2018 Outlook: Keith looked as spry as ever in his 12th NHL season, finishing with his third best point total (53) and third best rating (plus-22) of his career. The lifetime Blackhawk remains one of the best two-way defensemen in hockey, having topped 40 points in eight consecutive non-lockout campaigns while sporting a career rating of plus-172. You'll be lucky to get double-digit goals from him, but Keith should once again dish out plenty of helpers to Chicago's skilled forwards while also playing on the top power play unit. Just be prepared for him to miss the odd game here and there, as the 34-year-old blueliner hasn't suited up for every contest in a season since 2010-11.
2018 Outlook: Giordano has been one of the most well-rounded players in hockey over the past four years with averages of 15 goals, 48 points, a plus-10 rating and 53 PIM. The veteran blueliner has also put up at least 14 power play points and 150 shots on goal in over 23 minutes of ice time during each of those four campaigns despite twice missing at least 18 contests. He's one of the rare assets that can truly be relied upon to contribute in every single category as long as he stays healthy for a Flames team that should be in the mix for a playoff berth.
2018 Outlook: Schultz's emergence last year made Kris Letang's extended absence much easier to swallow, as the former Edmonton blueliner chipped in 20 of his 51 points on the power play while ranking in the top-10 league-wide with a plus-27 rating. He'll see a reduced role with the extra man as long as Letang's healthy, but should maintain a prominent presence at even strength while holding solid value in Pittsburgh's high-scoring lineup. Schultz's game could still be growing at age 27, so he possesses plenty of upside for the defending champs.
2018 Outlook: Suter has been the backbone of Minnesota's blue line, missing just five games in five seasons with the team while racking up 204 points and a plus-68 rating. The former Predator's durability and strong two-way play have earned him an incredible amount of minutes, as he has finished among the league's top three in ice time every year since 2010-11. His ability to contribute in all situations while playing on a highly skilled Wild team gives Suter a high floor all around, but he'll be hard-pressed to reach 50 PIM or double-digit goals.
2018 Outlook: McDonagh's a fabulous all-around contributor, having chipped in at least 32 points, a plus-11 rating and 113 shots on goal in each of the past five non-lockout seasons. Just 28 years old and surrounded by a strong supporting cast, few defenders come with a higher floor than New York's durable captain. While matching last year's career-high 15 power play points will be tough with free agent signing Kevin Shattenkirk likely taking over as the lone defenseman on the top unit, McDonagh has a chance to offset that decline by taking his even-strength success to new heights now that possession-anchor Dan Girardi is off his pairing. A top-30 finish at his position is nearly guaranteed, and McDonagh has the combination of ability and situation to push into the top 10.
2018 Outlook: Subban adjusted well to his move from Montreal to Nashville, reaching the 40-point mark for the fourth consecutive campaign despite missing 16 games. One of the league's most exciting defensemen, Subban boasts career 82-game averages of 52 points, 23 power play points and 94 PIM. He's not the best in his own zone, but the rest of Nashville's elite blue line can help cover any mistakes while allowing Subban the freedom to work his magic with the puck on his stick. The 2007 second-rounder's career track record suggests a healthier and more productive campaign is on the way.
2018 Outlook: Finally able to stay healthy for a full season, Klefbom recorded 12 goals and 38 points last year. While he was never able to fully secure the quarterback gig on the No. 1 power play unit, Klefbom averaged 2:31 of ice time with the man advantage. However, with Andrej Sekera (knee) expected to miss approximately a month and a half to begin the 2017-18 campaign, the door is now wide open for Klefbom to take the job and run with it. Additionally, it's worth noting that Klefbom was the defenseman that played with Connor McDavid most frequently last year, and the duo combined for 4.86 goals per 60 minutes. Klefbom also registered an impressive 201 shots last season, so he offers tremendous upside entering his age-24 campaign.
2018 Outlook: With Kevin Shattenkirk out of the picture, the path is clear for Parayko to take another step forward in his third season in the league. He has compiled 33 and 35 points through his first two years, respectively, and should now be given a larger role in all situations. It's worth noting that it was Alex Pietrangelo who jumped into the top offensive role -- including quarterbacking the No. 1 power play unit -- once Shattenkirk was dealt last season, though. Even still,, Parayko's career trajectory and extra minutes are an encouraging combination for his fantasy upside. Additionally, the increased role should help him provide production in the peripheral categories, which also makes Parayko a high-floor asset.
2018 Outlook: In a devastating development, the Predators announced that Ellis will miss the first half of the season due to a knee injury. He burst onto the national scene with five goals and eight assists in 22 games during last season's run to the Stanley Cup Final, but had been quietly impressing for the Predators well before then. While the undersized 2009 first-rounder took a while to acclimate to the NHL game, he has shown steady offensive growth by progressing from 27 to 32 to 38 points over the past three seasons. Ellis also owns a plus-38 rating in that stretch, and upon his return, he should continue to pile up impressive numbers as an integral part of Nashville's stacked top four on the blue line.
2018 Outlook: Ekman-Larsson's fantasy numbers dipped significantly last season, as he declined to just 12 goals, 39 points, and 145 shots with a crippling minus-25 rating. He scored an unsustainably high 27 power-play points in 2015-16, so Ekman-Larsson's drop in power-play production to eight goals and 19 points was the main culprit for his offensive slide. With Arizona re-tooling its roster during the offseason to align with an influx of young talent, Ekman-Larsson is primed for a rebound showing in 2017-18. Additionally, his even-strength production has remained relatively consistent throughout his career, which is an encouraging sign. It's worth noting that he suffered a minor knee injury on Sept. 23, leaving his status questionable heading into the team's season opener on Oct. 5 against Anaheim, so owners should monitor his availability closely.
2018 Outlook: Martinez took a step forward last year while logging a career-high 21:38 of ice time (2:10 with the man advantage) and also posted a personal-best 39 points. It was a significant fantasy boost alongside excellent peripheral coverage, as Martinez has averaged 134 shots, 125 blocked shots and 150 hits over the last two years. His ability to drive possession (54.3 Corsi For percentage in 2016-17) fits perfectly with the Kings, and the 30-year-old defenseman should continue to be leaned on again this season. Although another strong fantasy campaign is well within reach, being behind Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin on the depth chart slightly limits Martinez's upside.
2018 Outlook: Carlson is coming off an average season by his standards -- nine goals and 28 assists over 72 games to go along with 16 power play points. With the Capitals having acquired the renowned Kevin Shattenkirk as a rental player, the American rearguard went from a plus-13 rating before the trade deadline to a minus-5 and a corresponding 18-percent decline in offensive production by the end of the regular season. Making matters worse, Carlson chipped in a mere four points in 13 playoff games, but Washington let both Alzner and Shattenkirk walk as unrestricted free agents in the offseason. This affords more opportunities for the 27-year-old, especially with rookie Christian Djoos expected to follow his lead on the second pairing. Don't be surprised to see a reinvigorated Carlson heading into his ninth NHL campaign.
2018 Outlook: While Gostisbehere definitely didn't succumb to a full-on sophomore slump last season, he did fail to repeat his dominance as a rookie in 2015-16. Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch five times, posted a crippling minus-21 rating and saw a decline in ice time and points per game. Still, Gostisbehere's 1.57 points per 60 minutes ranked 13th among all defenseman with at least 750 minutes, and he recorded seven goals, 32 assists and 23 power play points. All said, aside from the disastrous plus-minus rating (an issue for most of the Flyers), Gostisbehere turned in another strong fantasy campaign. His upside is sky high, and the 24-year-old defenseman projects to continue being an offensive force for years to come.
2018 Outlook: Even though Trouba was at odds with the Jets and didn't end his contract holdout until Nov. 7 of last year, the husky defenseman established a new career high in points at 33 (eight goals, 25 assists) over 60 games. A demand for a larger role played into the 2012 ninth overall pick's decision to wait out a new deal, and it seems as though that paid off based on his garnering 24:58 of average ice time -- second on the team only to Dustin Byfuglien and his 27:27 mark. Trouba has only 17 power-play points over 271 career games, but he's only 23 years old with his prime years still ahead. Look for him in fantasy drafts once the elite blueliners are off the board.