1. Mike Green, Washington Capitals – When you are an offensive defenseman on the most talented team in the NHL, then you are going to rack up the points. When you have speed, shot and instincts that Mike Green has, you are one of the best players in the league.
2. Drew Doughty, LA Kings – Doughty made huge strides last year and showed on the biggest stage in Vancouver that he was ready to be great. I expect major strides offensively this year, which should also enable him to push Green for most points by a blueliner.
3. Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks – What more can be said about Dan Boyle he won a Cup in Tampa after being in exile in South Florida. Once he was given a shot he has been in amongst the leaders in points for defenseman every since. Expect no difference from Boyle again this year.
4. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks – Second to Mike Green in points last year with 69, however I would expect Keith to take a slight step back this year. Not because of his ability but more because the Defending Champs have just been killed by the salary cap this Offseason.
5. Dion Phanuef, Toronto Maple Leafs – Have we all forgotten Dion’s first 3 years in the league. He was a monster on the blue line. Greatness was a forgone conclusion for Phanuef, but then things went down hill in Calgary. He now has to feel that he has been pardoned as he starts the second act of his career as the Captain for Toronto. That is going to enable him to take his rightful throne at the head table of his position.
6. Shea Weber, Nashville Predators – Weber is a sleeper guy at his position. With as often as he shoots the puck, 3rd in the league last year for defenseman, scoring 25 goals may not be that much of a stretch.
7. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins – Chara had a down season which mirrored the rest of the team last year. Didn’t play horrible just not up to previous seasons for Chara. You wonder if age is beginning to catch up with Zdeno. Not so fast my friend Chara is not done and you will see a rise in his stat sheet again this year as he will climb to closer to 15 goals and a bit north of 50 points from him this year.
8. Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres – Think of Myers as a younger Chris Pronger, a big defenseman as rookie that surprised the entire league with how well he played last year. Quietly the kid scored 48 points and you can easily see that figure climb even more next year.
9. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings – One of the best defenseman this league has ever seen. Lidstrom continues to play at the top of his game. He skills have eroded a little but his smarts makes up for the lack in foot speed. Expect nothing less again this year from Lidstrom as the Red Wings maybe more talented in 2010-2011.
10. Sergei Gonchar, Ottawa Senators – Gonchar’s own zone play as dropped a little as he ages but as a quarterback on a power play there is probably not a better one in the NHL. He scored 50 points last year in just 60+ games. I not sure about the Sens as a team this year so you may see Gonchar’s production just a bit this year.
11. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers – Pronger is a machine, he wills his teams to win. He went to the finals with Edmonton, won a cup with Anaheim and last year Pronger got his Flyer team to the finals as a seventh seed. So doubting Pronger and saying he will be start to take steps back is a dangerous thing to do.
12. Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks – Speed to burn, good offensive instincts on a high powered offense. However Campbell does not produce as much as his paycheck may suggest. However with all of the losses in talent Chicago has lost in the offseason Campbell is going to be relied on to produce this year.
13. Erik Johnson, St Louis Blues – Johnson was a highly touted player coming into the league. Johnson heading into his third year in the league and you would expect him to make a major increase in production. With 39 points last year any increase in production points him in the low 50s in point production.
14. Mark Streit, New York Islanders – How many people know that Streit is a guy who has scored constantly since entering the league. He scored 49 pts last year which is the lowest point total in the last three years. So Streit is a guy that you could draft and get production.
15. Christian Ehrhoff, Vancouver Canucks – Ehrhoff came over to Vancouver last year from San Jose and he enjoyed a significant increase in production. He was able to score 14 goals last year with 6 coming on the power play.
16. Joni Pitkanen, Carolina Hurricane – Solid vet player, good on the power play nice shot. Able to produce from the blue line.
17. Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs – I think everyone is waiting for Kaberle to get traded. There were talks with New Jersey during the draft. Kaberle is a productive guy, who is a leader. He will give you 40+ points again this year for who ever brings Kaberle aboard.
18. Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadians – Big shot and the big reason the Habs had one of the better power play units last year.
19. Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta Thrashers – A guy that if you weren’t paying attention Enstrom finished the year in the top 10 in scoring by a defenseman. I am not sure he should be in that class just yet. However Enstrom may be a top 10 guy next year if he is able to duplicate his 50 points.
20. Ian White, Calgary Flames – Ian White was the reason that Calgary felt good enough in letting Dion Phaneuf go to Toronto. White has a monster shot with great production on the power play.
21. Stephane Robidas, Dallas Stars – 7 power play goals last year had Robidas in the top tier of blue liners. Add that to 40 points and Stephane is a productive guy.
22. Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim Ducks – 15 goals and 45 points last year between Edmonton and Anaheim last year. Visnovsky is a good vet guy who should fit nicely in Anaheim.
23. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins – Letang benefits from playing with all the talent around him. He is not a to tier guy but could produce as one because of the likes of Crosbay, Malkin and Staal.
24. Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild – 40 plus points in three straight seasons.
25. Brian Rafalski, Detroit Red Wings – Once a top tier guy who is finally showing his age a little bit. However even has his age Rafalski can skate with the anyone in the league. He is able to still be very good on the back line on your power play unit.
Best of the Rest
26. Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary Flames
27. Alex Edler, Vancouver Canucks
28. Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins
29. Joe Corvo, Carolina Hurricanes
30. Pavel Kubina, Tampa Bay Lightning
31. Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers
32. Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators
33. Kurtis Foster, Edmonton Oilers
34. Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes
35. Brian Rafalski, Detroit Red Wings
36. Matt Carle, Philadelphia Flyers
37. Bryan McCabe, Florida Panthers
38. Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks
39. Jack Johnson, LA Kings
40. Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers
41. Ryan Whitney, Edmonton Oilers
42. Sheldon Souray, Edmonton Oilers
43. Dennis Wideman, Boston Bruins
44. Flip Kuba – Ottawa Senators
45. Jon Michael-Liles, Colorado Avalanche
46. Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings
47. Adrian Aucoin, Phoenix Coyotes
48. Anton Stralman, Columbus Blue Jackets
49. Alex Goligoski, Pittsburgh Penguins
50. Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix Coyotes