2016 Outlook: He's the best defenseman in fantasy hockey and it's not even close. It would take a lot of improvement from P.K. Subban to close the gap on just how good Karlsson is for fantasy numbers. Two straight seasons with 20 goals and over 65 points is ridiculous from the blue line, and his near 300 shots are what you might expect from a forward. In fact, because Karlsson puts up stats like a forward and plays 27 minutes per night, there is a clear argument to have him in the top 10 overall. He gives you that much of a strategic advantage with his production, as he is in that top defenseman tier all by himself, head and shoulders above the next best option. There is no reason not to expect more of the same from Karlsson this season as he has put up the same numbers in his past three healthy seasons.
2016 Outlook: Will Big Buff and his expiring contract (2016) be traded during the regular season? Will he serve regularly as a forward or defenseman, or both, in 2015-16? Irksome unknowns, sure, but what isn't in question is Byfuglien's potential as a fantasy beast. When healthy and motivated, the hybrid skater has the wherewithal to put up serious figures in certain categories -- goals, assists, power play points -- and dominate in others, such as shots and PIM. Plus, performing for a new deal will undoubtedly motivate the 30-year-old all the more. We like him as a second- or third-round (if you're lucky) draft pick in most standard leagues.
2016 Outlook: The real question is whether or not we've seen the peak of P.K. Subban yet. If we haven't -- and it's possible we haven't since the star defenseman is only 26 years old -- peak Subban could be a scary place. Subban continued to improve last season, pushing to a new career high in goals, assists, points, plus/minus and ice time. There is a fair bit of separation from Subban to Erik Karlsson as fantasy hockey's best defenseman, but that gap could potentially close if Subban continues on his upward trajectory as he comes into his prime. The Habs power play should remain a source of value for Subban, as the seemingly ageless Andrei Markov makes for the perfect partner on the man advantage. It's conceivable that Subban adds another minute or two to his average ice time per game, which was a career high at just over 26 minutes per contest last season.
2016 Outlook: Sizzling from start to finish, Burns collected 17 goals and 43 assists, including 24 power play points, in 2014-15. The top power play anchor also registered 245 shots, 65 PIM, and averaged nearly 24 minutes per game. The only fantasy blemish? A season's tally of minus-nine, which is a negligible turn-off by any owner's standards.
2016 Outlook: A choice fantasy defenseman since George W. Bush was president, Weber remains a top contributor in shots and average ice-time. He's no slouch contributing in other categories either. Snag him as your own No. 1.
2016 Outlook: The Blackhawks' top D-man endures as a fantasy darling in that he checks most of your boxes (exception: penalty minutes), without blowing the roof off any one category. One the game's best blueliners offers more comforting reliability, if less flash.
2016 Outlook: If it wasn't for a nasty abdominal injury, we would be talking about Shattenkirk's career year in 2014-15. Sidelined through most of February and March, the Blues' top offensive-defenseman registered only 44 points and a club-leading 25 power play points in 56 games. Top anchor with the man-advantage, the 26-year-old is a No. 1 D-man in just about any fantasy league.
2016 Outlook: Weber's usual blueline buddy at even-strength and with the man-advantage, Josi hit a new high in 2014-15, collecting 15 goals and 40 assists (plus-15). Like his partner, the 25-year-old Swiss star also sees loads of ice-time and likes to shoot. Just don't ask for many penalty minutes.
2016 Outlook: Another well-rounded fantasy asset, the Flames' captain satisfies most categories in standard ESPN leagues. Our only real concern regarding Giordano is his durability. The top pair D-man has missed approximately a quarter of each of the last two seasons with a variety of injuries. It is worth mentioning, though, that he put up 48 points in only 61 games last year. Hopefully he can stay on the ice through 2015-16.
2016 Outlook: Second banana to Kevin Shattenkirk -- at least from a fantasy perspective -- Pietrangelo boasts plenty of charm in his own right. One of the league's top defensemen overall, the 25-year-old satisfies the majority of relevant fantasy categories, including total scoring, power play points, and shots. He also ranks in the NHL's top-10 in average more ice-time.
2016 Outlook: Realistically, the Coyotes' only legit superstar is the one member of the club worth considering in your draft's early rounds. Leading Arizona in scoring in 2014-15, 20 of Ekman-Larsson's 43 points were accrued on the power play. With Keith Yandle out of the picture, the 24-year-old defenseman is saddled with even more offensive responsibility. Count on hefty minutes, solid scoring numbers, and an exceptional shot total from the durable young D-man. Just ready yourself for a disconcerting plus/minus rating.
2016 Outlook: In 21 games after coming over from the Arizona Coyotes at the trade deadline, Keith Yandle only managed nine assists and 11 points. But with a complete offseason and training camp to conform to the New York Rangers, look for production much closer to what we have become used to from the offensively gifted blueliner. Don't forget he scored 26 power play points with the Coyotes in 63 games before the trade deadline last season, and 31 points the season prior. Yandle is an elite power play quarterback and he will be given every chance to win that role with the Rangers this season. The other good new is Yandle was a combined minus-55 with the Coyotes during the past two seasons, but a plus-6 with the Rangers to close out last season. Even with his terrible plus/minus, he was a top 20 fantasy defenseman. He could be top 12 with a solid plus/minus.
2016 Outlook: Are we all that scared of Kris Letang's injury history that we are overlooking the fact that he scored a career high 11 goals and 54 points last season? In just 69 games, too? Well, after a heart condition two seasons ago and another in a long list of concussions last season, yes, we are pretty concerned. That said, Letang has the talent and supporting cast to be among the top three fantasy defensemen. He's deadly on the power play and, although it defies logic, the Pittsburgh Penguins power play got even better with the acquisition of Phil Kessel. But while the ceiling is incredibly high, the basement is also very low. Letang is far from a sure bet to stay healthy all season. Drafting him is a matter of measuring that risk against the reward and we do suggest you already have your team's core before taking a shot.
2016 Outlook: Even with Mike Green present, John Carlson took the next step and established himself as a No. 1 fantasy defenseman last season. With the players in front of him and his role on the power play cemented, Carlson will continue to pile up the stats. There is no longer competition for the power play minutes, which could even work to pad Carlson's final tally a little bit this season, but he really doesn't have that much more room for improvement from 55 points. Brooks Orpik has a positive influence on Carlson as a defense partner and the two could play a few more minutes this season, which would also work to bolster Carlson's counting stats.
2016 Outlook: There's no longer any question as to who's the top offensive-defenseman in Colorado. Not after last season. Collecting 12 goals , 41 assists, and 16 power play points -- despite the squad's anemic rate of success with the man-advantage -- Barrie solidified himself as the team's go-to guy in key scoring situations. And we don't expect either Nikita Zadorov or Francois Beauchemin -- new prospective defensive partners -- to cramp the 24-year-old's style. While Barrie doesn't yet belong in the elite category of fantasy D-men, he's not that far off.