Saturday, August 26, 2017

2018 Pool Projections: Top 5 Defenses

Only one of the big money teams appeared in the top five in defensemen scoring in the 2017 draft pool, so maybe I'm putting a little too much onus on this, but I wanted to see what the top five bluelines looked like, using my projections for the coming season.

I have just pulled the top seven on my projected rosters to have a quick peek at and there is a ton of talent between these five squads and I think this is what makes them very dangerous this season.

Nashville Proj Tampa Bay Proj Pittsburgh Proj Columbus Proj Winnipeg Proj
P.K. Subban 55 Victor Hedman 70 Kris Letang 50 Seth Jones 45 Dustin Byfuglien 55
Roman Josi 55 Anton Stralman 30 Justin Schultz 50 Zach Werenski 35 Jacob Trouba 35
Ryan Ellis 40 Mikhail Sergachev 30 Matt Hunwick 25 David Savard 30 Tyler Myers 30
Mattias Ekholm 25 Dan Girardi 15 Olli Maatta 20 Jack Johnson 25 Toby Enstrom 20
Matt Irwin 15 Andrej Sustr 15 Ian Cole 20 Ryan Murray 25 Dmitry Kulikov 20
Alexei Emelin 10 Jake Dotchin 15 Brian Dumoulin 15 Markus Nutivaara 10 Joshua Morrissey 20
Yannick Weber 10 Braydon Coburn 10 Derrick Pouliot 10 Scott Harrington 5 Ben Chiarot 10

If we learned anything in last season's playoffs, the Nashville Predators defense carried their squad all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and it is scoring by committee there.  The top five on their blueline are all returning and all ready to contribute and a guy like Matt Irwin could be a decent sleeper, especially if he can find some more minutes beyond those first four.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have one of the better all around defenders in the league in Victor Hedman and this could be his season for a real shot at the Norris Trophy, assuming he can put together a big 70-point (or so) season.  They also get to add one of the top blueline prospects in the NHL in Mikhail Sergachev, who they acquired in a trade from the Canadiens this summer and he can certainly make this squad and produce.

The Cup champs are somewhat of a curious addition, given the injury prone nature of Kris Letang, but that is taken into account with his season's projection of 50 points.  The real lynch pin now of this blueline is Justin Schultz and he's the guy that could really make his way up the list, if used appropriately.  The addition of Matt Hunwick appears to be a good one, after a good season in Toronto.

Seth Jones is developing into one of the league's best defensemen and he's being trailed by sophomore sensation Zach Werenski, as the Columbus Blue Jackets are continuing to trend upwards in the standings and their playoff prowess.  I think you'll find a few gems in Columbus that will give your team decent support this season, because you'll certainly need it.

Finally, the Jets are another one of those teams that are building up quite the blueline and they have added a big bomber in Dmitry Kulikov, certainly making their already daunting lineup that much stronger.  Winnipeg certainly has a lot of potential at the back end, the likes of Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey are guys that could move beyond their projections and into real worthiness in the 2018 season.

Dale B., our pool winner last season, saw his team rank 9th among the 25 teams in the pool in defensemen scoring, as his team found a pretty good balance between all three positions, ranking 6th in forwards and 7th in goalies.  These guys may not be overly important, but your pool team should still be decent at the position, if you intend to win any money this year.
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