Dangerous Dion

Scouting defenseman is one of the most difficult tasks a fantasy hockey manager has each season. The reasoning is pretty simple: an average defenseman will never be as productive for your fantasy squad as the typical forward in terms of goals and assists. Does one risk a high draft pick on a blueliner who might score 70 points or take a forward instead who will likely score 90? I don’t know the answer to this question (and even if I did I probably wouldn’t post it) but I do know that Dion Phaneuf is possibly the top fantasy defenseman in hockey, after only playing 1 season in the NHL.First off, I have to state, for the record, that I am a serious Canucks fan. Therefore, I despise the Flames, Oilers, Avalanche, Wild and Red Wings (its a good thing my own team preferences don’t affect my draft choices more, or my fantasy teams would be pretty horrible). Anyway, I feel it is time to give Dion Phaneuf the immense respect he is due, at least from a fantasy hockey point of view. I am not suggesting Dion is currently the best blueliner in hockey today (Nick Lidstrom is the obvious winner here), but when you look at the numbers from the top defensemen in hockey from last year, Dion is right up there with him.

Let me state for the record I am basing this article off of a standard Yahoo league, where goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes and powerplay points are the offensive categories. According to Yahoo’s rankings from last year (which take all of these categories equally into account), Dion was the 4th best fantasy defenseman behind McCabe, Lidstrom and Schneider while finishing ahead of such all-stars as Redden, Pronger, Niedermayer and Chara. Again, I want to clarify these are rankings for fantasy hockey and I am not telling you Brian McCabe is the best defenseman in hockey, I am not that crazy.

Last season, Phaneuf scored 20 goals and finished second among blueliners in that category (Schneider besed him by one) and 7 of those tallies were game winners, tops among fellow d-men. Guys like Kaberle, Pronger and Lidstrom all had many more assists than Phaneuf, but I expect Dion to pick up more helpers with increased playing time and experience. Did I mention last year was Phaneuf’s ROOKIE SEASON? In addition, with Leopold now in Denver, Dion will get more ice time and certainly additional minutes with the man advantage. Although Phaneuf will not be able to compete with Lidstrom or Redden in plus/minus, he should certainly stay on the positive end of the scale, which will give him a fantasy advantage over players such as McCabe and Gonchar. Furthermore, Dion knows how to play physical and drop the gloves when needed and as such 100+ penalty minutes is a very reasonable expectation for next year.

My projections for Dion are as follows, assuming he plays at least 75 games and stays healthy throughout the campaign: 25 goals, 40 assists, +10, 105 PM, 40 power play points and 6 game winning goals. If he can accomplish that, it will be very hard for another blueliner to top Dion Phaneuf as the best fantasy player at that position next year. And even if Lidstrom or McCabe beats Phaneuf 6-category totals, the 21 year old will certainly be a later draft pick and thus a better bargain come draft day.

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15 Responses to Dangerous Dion

  1. GoBruins79 says:

    I feel that it is ok to draft an elite defenseman or an elite goalie early. Simply because there are soo many forwards out there that can score points. But when you think of how many defenseman are out there that get as many points as a forward you should grab him. Otherwise your defense position wont do you much. I wouldnt waste a 1st or 2nd round pick on a defenseman but a 3rd or 4th is good. Goalies on the other hand I feel like after the fifth or sixth pick in the first round is a good choice to pick Kipper or luongo. One goalie can win you 5-6 categories by themselve as opposed to the other categories that are won with i dont know 10 players (however your league is set up)

    Elite goalies win you championships in hockey and fantasy hockey

  2. Yann says:

    Another reason Dion didnt have as many assists as other great d-men is because he was on one of the worst offensive team in the NHL, tough i would put Pronger in front of him, Pronger’s numbers really dont tell the whole story, he is so amazing and plays such a great game

  3. Jrugges says:

    lidstrom still best pick, He’s Mr. Consistant. Even though you’ll have to prolly pick him early like you already stated.

  4. CaptainInsano says:

    Anyone who takes Phaneuf within the first 3 rounds of a Yahoo draft is making a huge tactical mistake.

    He can’t possibly have a season as good as the #31 O-Rank that he has been given by Yahoo.

    Phaneuf’s final ranking last year according to Yahoo was #44 overall, 4th best among defenseman, but his value was greatly inflated by the 7 GWG he was credited with last season. If he had only 2 GWG, his value from last season would likely have been in the low 100’s.

    Taking Phaneuf early could only be justified if you know for a fact that all the other GMs in your league are foolish enough to overlook some of the under-ranked forwards and goalies.

  5. Habfanforever says:

    what do you guys think of this trade I just did?

    to me: Modano, Tuomo Ruutu and Dion Phaneuf

    the other guy: Dany Heatley

  6. avsrule24 says:

    looks like a steal for you.

    Modano’s still got some talent, Dion Phaneuf is well, Dion Phaneuf, and Ruutu’s good.

    Heatley has Spezza and Alfreddson on his line though… who knows…

  7. Atomic_Wedgy says:

    Keeper league: This could work out for you in the long run. Ruutu has a lot of question marks, but he is potentially a franchise forward. Phaneuf is a franchise defenceman. Modano is on his last legs, but should still be worth 70-75 points this year. Modano is 36 years old, not too old by any means, but he might be old enough to slow down considerably. He is a gamble in my books.

    The trouble I have is, in a keeper league, players like Heats (25yo, great +- stats, good PIMs, 50 goals, 100+ pts) are rare. Players like Heats win pools for you. Tough call. If you are planning to win the pool this, you have done the wrong thing. If you are in a bit of a rebuilding phase of your keeper league, you have just taken a bit of a gamble that may turn around and bite you in the ass. If it were me, I wouldn’t have offered that deal. Phaneuf is a player that you should definately be trying to trade for, but players like Ruutu can usually be picked up in your annual entry draft. You most likely would not have to trade Heats in order to pick up Modano. He would go fairly cheaply.

  8. gtweb says:

    Did I say anything about what round you should take him in? No.

    I said he will have the best fantasy numbers among defensemen this year…

  9. CaptainInsano says:

    Did I say that you said anything about what round you should take him in? No.

    I said anyone who takes him within the first three rounds is making a mistake …

  10. ObjectiveImpartiaL says:

    Depends how it is set up. I presume you need so many defencemen. The deal itself is going to loss points for you both this year and next with just these players. Heatley should score just a few players less than the 3 combined this year by himself. In 5 years the way I see it is Ruutu will never be as good as Heatley, but if he prefurms he may be close and the extra points you from Phaneuf will make up for it and then some. So is the risk worth the reward. I don’t know but from the little I know I would think not. A more logical risk IMO would of been to turn it down hope he wins the scoreing race or at least top 3 then make his trade.

    In short I think you made the same mistake most stock brokers say about their average clinet. “Most people sell thier winners and keep thier lossers”

  11. ObjectiveImpartiaL says:

    but it all depends on your team and what kind of draft. If you want to win it this year you replace a 20 point or less defencemen with Phanuef a 65+ point defencemen and heatley a 90 point player with a 60 point player it makes good sence. Expecialy if Heatley goes down. This trade gives you depth. Real depends on your draft and if you think Phanuef was by far the best defencemen now and later of if you could of shoped him around for another defencemen with others like the person with JOHN-MICHAEL LILES, or Buymister.

    If you are looking for another cheap defencemen try Brain Pothier. He goes from a 5th defencmen who should see his minute climb in Washington from the 16:46 a game to about 25 as a guess and see way more PP time. His break out passes to Ovechkin should be worth a few points extra too when Alexander goes coast to coast a few more time this year.

  12. GoalJudge says:

    It depends on the rest of your Defense.

    If your defense is deep, then he won’t matter as much, and you could have got similar production out of virtual unknowns like Anaheim’s Keith Ballard, or San Jose’s Christian Ehrhoff, or Matt Carle. They are all sleeper D-men. Take note.

    So if you have no defense, then you get a bonus. But if you defense is deep, then you could lose out.

    Injuries aside, Heatley is good for at least 95 pts. Depends mostly on how healthy Spezza stays.

    Modano is on the down slope of his career, but can put up good number across all categories. He is a perfect role player, like team mate Morrow. The reason Modano is a risk, is that you could be tempted to move him aside for a higher scorer, who might not get you the other values like PIM, +/-, or PPP and GWG. Center also is the easiest spot to fill so I rarely make a trade for one unless they have High G, PPP and GWG.

    Ruutu, still has to prove something to me. He is good, but you can get another player who gets five less points then him and a much better plus/minus and PIM. He really depends on HAVLAT now, and a shotty defense to ease pressure on Khabibulin. Not likely on that squad.

  13. GoalJudge says:

    Healty is also the top LW in fantasy sports last year, so he is very hard to replace. If you have some one to plug that hole then you should be ok.

    If you picked up Phaneuf as a third or 4th D-man, you could be on the way to a high finish. I have won more than one league with SOLID Goaltending and a deep defense, and a forward squad of second liners.

    If this is your case, keep watchful eye one either sleepers, rookies, and Especially the IR list, as they will provide you with quick jumps to your stable roster, and put you over the top.

    Two seasons ago I hade a solid Defense based team that fluctuated between 1 and 3rd. Then I picked up Forsberg off the IR, and remained in 1st for the rest of the season.

    So be watchful.

  14. Kraftster says:

    I don’t believe that Phaneuf ought to go in the first three rounds in most situations, however, I could see it being a wise decision in some situations, and I have to say that I think you are overlooking something that people commonly do fail to see in fantasy sports.

    Often times people compare players based purely on points. Phaneuf can’t be as good as 31, he will only be, say, 40…..therefore, 32-39 should go ahead of Phaneuf. that’s not necessarily true. One of the biggest things to consider is what the differential will be between Phaneuf (and other elite defensemen) and the next level of D players.

    For instance, if you are picking 25th and you have have Pavel Datsyuk ranked as 20 or so among all players, and dion phaneuf ranked at 40, based purely on statistical ranking, one would probably take Datsyuk, however, you have to look at what you can get in Round 4 or 5 at forward compared with Datsyuk, and what you can get in Round 4 or 5 at D (compared to Phaneuf). If, say, you could take Patrick Marleau in round 4 and Teemu Selanne in Round 5, what is the difference between those 3 players? Say you see Datsyuk getting you 5-7 more points than Marleau and 7-10 more than Selanne. Then, say you line up Rob Blake or JM Liles as potential 4th or 5th round defensemen, but say you see Phaneuf as getting 10-12 more points than Blake and 12-15 more points than Liles, then Phaneuf should probably be taken in that spot. If there is just a negligable difference between waiting one round to get a wing or center, but there is a potentially larger gap in waiting and settling on a later Dman, then go with Phaneuf. Many times there is a quick run on Dmen or wingers in a particular round. When that happens, more often than not, teams will follow suit and pick that particular position. If Lidstrom, Redden, Chara, etc. start popping off the board, I’d stray from my actual rankings and take Phaneuf if it meant the difference between Datsyuk and Gionta or Phaneuf and Blake, etc.

    *Note that the players discussed above were purely for hypothetical purposes, so don’t post about how crazy I am for saying that Datsyuk will only have 7 more points than Marleau or whatever…

  15. Habfanforever says:

    I got him too!

    my defence looks like this:

    Pronger, Pitkanen, Phaneuf, Preissing, Pothier and Paul Martin (NJD) also Dan Hamhuis as a bench player!

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