Every season, the first couple rounds of your typical fantasy draft sees, the majority of teams, scooping up all 90-100 pt forwards, and the elite goalies. Which in most instances is the easiest and most effective way to build the core of your team, after all you don't want to call Pascal Leclaire your number one goaltender do you? You don't believe me, I'm a Senators fan, you don't want him as your number one.
But what about your blue line?
It's well know that the number of defensemen that can, consistently put up 70+ pts per season is very small.....see Mike Green. Where as the number of forwards...29.
There are plenty of points to go around up front, and the level of talent doesn't waiver a ton from tier to tier. The blue line is different. You have three tier one defenders- Green, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty. Followed by the second tier of offensive producers a group that features the steady vets, Dan Boyle, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Pronger, Nick Lidstrom, Tomas Kaberla etc.
So whats the difference between the top rated blue liner, and the lowest rated tier two option (Green to Kaberla)- 27 pts. That's incredible!
What happens if we take that same point difference and apply it to the forwards, starting with Art Ross winner Henrik Sedin monster season of 112 pts, take away the 27 and you're left with.....Ilya Kovalchuk. Yeah that's a big drop in talent.
If that's not the clearist depiction that elite blue liners are more valuable then elite forwards, then I don't know what is.
Personally I prefer to have a strong blueline, and fill in my forwards with "lesser" talents. So what if I don't have Sedin as my number one center, I prefer Eric Staal in the second round anyways. So who did I take with my first pick instead(outside of Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby)? Clearly it's....
1- Mike Green- What else needs to be written about the guy? The guy boasts a .911 PT/G pace over the past three seasons. That's just sick in the head! 35 PPP, 205 SOG, 133 Hits, etc etc, oh and he's still young, turning 25 on Tuesday. With enough weapons up front to make North Korea nervous, the Capitals armed with Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Semin (why no love for this guy) are going to score a ton of ton of goals, and Green is going to get plenty of assists. No blue liner is in a better situation this year then Green. Expect more of the same this season from Green
- 2010-2011- 78 GP, 21 G, 60 A, 81 PTS
2- Sergei Gonchar- Yeah he's getting old, but few can run a power better then Gonchar. He alone improves the Senators power play immediately, and immensely. Couple that with the maturation of Eric Karlsson, and the Sens power play looks impressive. As for Gonchar himself, sports a very nice .819 PTS/GP clip over the last three seasons. Of course there are concerns over his durabilty which effects his value big time, as you always want a durable blueliner, but the prospect of 55pts from the blue line is far to good to pass up in the 6th-7th round.
-2010-2011- 70 GP- 13 G, 42 A, 55 PTS
3- Tomas Kaberla- I told ya. I'm a Senators fan, as mentioned before, so you know I hate seeing a Leaf on my list, but the quiet veteran is in a very favourable position this season. Partnering up on the Buds power play with the constantly sneering Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf possesses that howitzer from the point that the Leafs have missed since the departure of Bryan McCabe. There is always the threat that GM Brian Burke, might be able to swing Kaberla at the dead line (provided he approves the deal). But that makes no difference at this point in time.
-2010-2011- 80 GP, 8 G, 44 A, 52 PTS
4- Keith Yandle- Ed Jovanovski who? Well, since he's still on the team , and the highest paid, Jovo Cop will still get plenty of minutes, but his time has passed. There is an acceptable level of durabilty questions that one can have- Gonchar has it- Jovanovski does not. Which makes Yandle the one Coyote blue liner you want to own this season. Coming off a season that saw his establish career highs across the board, I expect more growth from this season as he's maturing, and playing for a new contract next season. I don't expect him to join the upper echelon of the second tier, but a finish in the middle of the group isn't out the question.
-2010-2011- 80 GP- 12 G, 35 A, 47 PTS
5- Kurtis Foster- Finally! Foster was healthy for a full season last year and had a great season, putting up a career high 42 pts, with a remarkable 26 coming on the PP. That's nearly 62% of his total production coming with the man advantage. This season Foster has taken his talents out West, to play for the upstart Edmonton Oilers. Without his all-star supporting cast that included, Steven Stamkos, Martin St.Louis, Vincent Lecavalier etc, many pundits are expecting a down season this year. I'm not, maybe I'm the eternal optimist, but I feel that being the undisputed "guy" in Edmonton will help him big time. With a big shot, and fellow PP quarter back Ales Hemskey distributing the puck, Foster stands to produce another 20+ with the man advantage.
-2010-2011- 70 GP, 10 G, 35 A, 45 PTS
6- Erik Karlsson- See I told ya. Playing with Gonchar will have a big impact on the youngsters game. He's a hot sleeper pick this year, so I'll keep it short. Power play time, coaches trust, talented team mates- Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Nick Foligno, Peter Regin, Alex Kovalev-, and sound decision making- all hall marks of a break out season for the thrid year pro.
-2010-2011- 75 GP- 8 G, 33 A, 41 PTS
7- Pavel Kubina- Not the sexiest name to see on the draft board, but knowing that you should select Kubina and not Brent Burns could be the difference between a contender and an also ran. A proven, solid, healthy producer is always worth more then the high risk/high upside youngster (not to deny Burns considerable talent). Kubina's solid .513 PTS/GP mark over the last three seasons, means that you're getting a plug and play defenseman. Unfortunately Kubina didn't see much PP time last season , but a move to the Lightning and their considerable talents, should see a return to the 18-20 PPP guy, and lets now for get, it's a contract year for the big Czech.
-2010-2011- 76 GP- 8, 30 A, 38 PTS
8- Anton Stralman- I've been pimping this guy all off season. As the young gun put up 22 PPP last season, a total that accounted for 64.7% of his production! He slowed towards the end of the season, but you can blame that on it being his first full season in the NHL, one that say a dramatic increase in ice time and responsibility. As long as he continues to get time on the first PP unit with the Blue Jackets he's worth rostering. A return to prominence of goaltender Steve Mason will help the unsightly -17 mark of last season. Continued developement seems very likely but won't come in the form of a 50 Pts season.
-2010-2011- 76 GP- 7 GP, 31 A, 38 PTS
9- Kris Letang- Don't ask me why. It has more to do with the situation then the skill level. He's never surpassed 33 Pts in a season before, which isn't a great mark, but it's reasonable for short stretches in the lineup. He's not a guy I would draft in a shallow league, but one I would keep an eye on. It's clear that Alex Goligoski is "the guy" on the Penguins blue line, and PP but I wouldn't be surprised if Letang gets looks on the top unit in place of Paul Martin. Given the size of his new contract, Letang will have to prove he's worthy of it. I'll take a risk as an early roster add that he'll be productive.
-2010-2011- 75 GP- 6 G, 25 A, 31 PTS
10- John Carlson- Yes he's a rookie, but his heroics in World Juniors and his good playoff debut, hint at big things for the blue chip prospect. With his talent level, and the surrounding talent he could very well, out score 6-7 of the players listed above him. He'll likely get time on the second PP unit with Tom Poti, and sigh, Tomas Fleischmann, Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich. This is far from a guarantee though, so there is a bit of risk involved in drafting/adding him. But the upside is tremendous.
-2010-2011- 8 G, 20 A, 28 PTS
There you have, 10 defenseman I like more then you.