NHL Fantasy Playoff Sleepers - Defensemen
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
If you're anything like me, you're probably just a few days/hours/minutes away from your Playoff Pool Draft. But here you are in your flip flops, you haven't watched a game in over four months, and you're wondering if the players are anywhere near as out of shape as you feel.
Nevertheless, opportunity knocks. Now is the time to do that last minute research you know your buddies haven't done yet. It's time to start nailing down some sleepers for a Covid Cup Run.
Some Pools require you to pick Defensemen, others do not. I'm assuming we are doing a fairly deep pool here, maybe going 200 players deep. Don't forget playoff longevity is probably the single biggest factor in our decision-making process during this pool.
My definition for a Sleeper is the following: Any player who falls outside of the NHL.com's Top 100 List. This means players who will likely be drafted Round 9 or later.
Here are your 2020 NHL Playoff Fantasy Hockey Defensemen Sleepers.
NHL Fantasy Playoff Sleepers - Defensemen Edition 2020
1. Oscar Klefbom - Hard to believe he isn't in the Top 100. Things finally seem to be coming into place for this potential star on the backend. Despite yet another injury in his young career, Klefbom had himself an excellent season. He has solidified himself as the top D on the PP in Edmonton, which is like gold. The Edmonton Oilers this season went 29.5% on the Power Play, which is the best Power Play in this league dating back 40 years (it's even better than the 1983-1984 Oilers). The Oilers feel like a team which could really go far this year. I would be very bullish on the Oilers this postseason.
2. Alec Martinez - You might find yourself in need of a late round D. May I suggest Alec Martinez? Since joining the Knights he has 8 points in 10 games. Everyone remembers his work with the Kings during their playoff runs. I would obviously pick Shea Theodore before Martinez. But if you're betting on the Knights going far, and that's a pretty good bet, Martinez could be a real diamond in the rough, and a nice long play late in the Draft. Most people forget he's even playing.
3. Jaccob Slavin - Often mentioned for the dubious Jonathan Toews Award as the "Best player who isn't so great in Fantasy", everyone knows how good Slavin is on the ice. But let's not overlook him too quickly for Fantasy. Last year, Slavin put up 11 assists in 15 games during the Hurricane Playoff Run. We're not getting a lot of news out of the Dougie Hamilton camp, but it appears as though he might not be available for the Canes. This will mean Slavin will have to step up. I don't like the matchup against the Rangers, but then again the Canes beat the Washington Capitals in the First Round last season. So, for sure some questions. Here's another: Why can't they repeat what they did last year?
4. Keith Yandle - It's hard to believe Yandle doesn't appear on NHL.com's Top 100. Now, I did not like Yandle's second half of the season (6 points in his final 20 games). But he is still the top dog on the Power Play, on a team which can put up many points quickly. Most people are turning a cold shoulder to the Panthers, so you might be able to get last year's 3rd highest Power Play Point Producer on the cheap.
5. Matt Niskanen - This is the definition of a Sleeper Pick. Most people of course have Ivan Provorov on their radar, he comes in at #78 on the NHL's List. But Niskanen has quietly proved himself to be invaluable to this Flyer Team. Niskanen had 14 points in his final 19 games, and was seeing some key power play time. If you are going Flyers, Niskanen would be a great Round 10+ steal. Personally, I think this pick has some serious potential.
6. Ryan Ellis - Ryan Ellis really seems to be coming into his own. Since the departure of PK Subban, Ellis has taken a step up for the Preds, delivering 38 points in 49 games this season. That's a blistering pace for a Defensemen. He missed all of January and most of February, so most people might be sleeping on Ellis. But don't worry, the injury didn't slow him down. He had 10 points in his final 10 games. Nashville, and Ellis, may surprise a lot of people this season. Interesting side note: You can spell the word "Ellis" using the letter in "Nashville". It's like he was born to play there.
7. Ryan Suter - Suter was the second-leading scorer on the Wild this season. Matt Dumba seemed to struggle, and it was Suter who picked up the slack by taking over on the Top PP. Most pundits have picked Vancouver to win that series, but I believe it is closer than people think. The Wild have a sneaky team here. The West is more open than the East. If you have nothing else, and you need a D, I think Ryan Suter is a fine choice Round 10+.
8. Mikhail Sergachyov - Here's a much "sexier" pick. Sergachyov seems like a fan favourite for many people, and for good reason. He is an emerging star who has seen his ice time and opportunity increase all season on one of the best teams in the League. Tampa has so far been an absolute terror in 2020, and there is good reason to believe they will go far. Having Sergachyov on your team as a late flier will give you access to that deep run, as well as giving you the deep satisfaction of hearing everyone else curse the moment you pick him in Round 10 or later.
9. Ryan Pulock - He's definitely not the most memorable player on the list. I feel like everyone on the Isles are named either Pulock or Pelech or some variation of that. But, despite their lack of name recognition, the Islanders might go on another Cinderella Run this year. They swept the Penguins last year after all. Their brand of fast, hard-nosed hockey seems to overwhelm their opponents. The problem with picking Islanders, is they don't score many goals. In any event this is the long game, and you would be picking Pulock believing the Islanders will outlast the Panthers. If you believe that, you might be able to get 10 games, and 5 points out of Pulock. More if they go crazy, which could very well happen.
10. Jakub Chychrun - I will admit, I do not like the Coyotes' chances this year. I do not like their matchup against the Preds not one bit. The 'Yotes have gone 14-21-4 since acquiring Taylor Hall, which is absolutely dreadful. Still, we're beginning a "new" season now. The Arizona Goalies which were their strong suit all season are back and healthy. Chychrun has an absolute bomb from the point. I think he will eventually overtake OEL as the Top D in Arizona. And the recent news is OEL was just injured in practice. Chychrun could be worth a flier in the late rounds.
Bonus: Shea Weber - This is a total homer pick. But Weber is super fun to have in Pools. You could probably get him in like Round 14+ too. Most of us agree the Habs don't have much of a chance here, but if they do, it will be because Weber will evolve into beast mode. If you find yourself in Round 14 and you don't like anyone else on the board, take Weber. Why not? He probably won't be a deciding factor in anyone's pool. He's just so much fun to have on your team.
Thank you for reading our list of NHL Playoff Fantasy Hockey Sleeper Defensemen. If you haven't already had a chance to read our Sleeper Forward List, here it is right here!
We also have a Podcast with some really deep analysis and interesting interviews from people around the game. There are some other Blog Posts for you to read through as well. Thank you for visiting our page. :)
Please leave any comments or questions below. And if I missed any of your favourite sleepers on this list, please let me know! I have a Pool to prepare for as well!
Good luck in your Pool everyone!