John Carlson takes the top spot in our 2020-21 Fantasy Hockey Defenseman Rankings after his incredible 2019-20 performance. He scored 15 goals and racked up 75 points in just 69 games. Considering how rarely a defenseman scores over a point per game, there’s no doubt Carlson is as good as it gets. If you think his 75 points were an anomaly, he tallied 70 and 68 points in the two previous campaigns. He brings heavy offense that few other blue liners can match in the NHL.
Roman Josi and Victor Hedman round out the top three. Josi won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman, while Hedman won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. Josi finished second in defensemen scoring with a career-high 65 points in 69 contests. Hedman finished third with 55 points in 66 appearances. Both are two of the best at their position, and are playing the best hockey of their careers.
Free Agency Impact
The biggest fish in free agency was Alex Pietrangelo. Leaving one contender in the St. Louis Blues to join another with the Vegas Golden Knights. He will become the No. 1 defender in Vegas, which could reduce Shea Theodore’s role and production if they aren’t played together. Pietrangelo had 52 points in 70 games, including a career-high 16 goals. There is some risk in drafting him, as he may not replicate those totals should he struggle early on in his first time wearing an NHL sweater without the blue note.
In Pietrangelo’s absence, the Blues signed longtime Bruin Torey Krug. Known for his power play effectiveness, Krug should slot in on the top unit in St. Louis. He scored 49 points last season, with 28 of them generated with the man advantage. On average, Krug plays roughly three to four minutes less per game than Pietrangelo. This means there could be more ice time for Krug now, but also for Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk. The latter two should improve their fantasy value as a result.
Tyson Barrie signed with the Edmonton Oilers, and instantly received a jump in our rankings. Barrie posted 39 points in 70 games as a member of the Maple Leafs, but it was never the perfect fit. Barrie racked up 59 and 57 points in the prior two seasons when he was a regular on the top power play unit. He’ll get that opportunity again as he sets up Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. He’s capable of providing plenty of offensive support as a result.
Cale Makar skyrockets near the top of the rankings, all the way to fourth. With 50 points in 57 appearances, he won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. Playing with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog, Makar is surrounded by talent. The Avalanche are viewed as a top contender by many, and Makar’s emergence is a big reason why.
2019-20 was a fantastic year for rookie defensemen, as it also featured Quinn Hughes. With 53 points, he led all rookies in scoring. Hughes and Makar not only had regular season success, but played even better in the return to play. Hughes had 16 points in 17 games while Makar had 15 in 15. There is always the worry of a player suffering through the dreaded sophomore slump. Hopefully their ability to step their game up in the post season is an indicator that they can continue their success.
These two have been the subject of many debates as to who is better, so it may be surprising to see Makar ranked 15 spots higher. Their offensive is comparable, but Makar has better category coverage. Most notably, Makar has 45 hits to Hughes’ 7. From purely a fantasy hockey perspective, Makar has the edge in our rankings.
2020 Fantasy Hockey Defenseman Rankings
Rankings are based on the following categories: Goals, Assists, Plus/Minus, Shots on Goal, Power Play Points, and Hits.
Collaborated by Brandon Altomonte,, Mike Omelan, and Jesse Severe.
Our defenseman rankings are just the tip of the iceberg! We’ll be pumping out lots more great Fantasy Hockey content in the coming weeks!
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