Here are the top 10 defensemen you should target for your fantasy hockey draft, and why:
1. Mike Green
Worthy of the #1 overall pick, if your league places any significant value on defensemen. He's a lock in for the top blueliner in 2009, as he has been for the past 2 seasons.
2. Sergei Gonchar
Say what you must about about Crosby and Malkin, but the truth is, the Penguins weren't even in the playoff hunt while Gonchar was missing. He's the best power play skater in the league, and with the talent around him in Pittsburgh, he'll be back in the top 5 scoring d-men for sure.
3. Shea Weber
Weber was slowed down by injury in 2007-08, but got back on his upward track last season. He could push the 30 goal marker this season. Put him in your top tier of defense.
4. Zdeno Chara
If your league values penalty minutes, you should plan on snagging Chara as early as possible. If not, you should still rank him pretty high. He's been scoring goals consistently for years and was finally rewarded with his first Norris Trophy in 2008-09. Chara should match his performance this season.
5. Jay Bouwmeester
Bouwmeester has arrived as a top notch defenseman. Now that he's set to be released from Southern Florida, expect him to flourish and score even more. Bouwmeester could challenge for the Norris this season in Calgary.
6. Dion Phaneuf
Phaneuf was a bit of a disappointment in 2008, only because he had set the bar so high for himself in his first 3 seasons. He still managed to score 47 points, even if it was the lowest total he's posted yet. Phaneuf will bounce back and finish in the top 10 again this season.
7. Dan Boyle
After receiving the blessing of being banished from Tampa Bay, Boyle hit the jackpot by landing in San Jose. He quickly re-established himself as one of the league's best defensemen, particularly from a fantasy hockey perspective. He'll keep the pace up next season, so rank him as high as you wish.
8. Nicklas Lidstrom
No doubt he's still one of the best in the business; however, he's no longer the #1 choice, as he had been for the last decade. Expect a small dip in production this season, down to the 40-50 point range.
9. Brian Campbell
Campbell slid slightly in production last season, but he should remain a valuable defensive pick this time around. However, there is some reason for concern, based on his reduced playing time in the playoffs.
10. Sheldon Souray
After being limited in 2007 due to injury, Souray came right back and racked up another 23 goals in 08. Assuming he stays healthy, he's the best the Oilers have to offer and will get all the power play time he can handle. Expect him to top 20 goals once again.