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Fantasy hockey rankings update: Underrated defenseman picks

Noah Dobson of the New York Islanders can do more than just shoot the puck, and that's why you should pick him up. Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

Never underestimate the power of hits and blocked shots to fuel your fantasy team. The two stats have given rise to many underrated defensemen who play a physical game but remain under-utilized by the fantasy community.

In an attempt to illustrate this, let's look at fantasy points in the league since Jan. 1.

Kris Letang leads all NHLers with 71.4 fantasy points since Jan. 1, so that is our pinnacle for production. What we are looking at here is production of fantasy points by other players in only the hit and blocked shots categories since then.

Specifically, we are looking at some defensemen who are widely available and providing much more fantasy production than you might think.

Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy, D, Chicago Blackhawks: Here are your poster boys for this argument. De Haan is rostered in 10% of leagues but he has 43 fantasy points via hits and blocked shots since Jan. 1, for a total of 53.2 fantasy points -- 18th among all skaters in 2022. Murphy is rostered in 23% of leagues and has 37.3 fantasy points from hits and blocked shots since Jan. 1, for a total of 47.2 -- 37th among all skaters in 2022. The Blackhawks may not be pouring on the offense this season, but there are so many fantasy points available on this blue line that are being wasted.

Noah Dobson, D, New York Islanders: Available in 49% of leagues, Dobson might be the best overall pickup from this group of players I'm discussing. On top of his 21.1 points from hits and blocked shots since Jan. 1, Dobson has another 21.7 fantasy points from offense thanks to his now-secured role as the Islanders power-play quarterback. It makes for a fantasy total since Jan. 1 that ranks 58th among all skaters.

Brian Dumoulin, D, Pittsburgh Penguins: Barely rostered at all (3.4%), Dumoulin has been drafting off his league-leading defense partner by collecting a very useful amount of fantasy points since Jan. 1. Of his 37.7 fantasy points in that time, 25 of them have come from hits and blocked shots. His total in that span ranks 82nd among all skaters, just ahead of Morgan Rielly and Rasmus Dahlin and Alex Pietrangelo.

Luke Schenn, D, Vancouver Canucks: Given new life under coach Bruce Boudreau, Schenn is not only getting regular ice time for the first time in a couple seasons, but he's fantasy relevant because of it. Shockingly, he's actually only 1.4 fantasy points behind his brother Brayden (who's been pretty hot) since Jan. 1. Luke's 35 fantasy points (26 from hits and blocked shots) put him 112th among all skaters in 2022. To put it another way, Schenn has as many fantasy points from hits and blocked shots since Jan. 1 as his defense partner Quinn Hughes has total -- and Hughes is rostered in 91% of leagues, compared with Schenn's 3.5%.

Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, Washington Capitals: Even way down the list you can find enough fantasy points to help your team through hits and blocked shots. Van Riemsdyk has just 31.8 fantasy points since Jan. 1, but 21.8 of them are from hits and blocked shots. And that subtle total is still enough to be ranked No. 150 among all skaters in the timeframe. And, obviously, van Riemsdyk is available in virtually every league.

The hits and blocked shots from the aforementioned defensemen are clearly enough to help your fantasy team, but I will also suggest using these players in a targeted way. At the end of the day, having a full fantasy profile is better than a lopsided specialist. The way I would use these players is combine them being in your lineup with the fantasy forecaster we publish here on Fridays. Do the Blackhawks have a four-game week? Put de Haan and Murphy in your lineup for the week. The Canucks have a heavy schedule the following week? Drop Murphy and add Schenn.

But the bottom line is that there are a lot of fantasy points rotting on the waiver wire just because they come from players who don't score.

Forwards on the move

Blake Wheeler, W, Winnipeg Jets (up 25 spots to No. 101): I had some concerns with Wheeler getting a little up there in age this season, and overall that concern has been justified. But, as is the case with many older NHLers, the production can still come in strong spurts when the circumstances are right. In fact, if you throw out his October and November production and try to forgive him for missing big chunks of time, Wheeler has 26 points in 19 games since Dec. 1. It's easier said than done to just "forgive" him the missed time, but Wheeler is healthy and productive at the moment -- and I think the early-season version we saw of him was just him getting warmed up.

Brady Tkachuk, W, Ottawa Senators (down 10 spots to No. 47): Tkachuk is starting to look a little lonely at the top of the Sens depth chart. The lack of Drake Batherson and Josh Norris is having a quantifiable impact on his output, as Tkachuk has just nine points in 13 games since Batherson was injured -- and only one of them came on the power play.

Chandler Stephenson, D, Vegas Golden Knights (up 33 spots to No. 185): So much for the Evgenii Dadonov experiment. Using a natural winger on the top scoring line with Jack Eichel, rather than leaning on the established chemistry between Max Pacioretty and Stephenson, lasted one game. So everything I wrote about Dadonov on Friday about him potentially being a lucrative fantasy play, you can just apply it to Stephenson. He was ditched in a few leagues over the past week, as it looked like Stephenson was headed for the Golden Knights bottom six with Eichel's return. But that's no longer the case and he should be scooped back up.

Defensemen on the move

Moritz Seider, D, Detroit Red Wings (up 17 spots to No. 82): Seider has been given constant love in the rankings this season, with good reason. His overall production has been steady and fantasy relevant all season. But he does seem to have pushed up the production a notch or two. His average ice time continues to push higher, from 22:25 in October to now 24:48 in February. As a collector of periphery stats on top of his offense, Seider absolutely is the real deal and is going to be a fantasy star for many years to come at this rate.

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Moritz Seider tallies a power-play goal

Moritz Seider with a third-period power-play goal vs. Chicago.

Jeff Petry, D, Montreal Canadiens (enters ranks at No. 240): The "swagger" the Habs are displaying, as coach Martin St. Louis calls it, has definitely been evident in the play of Petry under the new bench boss. Really, Petry looks like the Petry we know and love in fantasy over the past four games. He's collected five points in that span, scoring in every contest -- and this is with Petry still not getting the power-play quarterback role back, which you have to think is coming next.

Goaltenders on the move

Jeremy Swayman, G, Boston Bruins (up 53 spots to No. 177): This goaltender carousel has been even messier than we could have predicted and I'm growing tired of the horse-trading in the rankings between Linus Ullmark and Swayman. At the moment, the pendulum has clearly swung Swayman's way, so if you need to chase some goaltender production, he's the Bruins netminder to target. I just wish we didn't have to, but the team is competitive enough and so good at defense that this is a fantasy production factory for whichever goalie has it locked down.

New to rankings

Cole Caufield, Damon Severson, Erik Cernak, Jeff Petry and Jakub Voracek.

Just missed

Ryan Lindgren, Scott Mayfield, Brian Dumoulin, Adam Pelech and Phillip Danault.

Dropped out

J.T. Compher, James Reimer, Braden Holtby, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Cole Perfetti.

Top-250 rankings

1. Connor McDavid, F, EDM (F1)
2. Auston Matthews, F, TOR (F2)
3. Leon Draisaitl, F, EDM (F3)
4. Nikita Kucherov, F, TB (F4)
5. Nathan MacKinnon, F, COL (F5)
6. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G1)
7. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G2)
8. Mikko Rantanen, F, COL (F6)
9. Brad Marchand, F, BOS (F7)
10. Cale Makar, D, COL (D1)
11. Jack Campbell, G, TOR (G3)
12. Alex Ovechkin, F, WSH (F8)
13. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D2)
14. Roman Josi, D, NSH (D3)
15. Timo Meier, F, SJ (F9)
16. Kirill Kaprizov, F, MIN (F10)
17. Aleksander Barkov, F, FLA (F11)
18. David Pastrnak, F, BOS (F12)
19. Frederik Andersen, G, CAR (G4)
20. Gabriel Landeskog, F, COL (F13)
21. Juuse Saros, G, NSH (G5)
22. Jake Guentzel, F, PIT (F14)
23. Sebastian Aho, F, CAR (F15)
24. Mika Zibanejad, F, NYR (F16)
25. Jacob Markstrom, G, CGY (G6)
26. Tristan Jarry, G, PIT (G7)
27. Kyle Connor, F, WPG (F17)
28. Nazem Kadri, F, COL (F18)
29. Filip Forsberg, F, NSH (F19)
30. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D4)
31. Jack Eichel, F, VGS (F20)
32. Kris Letang, D, PIT (D5)
33. Steven Stamkos, F, TB (F21)
34. Max Pacioretty, F, VGS (F22)
35. Elias Lindholm, F, CGY (F23)
36. Jonathan Huberdeau, F, FLA (F24)
37. Bryan Rust, F, PIT (F25)
38. Chris Kreider, F, NYR (F26)
39. Charlie McAvoy, D, BOS (D6)
40. Sidney Crosby, F, PIT (F27)
41. Anze Kopitar, F, LA (F28)
42. Alex Pietrangelo, D, VGS (D7)
43. Joe Pavelski, F, DAL (F29)
44. Patrik Laine, F, CLS (F30)
45. Vladimir Tarasenko, F, STL (F31)
46. Mats Zuccarello, F, MIN (F32)
47. Brady Tkachuk, F, OTT (F33)
48. Patrice Bergeron, F, BOS (F34)
49. Mitch Marner, F, TOR (F35)
50. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D8)
51. Matthew Tkachuk, F, CGY (F36)
52. Noah Dobson, D, NYI (D9)
53. Evander Kane, F, EDM (F37)
54. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, FLA (G8)
55. J.T. Miller, F, VAN (F38)
56. Seth Jones, D, CHI (D10)
57. John Tavares, F, TOR (F39)
58. Aaron Ekblad, D, FLA (D11)
59. Devon Toews, D, COL (D12)
60. Artemi Panarin, F, NYR (F40)
61. Darnell Nurse, D, EDM (D13)
62. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G9)
63. Johnny Gaudreau, F, CGY (F41)
64. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D14)
65. Jack Hughes, F, NJ (F42)
66. Dougie Hamilton, D, NJ (D15)
67. Mark Scheifele, F, WPG (F43)
68. Roope Hintz, F, DAL (F44)
69. Jason Robertson, F, DAL (F45)
70. Tyler Bertuzzi, F, DET (F46)
71. Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (D16)
72. Boone Jenner, F, CLS (F47)
73. Alex Tuch, F, BUF (F48)
74. Ville Husso, G, STL (G10)
75. Cam Talbot, G, MIN (G11)
76. Andrei Svechnikov, F, CAR (F49)
77. Evgeni Malkin, F, PIT (F50)
78. MacKenzie Weegar, D, FLA (D17)
79. Brent Burns, D, SJ (D18)
80. Morgan Rielly, D, TOR (D19)
81. Brayden Point, F, TB (F51)
82. Moritz Seider, D, DET (D20)
83. William Nylander, F, TOR (F52)
84. Dylan Larkin, F, DET (F53)
85. John Carlson, D, WSH (D21)
86. Zach Werenski, D, CLS (D22)
87. Alex DeBrincat, F, CHI (F54)
88. Darcy Kuemper, G, COL (G12)
89. Pierre-Luc Dubois, F, WPG (F55)
90. Connor Hellebuyck, G, WPG (G13)
91. Thomas Chabot, D, OTT (D23)
92. Jordan Kyrou, F, STL (F56)
93. Brock Nelson, F, NYI (F57)
94. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, F, EDM (F58)
95. Joel Eriksson Ek, F, MIN (F59)
96. Matt Duchene, F, NSH (F60)
97. Tony DeAngelo, D, CAR (D24)
98. Matthew Boldy, F, MIN (F61)
99. Sam Bennett, F, FLA (F62)
100. Tomas Hertl, F, SJ (F63)
101. Blake Wheeler, F, WPG (F64)
102. Tyler Toffoli, F, CGY (F65)
103. Ryan Hartman, F, MIN (F66)
104. Josh Norris, F, OTT (F67)
105. Thatcher Demko, G, VAN (G14)
106. Teuvo Teravainen, F, CAR (F68)
107. Anthony Duclair, F, FLA (F69)
108. Colton Parayko, D, STL (D25)
109. Elias Pettersson, F, VAN (F70)
110. Evgeny Kuznetsov, F, WSH (F71)
111. Claude Giroux, F, PHI (F72)
112. Robin Lehner, G, VGS (G15)
113. Pavel Buchnevich, F, STL (F73)
114. Kevin Fiala, F, MIN (F74)
115. Patrick Kane, F, CHI (F75)
116. Mario Ferraro, D, SJ (D26)
117. Alec Martinez, D, VGS (D27)
118. Troy Terry, F, ANA (F76)
119. Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN (D28)
120. Mathew Dumba, D, MIN (D29)
121. Taylor Hall, F, BOS (F77)
122. Evan Bouchard, D, EDM (D30)
123. Ivan Provorov, D, PHI (D31)
124. Marcus Foligno, F, MIN (F78)
125. Logan Couture, F, SJ (F79)
126. Cam Atkinson, F, PHI (F80)
127. Jaccob Slavin, D, CAR (D32)
128. Miro Heiskanen, D, DAL (D33)
129. Sam Reinhart, F, FLA (F81)
130. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, ARI (D34)
131. Tom Wilson, F, WSH (F82)
132. Ondrej Palat, F, TB (F83)
133. Esa Lindell, D, DAL (D35)
134. Vincent Trocheck, F, CAR (F84)
135. Rasmus Andersson, D, CGY (D36)
136. Viktor Arvidsson, F, LA (F85)
137. John Gibson, G, ANA (G16)
138. T.J. Oshie, F, WSH (F86)
139. Mathew Barzal, F, NYI (F87)
140. Clayton Keller, F, ARI (F88)
141. Nicklas Backstrom, F, WSH (F89)
142. Neal Pionk, D, WPG (D37)
143. Samuel Girard, D, COL (D38)
144. Andrew Mangiapane, F, CGY (F90)
145. Zach Whitecloud, D, VGS (D39)
146. Ivan Barbashev, F, STL (F91)
147. Rasmus Dahlin, D, BUF (D40)
148. Tage Thompson, F, BUF (F92)
149. Mark Giordano, D, SEA (D41)
150. Shea Theodore, D, VGS (D42)
151. Jonathan Marchessault, F, VGS (F93)
152. Valeri Nichushkin, F, COL (F94)
153. Jonas Brodin, D, MIN (D43)
154. Jakob Chychrun, D, ARI (D44)
155. Connor Murphy, D, CHI (D45)
156. Erik Johnson, D, COL (D46)
157. Tim Stutzle, F, OTT (F95)
158. Artem Zub, D, OTT (D47)
159. Zach Hyman, F, EDM (F96)
160. Nikolaj Ehlers, F, WPG (F97)
161. Jesper Bratt, F, NJ (F98)
162. Anton Lundell, F, FLA (F99)
163. Oliver Bjorkstrand, F, CLS (F100)
164. Andre Burakovsky, F, COL (F101)
165. Alex Iafallo, F, LA (F102)
166. Brayden McNabb, D, VGS (D48)
167. Brayden Schenn, F, STL (F103)
168. John Klingberg, D, DAL (D49)
169. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D50)
170. Jared McCann, F, SEA (F104)
171. Adam Larsson, D, SEA (D51)
172. Jeff Carter, F, PIT (F105)
173. Justin Faulk, D, STL (D52)
174. Nico Hischier, F, NJ (F106)
175. Rickard Rakell, F, ANA (F107)
176. Alex Killorn, F, TB (F108)
177. Jeremy Swayman, G, BOS (G17)
178. Anthony Cirelli, F, TB (F109)
179. Cole Caufield, F, MON (F110)
180. Ryan Johansen, F, NSH (F111)
181. Andrew Copp, F, WPG (F112)
182. Ryan Getzlaf, F, ANA (F113)
183. Adrian Kempe, F, LA (F114)
184. Torey Krug, D, STL (D53)
185. Chandler Stephenson, F, VGS (F115)
186. Ryan Graves, D, NJ (D54)
187. Brock Boeser, F, VAN (F116)
188. Quinn Hughes, D, VAN (D55)
189. Joshua Morrissey, D, WPG (D56)
190. Lucas Raymond, F, DET (F117)
191. Connor Brown, F, OTT (F118)
192. Pavel Francouz, G, COL (G18)
193. Ilya Mikheyev, F, TOR (F119)
194. Elvis Merzlikins, G, CLS (G19)
195. Oliver Wahlstrom, F, NYI (F120)
196. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, ANA (D57)
197. Alex Goligoski, D, MIN (D58)
198. Bo Horvat, F, VAN (F121)
199. Jamie Benn, F, DAL (F122)
200. Ryan Strome, F, NYR (F123)
201. Evgenii Dadonov, F, VGS (F124)
202. Ryan O'Reilly, F, STL (F125)
203. Mason Marchment, F, FLA (F126)
204. Jordan Eberle, F, SEA (F127)
205. Cam Fowler, D, ANA (D59)
206. Linus Ullmark, G, BOS (G20)
207. Adam Henrique, F, ANA (F128)
208. Jonathan Quick, G, LA (G21)
209. Nick Suzuki, F, MON (F129)
210. Mikael Granlund, F, NSH (F130)
211. Anders Lee, F, NYI (F131)
212. Jeff Skinner, F, BUF (F132)
213. Trevor Zegras, F, ANA (F133)
214. Tyler Seguin, F, DAL (F134)
215. David Perron, F, STL (F135)
216. Blake Coleman, F, CGY (F136)
217. Jake Oettinger, G, DAL (G22)
218. Tyson Barrie, D, EDM (D60)
219. Mike Smith, G, EDM (G23)
220. Vladislav Gavrikov, D, CLS (D61)
221. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, CHI (G24)
222. Calvin de Haan, D, CHI (D62)
223. Ilya Samsonov, G, WSH (G25)
224. Lawson Crouse, F, ARI (F137)
225. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, PHI (D63)
226. Evan Rodrigues, F, PIT (F138)
227. Jesse Puljujarvi, F, EDM (F139)
228. Jaden Schwartz, F, SEA (F140)
229. Matt Roy, D, LA (D64)
230. Damon Severson, D, NJ (D65)
231. Kaapo Kahkonen, G, MIN (G26)
232. Ryan McDonagh, D, TB (D66)
233. Ondrej Kase, F, TOR (F141)
234. Ben Chiarot, D, MON (D67)
235. Jakub Vrana, F, DET (F142)
236. Nate Schmidt, D, WPG (D68)
237. Tanner Jeannot, F, NSH (F143)
238. Erik Cernak, D, TB (D69)
239. Michael Bunting, F, TOR (F144)
240. Jeff Petry, D, MON (D70)
241. Reilly Smith, F, VGS (F145)
242. Robert Thomas, F, STL (F146)
243. Carter Verhaeghe, F, FLA (F147)
244. Sean Durzi, D, LA (D71)
245. Radko Gudas, D, FLA (D72)
246. Tyler Myers, D, VAN (D73)
247. Justin Braun, D, PHI (D74)
248. Nathan Bastian, F, NJ (F148)
249. Brett Pesce, D, CAR (D75)
250. Jakub Voracek, F, CLS (F149)