with a healthy Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, as well as the emergence of Gustav Nyquist.
Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars – Goligoski managed 42 points last season despite starting off the year pointless in nine games. Add in the fact that the Stars have more firepower now than they did last season and Goligoski is primed for a big year.
You know what you're getting with these guys…
Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers – With Kimmo Timonen out, the Flyers will lean heavily on the 36-year-old. Still plenty of gas left in the tank.
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks – Burns is back to defense this season and over an 82-game schedule he should be good for 50 points back there. The problem is, he doesn't play 82 games. Just hope for 70 games and if he can do that he can top 40 points.
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames – The 30-year-old set a career high with 47 points despite missing 18 due to injury. He played the toughest minutes and had low offensive zone starts, yet still managed an impressive +22.8 CorsiRel.
Dan Boyle, New York Rangers – The 38-year-old was starting to decline in San Jose, so we knew he was on his way out. So he signed with New York and now he can decline there.
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins – Chara's decline has been slower than Boyle's, but it's still happening. With Dougie Hamilton on the rise and Torey Krug looking good, Chara will probably be focusing more on his own end. Another 40-point season may not be in the cards.
On the Rise
These guys are well on their way to becoming perennial top defensemen in fantasy hockey, all they need to do is prove they can do it year after year.
Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers – A better supporting cast around him should see to it that Schultz bounces back this season.
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings – The Doughty who showed up for the LA Cup run may not be the same as regular-season Doughty. Regular-season Doughty is coming off four consecutive (pro-rated) 40-point seasons after posting 59 in 2009-10.
Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets – He made the team unexpectedly last season, but forced his way on through strong play. By the end of the campaign, Trouba was logging over 25 minutes a game. He puts up points whether he's on the top power-play unit or not.
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers – A big breakout season was followed by a huge playoff performance. His 17 playoff points were even more impressive when you consider 14 of them were in the last 11 games - you know, the ones that mattered?
Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs – With Toronto focusing more on puck-possession, the leash will be taken off one of the better puck-possession players. Look for big things from Gardiner.
John Carlson, Washington Capitals – Coach Barry Trotz had his favorites in Nashville - and played the hell of them. Carlson will be Trotz's new Shea Weber.
Torey Krug, Boston Bruins – Fourth in rookie scoring and a plus-18 to boot. Krug is a whole lotta talent packed inside a 5-9 frame.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix Coyotes – Ekman-Larsson continues to evolve as an all-around defenseman, facing the toughest competition and still posting 44 points. There's still another gear here, folks.
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators - Josi holds a bit of risk in that the last coach loved pairing him up with Shea Weber. If Peter Laviolette feels differently, Josi could be looking at 30 or 35 points while Ryan Ellis or Seth Jones get the sweet assignment.
Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche – Barrie started with three points in 17 games and finished with 35 in 47 games. His ice time rose accordingly and he enters this season red hot (assuming he signs a contract in time).
Here are some boom-or-bust picks. These guys have the potential to do extremely well. But they either haven't done it in recent years or they don't have any real track record of big numbers.
Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames – Wideman has had back-to-back weak seasons, but that may be more of a reflection of the team around him. Then again, did the team around him get a whole lot better this off-season?
Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes – I have a lot of confidence that Sekera can repeat his 44 points from a year ago, but many poolies do not. After all, he's 28 now and in his first seven seasons his career high was 29 points. But he's the real deal.
Tobias Enstrom, Winnipeg Jets – Defines the term 'mystery'. What the hell happened? Drafting Enstrom next month will be like throwing a dart. Just hope your aim is good.
Jack Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets – His numbers have slightly declined each of the last four seasons, but he's also facing the toughest competition on the team and is starting just over 43% of his shifts in the offensive zone. The team around him is improving, which suggests that the decline will stop and he'll bounce back a little.
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche – After three years of watching EJ regress, just when many poolies had given up on him - he steps up with 39 points and makes it clear that there is still so much potential as yet untapped.
Seth Jones, Nashville Predators – We know he's going to be a superstar. But will the big fantasy season happen this year, next year or the one after that?
Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia Flyers - MDZ showed us so much in New York prior to last season. But he was horrible in 2013-14 for two different teams. Look for something between five and 45 points this campaign. Did that help?
Dobber has been the fantasy hockey writer for The Hockey News since 2002 and for Puck Daddy since 2009. He launched his fantasy hockey site DobberHockey.com in 2005 and has been helping poolies win their leagues ever since. Follow him on Twitter @DobberHockey. You can pick up Dobber's 9th annual Fantasy Hockey Guide here