It’s hard to imagine a more perfect fantasy defenseman than Cale Makar, who combines elite skating and playmaking skills to consistently deliver point-per-game (or better) production from the blue line. Perhaps most importantly, he plays for an excellent Avalanche team, ensuring that his plus-minus rating should be a help as well, especially if Alexandar Georgiev delivers a strong performance in his first season in Denver. The only category in which Makar isn’t a big help is hits, but when you have a defenseman like Makar putting up 80-90 points, it’s easy to find a hard-hitting D-man with a big plus-minus to pair with him.
Moritz Seider enters the top 10 in his second season, and that ranking could easily be too low. His point production probably won’t ever be as prodigious as Makar’s but the 6’4″ rearguard will likely be a Norris Trophy contender many times in the coming decade.
The same is true for Miro Heiskanen, whose second NHL shift provided a perfect encapsulation of what he’s capable of. Heiskanen’s offensive opportunities were squelched somewhat with the presence of Johan Klingberg, but he’s in Anaheim now, and it’ll likely be another season or two before recent acquisition Nils Lundqvist starts pushing for first-unit power play time.
Looking further down the list, Calder Trophy favorite Owen Power debuts at #31 on the list. Like Heiskanen and Seider, he’s expected to rise into the Norris conversation in the coming years. But unlike the aforementioned duo, Power has Swedish rearguard Rasmus Dahlen ahead of him on the depth chart. It’s an embarrassment of riches for the Sabres to have two elite left-shooting defensemen with Norris potential on the roster, but it also means that Power will have a harder time getting the PP time necessary to rise into the top 10-15 blueliners. It might be another year or two before Power starts putting up 50+ point seasons.
If you’re looking for a deep sleeper, the Rangers’ K’Andre Miller could well be on the verge of a breakout season. And while it’s true that power play production won’t be easy to come by with Adam Fox on the roster, it’s also quite conceivable – even in this era where teams routinely skate four forwards and one defenseman on the power play – that Miller could find himself working the point alongside Fox or captain (and regular defense partner) Jacob Trouba. And while Miller’s upside for 2022-23 probably isn’t much beyond 40 points, he should deliver in a big way in the plus-minus and hits categories.
A very similar situation (to Miller’s) exists in Denver, with Bowen Byram is a solid bet to emerge as a top 20 NHL defenseman in the next year or two. However, his power play production potential is suppressed by the presence of Makar (as for Miller with Fox), and he’ll need to generate meaningful even-strength (and second power play) production in order to be an every-week fantasy starter.