This week’s installment of Phoenix Coyotes fantasy hockey revolves around defensemen. Defensemen often get lost in the shuffle of scoring forwards and goaltenders, but are a vital part to any fantasy team. Many leagues use hits and blocked shots as categories, which only increase the usability of defensemen. In most leagues, you have to start at least two defensemen anyway.
Some Coyotes defensemen will find their way on to many fantasy rosters this season, the most famous one being Keith Yandle. Yandle has been thrown in the spotlight over the past two seasons by being elected to two consecutive all-star games. Yandle is ranked as the 13th best defenseman on Yahoo, meaning he should be owned in all leagues that use defensemen. Yandle had 11 goals, 43 points and a +5 rating last season. Yandle provides consistent 40+ point scoring and a high amount of shots on goal.
The lesser-known star (outside of Coyotes nation) is 21-year-old Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson is ranked as the 51st best defenseman on Yahoo. He scores 13 goals and 32 points while having an even plus/minus. Ekman-Larsson is a bonafide double-digit goal scorer who will only improve with age. He provides solid shot and hit totals to go along with his scoring. Players should monitor him throughout the season as a 20-goal, 45-point season is not out of the question.
The new addition and old friend to the team, Zbynek Michalek, is ranked by Yahoo at number 84 among defensemen. Michalek had only 13 points last season but had the 29th most blocked shots among NHL defensemen. Michalek has led the league in blocked shots in the past and could be a solid weekend pickup if you are low in the shot blocking category.
Rusty Klesla, Derek Morris and whoever wins the sixth defenseman slot will not see too much time on anyone’s roster. Klesla ranked 25th among defensemen in blocked shots and had more than 100 hits. Neither player will provide enough in any category to warrant a full-time roster spot. If Brandon Gormley or David Rundblad grabs that sixth spot, they should see some power play time.