In today’s NHL, every team’s blueprint for success includes a puck-moving defenseman. It’s no different in fantasy hockey. A mobile, offensive defenseman can add a whole new dimension to your team, bringing offense from a traditionally unexpected source.
You will find a noticeable lack of young defensemen among my top 20. Defensemen usually take more time to develop, and the present guard is lasting longer than ever (see Bourque, Ray) and contributing regularly in the offensive zone. The only rookie to make the list is Columbus wonder kid Rusty Klesla, and he’s pretty far down the list. Most players who are top offensive defensemen have honed their craft for several seasons.
Since there are so many defensemen available, I expanded my list to include the top 40. Enjoy.
1. Niklas Lidstrom, Detroit
Bar none, the NHL’s premier offensive defensemen. He’s the cog that gets the Wings’ transition game going, and with Scotty Bowman planning to adopt the attacking Torpedo style offensive scheme, his point totals could increase. As if he needs any more motivation, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this year.
2. Chris Pronger, St.Louis
His points per game have risen every year. An absolute workhorse who will log a ton of ice time again this season. Amazingly enough, he’s still one of the more underrated offensive defensemen in the game. The addition of Doug Weight, and Tkachuk’s PP ability will improve Prongers numbers even more. If he stays free of injury, he could lead all defensemen in scor Read more»
The New York Rangers assigned 37 players to Hartford of the AHL on Saturday. Brad Smyth, who netted 50 goals with the Wolf Pack, and P.J. Stock who split time with the Rangers and Philadelphia were among the 20 forwards sent down to Hartford. The Rangers also sent four goalies and 13 defencemen to Hartford. The first cuts trimmed the roster to 31 players, leading into the first pre-season game tonight in Detroit.
The Edmonton Oilers have assigned 15 players to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Assigned to the Bulldogs were goaltenders Alex Fomitchev, Eric Heffler and Jeff Salajko; defencemen Ryan Bast, Chad Hamilton and Darren Tiemstra; forwards Kevin Brown, Chad Hinz, J.J. Hunter, Sean McAslan, Kevin McDonald, Fernando Pisani, Sean Selmser, Jared Smyth and Max Spiridonov.
The Edmonton Oilers training camp roster now stands at 44, with the reassignment of 15 players to Hamilton.
The Bulldogs training camp begins Friday at 10 a.m. at the Morgan Firestone Arena in Ancaster. Hamilton’s first exhibition game is Sunday at 7:30 p.m. against the Syracuse Crunch at the Central Arena in Burlington.
The Toronto Maple Leafs assigned 10 players to the St. John’s Maple Leafs. The list includes: goaltenders Sebastien Centomo and Jamie Hodson, defencemen Christian Chartier, Tyler Harlton, Allan Rourke and Jonathan Zion, and forwards Bobby House, Don MacLean, Craig Mills and Michal Travnicek.
Just ask Henrik Bergfors, or anyone else in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s B Camp, for that matter. Nearly all of them have felt the effects of Aaron Lobb’s wrath.
It’s funny: The guy who was highly criticized for his lack of physical play at draft time is by far the most aggressive player in the Lightning’s B Camp. That knock—lack of physical play—was probably a considerable factor in his dropping to the forth round in the draft, though his consistency was also questioned. Whatever the reason, this kid appears to be the complete package, and he was a steal in the late fourth round.
Lobb opened camp with a bang, getting into a scrum with Swedish defenseman Bergfors just minutes into the first scrimmage. Though no punches were thrown before Lobb lost his balance and pulled Berfgors to the ice with him, it showed Lobb’s willingness and ability to handle the rougher side of the game.
Since then, he has thrown his body around at every opportunity—which at 6’4”, 198 is a lot of body to throw around. But, as Lobb says, “It’s just a part of the game.” When a ruckus arises, Lobb is one of the first ones on the scene. “I try to play the power forward role. By being that type of player, it comes with it.”
There is more to Lobb than his punishing hits. He has also impressed with his offensive skills and tremendous attitude, and he has been working hard while in Tampa Bay.
“We have really hard workouts, but the harder it is, the better it is,” he says. Hard does not even begin to describe the regimen that Brad Shaw, who will se Read more»
The London Knights are currently in their second year of management by the Hunter family and the last year playing at the IceHouse. A number of excellent players have donned the Knights uniform in the old barn, and we may be seeing the best of the bunch this year in Rick Nash. Pretty strong statement considering Jason Allison and Brendan Shanahan among others are alumni.
Nash stands six foot four inches and weighs in at 180 pounds. He shoots left and plays left wing. He is a probable top 5 pick for the 2002 entry draft and will challenge for the top spot. He will face great scrutiny this year, as numerous scouts pick apart his game, looking for flaws real and imagined, comparing him to the other elite players around the globe. Toss in going to school, dealing with teen age problems, and oh yeah, being the go to guy on an OHL team for the second year in a row and there will be a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
Nash has a number of things going for him, and lets start with his size. He is already a big man and one can imagine what he may look like in a few years when he is done filling out. But the amazing part is that he is totally comfortable with his body and shows no signs of the awkwardness that other teenagers do when they have grown rapidly. He is a magician with the puck and uses his long reach to his total advantage. He can stickhandle laterally with ease, and loves to pull the puck back to his body, leaving opponents lunging futilely in search of the puck. With his size he can turn a corner and shield the puck with one arm off his stick Read more»