Apr 11, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Blue Line

So now that you have your offense, now it’s time to take a defense worth earning some points. Usually in my league that I am the commissioner of, I set the bars a little higher for defense. A defense will earn you points, but not as many as the offense will. With only 2-4 defense compared to 6 offense, at least that is how many I usually have in my starting lineup, defense is outnumbered.

May 22, 2013; Ottawa, ON, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) during wamups prior to game four of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Place. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Bottom line is, draft early, and draft aggressive when it comes to defense.

I don’t know about your leagues, but the thing that I have noticed year to year, is the consistent power-play contributions from a defender. While the offense does do most of the scoring on the power-play, who contributes with assists all the time?

You guessed it, defense.

In my leagues, on top of goals and assists, modifiers are added for scoring while being a man-up. By only adding 1 or 2 extra points, those are the points that can divide a league. And push you to the top.

Over the past few years I have realized something, most of the defensemen who led the league the previous year, don’t really repeat the performance the next. Sure some stay within the top 10, but no one defender is atop the standings years after year. Given last season wasn’t a great season for stats due to the lockout, but there are some notable names to keep in mind.

In my opinion, the following players are great to have on any team next season:

1: Erik Karlsson- Sure he only played for Ottawa in 17 games last season due to the tear in his left Achilles heel, but the 23-year old defense is definitely a strong candidate to pick up. Recently, Karlsson was the center of an NHL.com article and even told them, “I feel good, I was a bit concerned at the beginning of the summer…….as of right now I have no concerns the once training camp starts, there will be no problems at all.” This is amazing news considering he was sidelined with a 70% tear. But I strongly believe that the former defensive leader in overall points will be back with a vengeance come puck drop. Definitely a strong 1st-2nd round pick.

2: Zdeno Chara- Not a surprise. Being 6′ 9,” he stands, literally and metaphorically, among the top of the top in defense in the league. Definitely who I would call a point monger, Chara gets things done from the point for the Boston Bruins, racking up major assists and goals here and there while on the ice. While the Bruins try to place him in front of the net, Chara definitely has success from the point. Chara dropped off a bit this season, dropping from 4th place in points in 2011-2012 to 39th in 2012-2013 season. But I expect Chara, who is a very disciplined player, to come back and deliver a very strong effort this season.

Mar 12, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) faces the Dallas Stars attack during the third period at the American Airlines Center. The Predators shut out the Stars 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

3: Shea Weber- One of my personal favorites, I have never had a problem with Weber when it comes with points. Weber, for the past two seasons, has been in the top 10 in points. That is a great thing to hear since last season was cut short. He definitely was a solid defense and should be one of the first picks in your draft. after signing the mega contract with the Nashville Predators, my expectations for this season include Weber continuing his defensive presence and topping the list this next season. The two-time Norris trophy winner is arguably one of the top defensemen in the league with a combination of one of the hardest shots mixed with speed, awareness, and defensive strength.

4: P.K. Subban- The most recent Norris Trophy winner definitely deserved the award. Finally settling his contract with the Montreal Canadiens allowed P.K. to focus more on his game, also allowing him to situate among the top ranks for defensemen. After missing the first four games of the 2012-2013 season, P.K. finally took to the ice and began his climb atop the leaders in points with 11 goals and 27 assists. I, personally, had P.K. on one of my teams last season, granted I did know the risk, definitely paid off in the end, and I would definitely pick him in either my second or third picks once again this season. 26 of those points (7 G, 19 A), came on the special teams unit, making Subban a valuable asset to have for those bonus points.

5: Kris Letang: Another one of my picks that I had last year. The 24-year old d-man finished tied with Subban in the points rankings, with 38 points. The better part, while Subban scored 38 points in 42 games, Letang did it in 35 games with the Penguins. While he did miss a chunk of an already short season, Letang’s efforts on the special

teams with 13 points (1 G, 12 A) also up his value even more. My thought process, if he tied the seasons points leader with 13 games missed, imagine what else he could have done! Take him in the second to third rounds.

Looking just at points is a good start, but do you need a player who can score goals or assists? According to NHL.com, the top 5 defensive scorers from last season are as follows:

Mike Green- 12 G, 14 A

P.K. Subban- 11 G, 27 A

Andrei Markov- 10 G, 20 A

Keith Yandle- 10 G, 20 A

Shea Weber- 9 G, 19 A.

Now that the defense is set, how will your team be backstopped and earn those win points? Who is the best candidate for that? Check it out later on!



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