Defensemen may be the most difficult position to manage in fantasy leagues. There aren’t many putting up big offensive numbers so as a Manager you are often looking at players who can provide you good numbers in a few different categories. We are going to provide you with 9 defensemen sleepers who are ready for a breakout, bounce-back, or are simply under the radar.
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Fantasy Hockey Defensemen Sleepers
Moritz Seider (20), Detroit Red Wings – #68 on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
Seider was drafted 6th overall in the 2019 draft. After a season in the AHL and one in the Swedish Elite League, Seider is poised to crack the rebuilding Wings lineup. The 20-year-old German is a complete package of size, skating, and skill, making him a player who can put up points in a number of fantasy categories. With top 4 minutes there for the taking, he has the potential of making a seamless transition into the NHL and becoming maybe the most impactful of my defensemen sleepers.
Vince Dunn (24), Seattle Kraken – #41 on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
There is no question of the offensive talent that Dunn possesses. His point totals have been so-so the past few years with the St.Louis Blues but with the move over to the expansion Seattle Kraken, Dunn should be looking at a more significant role and a lot more offensive opportunities. He has the potential to be this expansion draft’s Shea Theodore, who has starred for Vegas since coming over in the Golden Knights expansion draft.
Matt Grzelyck (27), Boston Bruins – #64 on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
First off, I have to admit I thought Grzelyck was around 23-24 years old and not 27. He has been in the shadow of some more high-profile D in Boston for so long that it was easy to not pay any attention to him. His time has come and with the added ice-time and responsibility, he should continue to build on his good offensive numbers last season.
2021 Bounce Backs
Ryan Ellis (30), Philadelphia Flyers – #38 on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
Ellis battled through injuries in 2020-21 and had a down year production-wise. With a fresh start in Philadelphia and joining a more dynamic offense, I would expect Ellis’s point totals to bounce back toward the 0.77 PPG he had in 2010-20.
Rasmus Dahlin (21), Buffalo Sabres – #28 on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
So we are talking about a 21-year-old D having a bounce-back year when most 21-year-old drafted players have yet to see an NHL game. Expectations are high in Buffalo for this former No. 1 overall draft pick. Things went south in Buffalo last year for both the team and Dahlin. There is too much talent and potential to not expect Dahlin to rebound and begin to establish himself as one of the elite defensemen in the league.
Erik Karlsson (29), San Jose Sharks – #30 on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
It wasn’t that long ago that Karlsson was the perennial No. 1 fantasy defenseman in the league. A few injuries and a trade to San Jose later and he is giving the impression his career is sliding much quicker than anyone could have anticipated. With his health appearing to be the best it has been in a few years, I would look for this two-time Norris Trophy winner to regain some of his mojo and once again put up offensive numbers we are more accustomed to.
2021 Under the Radar
Jani Hakanpaa (29), Dallas Stars – NR on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
Hakanpaa was a late bloomer only making it to the NHL as a 28-year-old. Hakanpaa is a shot-blocking and hitting machine. You won’t get much offense out of him but now that he has established himself as a player who can take a regular shift, be sure to grab him if these are point categories in your league.
Alexander Romanov (21), Montreal Canadiens – NR on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
Romanov seemed to have established himself as a regular on the Montreal D but by the time the playoffs rolled around he did not see much ice time. With Shea Weber seemingly out for the season, Romanov will be given more opportunities, including increased PP time. He is more known for hits but he does have good offensive instincts and skill. He would be someone to keep an eye on as a late-round pick or waiver wire pick up.
Adam Larsson (28), Seattle Kraken – NR on FantraxHQ pre-season rankings
Larsson is another player who is a monster defensively. He puts up big totals in both hits and blocks, often as a leader in blocked shots. Now that he has moved over to Seattle this season as a UFA, Larsson will be leaned on heavily by the Kraken and he will see a lot of ice time. His primary fantasy categories could very well be career highs this season.
Finding your sleepers for your upcoming draft is always a two-step process. Highlighting them on your lists is one thing, when to pull the trigger is often the bigger challenge and dilemma. These 9 defensemen hopefully will give you some ammunition for your upcoming season.
Are you on board with Ian’s defensemen sleepers? Then you’ll definitely want to check out our 2021 Fantasy Hockey Draft Kit. New content is added every day.
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