Fantasy Hockey Defensemen
I love Alec Martinez. Just not at his price tag. Which fantasy hockey defensemen should you avoid during the 2021-22 NHL season? (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

2021-2022 Fantasy Hockey Defensemen To Avoid

I love fantasy hockey and you should too. After reviewing the forwards you should avoid, it’s time to do the same with the fantasy hockey defensemen for the 2021-2022 season. Drafting defensemen is an art. There are only about 12 worth drafting high while trying to balance how important hits, blocks, assists, and power-play time is. It’s okay to reach for great ones but it’s disastrous to overdraft mediocre ones. Let’s get right down to business.

Alec Martinez (Las Vegas Golden Knights) ESPN 15 (D 3)

I’ll be the first to admit; Trey is a closet Golden Knights fan. This one, however, I can’t get behind. Alec Martinez went undrafted in our league last year during his age 33 season. Now he’s the third ranked defensemen in the entire sport for fantasy hockey for his age 34 season? Not sure that’s how it works.

Listen, I love Alec Martinez. I banged the table for the Knights to keep him this offseason. The dude is tough as hell and he’s more useful than the Great Wall of China when it comes to blocking shots. Let’s face the facts here though. Martinez is the third best defensemen on his own team. Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore are ranked WAY lower.

Martinez likely won’t be a disastrous pick because he’s going to block shots. Still, it’s hard to pull the trigger on Martinez this soon. The Knights defenseman is ranked 15th on ESPN. Sebastian Aho is ranked one spot ahead of him and Patrick Kane is one slot below. What are we doing here?

Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia Flyers) ESPN 24 (D 5)

Ivan Provorov is a good player but he’s not an A. It’s why Philadelphia did everything in their power to land every D-man they could this offseason. In a perfect world, Provorov isn’t trusted to quarterback the powerplay. He’s sloppier at handling the puck at the blue line than I am trying to parallel park and that’s saying something.

There are a lot of moving parts here with the Flyers. Things could change quickly. Would anyone be shocked if Keith Yandle is tasked with first-line powerplay duties? Philadelphia traded for Ryan Ellis for a reason. He could easily be THE guy there too. The risk outweighs the reward here.

Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins) ESPN 51 (D 11)

Kris Letang isn’t good looking and the rest of his teammates are falling apart. Sid the Kid isn’t healthy and neither is Evgeni Malkin. That’s bad news for Letang who needs those guys in order to pick up assists. I’m selling the Penguins stock in general. Anybody not named Jake Guentzel I really just have no interest in using a high pick on.

Dougie Hamilton (New Jersey Devils) ESPN 52 (D 12)

Dougie Hamilton is by far the most interesting name on the list. He’s also the name I feel the most comfortable avoiding at his current draft price. Fantasy aside, Hamilton is a very skilled offensive player. He also loves going to the penalty box just to stay in shape.

Two things can be true here. I think Hamilton probably helps Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier take steps forward. Hughes and Hischier still aren’t close to Sebastian Aho and whoever else you want to use on Carolina. At least not yet. Here is the problem. To get the bang for your buck with Hamilton, you’re essentially saying the Devils offense can replicate what Carolina did last year. Not a chance in hell.

The grass isn’t always greener. Hamilton got the bag but his high ranking feels like it is the result of getting excited over a new destination. Hamilton will get you points but I can’t imagine there isn’t a step back here from a point distribution standpoint.

Jacob Trouba (New York Rangers) ESPN 59 (D 13)

I was the idiot that drafted Jacob Trouba over Adam Fox a year ago. I’m a smarter and more matured man today. Learn from your mistakes and overcome them. Trouba might get in the way of some shots but his offensive game is essentially a zero. Trouba had two goals and 12 assists in an all around mediocre season. Fox is the main trigger on the powerplay anyway.

At some point, we just need to acknowledge the Rangers whiffed. Figure it out before the fantasy rankers do. Neal Pionk, the guy the Rangers gave up in the Trouba deal, is just a much better player and ranked WAY lower.

Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings) ESPN 64 (D 14)

The LA Kings are a bad hockey team. As I mentioned in the forward post, I just don’t trust their offense. Doughty will probably be fine but I worry about the point production. If you’re picking the most flimsy candidate on the list, it’s this one. Doughty is still a good player and should have juice left in the tank. Call it a gut feeling.

Rasmus Ristolainen (Philadelphia Flyers) ESPN 67 (D 16)

I’ll leave this one up to young Andrew. Every piece of evidence you want to use suggests that Rasmus Ristolainen stinks. Those are his words, not mine. Although, I’ll follow suit and agree. Is Ristolainen getting a high ranking because he’s a good player or because he isn’t on the Sabres anymore? I’ll go with the latter.

Mark Giordano (Seattle Kraken) ESPN 71 (D 17)

Mark Giordano feels more locker room leader than real contributor. Counting on the Kraken to have the same immediate success as the Golden Knights is a mistake. If you’re going to take a shot on a Kraken defender, Vince Dunn is the one with REAL upside. Even Adam Larsson has a higher floor. I’ll pass.

Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers) ESPN 87 (D 22)

This isn’t a shot at Aaron Ekblad but did you see the way that guy broke his leg last year? Just a really risky bet he’s the same guy. Not to mention that fact, Florida might have a real star and it’s not Ekblad. MacKenzie Weeger is sneaky good. I’d rather target him.