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Draft Guide

MVP D-Man Roundtable

by Brian Rosenbaum
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Who has been the most valuable defenseman so far this season?

Brian Rosenbaum: The obvious, and probably best choice is Shea Weber. Many Habs fans thought they got the worst of the P.K. Subban-Weber trade and were very critical of Montreal management. Well after nine games Weber has scored four goals (all on the power play) and registered 10 points to lead all rearguards. He also is first in the league with a plus-12 rating and has even chipped in eight penalty minutes. If that isn't the resume of the NHL's top blue liner, I don't know what is. 
Ryan Dadoun: Just to start off by throwing in my two cents about the Weber-Subban trade, I thought Montreal got the worse end of it and nothing that's happened so far has changed my mind.  There were concerns that Weber was already on a downward slope and certainly his early season work has been an argument against that belief, but the bigger issue in Weber-Subban is long-term.  Weber's older and his $7,857,143 cap hit runs past his 40th birthday whereas Subban will be 33 when his contract expires.  So even if you go into this with the belief that Weber and Subban are of roughly equal value today or that Weber is even slightly better than Subban right now, Nashville still got the far better end of that trade just by getting younger and out of a very risky contract. That all being said, if you look at the fantasy numbers thus far, Weber has given you the most.  I would still rather own Burns or Karlsson because I think they have more staying power at the top of the leaderboard.  In fact if I owned Weber, I would look at now as a potentially good time to trade him in for either Burns or Karlsson, even if you had to throw something else in there to make it happen.  It'd be moving the hot hand for something more reliable if you can pull it off.
Michael Finewax: You can't go wrong with Weber and his play in front of the net has been instrumental in the Habs 8-0-1 start. It's probably a no-brainer two-and-a-half weeks into the season so let's also look elsewhere. Ryan Suter is not known as a big point producer but as an all-round defenseman. This season he has added offense to his game and has three goals and 10 points in nine contests, tying him with Weber atop the NHL leaderboard for blueliners. Suter had 51 points last season and that was being thought of as an anomaly but apparently that may not be the case. The Wild rearguard has never scored more than eight NHL goals in a season but looks like he is well on his way to a big offensive year. While I don't expect him to keep up the pace, he certainly has been a most valuable defenseman in the early going.
Corey Abbott: Shea Weber has certainly impressed after nine games with Montreal.  He already has three game-winning goals, which is a total he scored in 156 contests with Nashville over the last two seasons.  Weber also leads the league with a plus-12 rating. I agree that you can make a strong case for Weber's ex-Predators defense partner, Ryan Suter, as well.  He has always been a workhorse and his offensive contributions have reached another gear.  He had 51 points last campaign and he already has 10 points in nine outings this year.  However, Erik Karlsson is still the king among fantasy defenders for me.  His 1.14 points per game leads all rearguards.  He hasn't been piling up shots like he normally does in the early going, but I expect that will change.
Brian Rosenbaum: Speaking about points-per-game, the Sabres' young star Rasmus Ristolainen has registered seven assists in seven games to keep pace with the likes of Brett Burns and within strinking distance of Suter, Weber and Karlsson in the point-per-game category. I'm not saying he is going to match blueliners of that pedigree this season, but he is an emerging player and is coming off a 41-point season as a 21-year-old on a very bad Sabres' team. 
Ryan Dadoun: Another way to look at this question is by trying to find out which defenseman has given fantasy owners the most bang for their buck by basically surpassing their expectations by the most.  By that standard I think another Canadiens defenseman should be highlighted: Jeff Petry.  He wasn't even taken in the vast majority of drafts, but if you did grab him towards the end of yours then you've gotten two goals, six points (three of them PPP), a plus-one rating, and four penalty minutes in eight games.  I don't expect him to maintain that pace, but just in terms of his early season performance I think he's been the best value pick.

Corey Abbott: Another elite defender, Brent Burns, has been excellent early into the 2016-17 campaign.  He has piled up a league-leading 45 shots in just nine games.  Burns has scored three games and six assists this far, while posting 26 blocked shots to rank second among all defensemen.

Michael Finewax: There is a young kid out there that should be attracting plenty of interest. Zach Werenski has two goals and six points in seven games and the rookie has taken over quarterbacking the Columbus power play from Seth Jones and Ryan Murray. This kid is outstanding and was drafted eighth overall in 2015. He has both goals on the pp as well as an assist. He is not the best defenseman in the NHL by any means but as far as fantasy is concerned, he should be on your radar flashing brightly. 

Brian Rosenbaum
Brian Rosenbaum is the Senior Hockey Editor of Rotoworld.com. He's run the hockey coverage since its inception in 2000.