1. Nicklas Lidstrom - St Nick is proving to the world that life does exist after 40. Lidstrom won his 7th Norris trophy last season and only trails behind Bobby Orr in that category. His skills have slightly diminished, but he's still very talented, has a great team around him and is still playing like one of the greatest of all time.
2. Shea Weber - I can't help but wonder what his stats would be like if he were on a good team. Right now, talent wise, Weber is the best all around defenseman in hockey. However, his team holds him back and keeps his numbers down. Weber has a fantastic shot (which has actually gone through the net on more than one occasion) and he's a terrific point man on the PP. Should Weber find himself on another team next year **cough**detroit**cough**, he'll be a lock for the top spot.
3. Mike Green - One word can sum up Green's 10-11 season... frustrating. Green got injured early on, rushed back and never really got into the flow of things, got injured again... it was a disaster. He's 100% again now and should get back to where he was a couple years ago as one of the league's premier offensive defensemen that can match some top tier forwards in terms of fantasy points.
4. Duncan Keith - Maybe it was the Stanley Cup hangover, but Keith did not play like a Norris trophy winner last season. Keith dropped 17 points and went from a +21 to a -1. The talent is there (I think), but he really struggled last year and if he has another season like last year, I think it might be time to drop him even farther on this list.
5. Drew Doughty - Another good young promising defender that struggled last season was Doughty. He really made a name for himself during the 09-10 season and during the Olympics with his strong play, but last season was a shadow of his former self. Now he's in the midst of a contract negotiations that have led to him not showing up for camp. I'm going to assume he'll be back in time to take part in preseason games, but if he misses all of camp and shows up later in the season, I would bump him down on this list.
6. Dan Boyle - If you're looking for consistency and you can't get Lidstrom, Boyle is your guy. Boyle skills work perfectly with the Sharks system and its resulted in 3 straight 50+ point seasons.
7. Chris Pronger - Assuming that his injury problems are, in fact, behind him, Pronger should get back to his elite level status. The Flyers may be a team in flux right now, but they still have a strong defensive core with Pronger leading the way.
8. Lubomir Visnovsky - The point leader among defensemen last year falls to 8th. While he was the points leader, I believe that had more to do with a lot of the better defenseman struggling, than his performance. Having said that, he's an excellent powerplay quarterback and has plenty of weapons up front.
9. Keith Yandle - Here's another player where his location and teammates hurt his fantasy value. Yandle would be stellar on another team, but unfortunately he plays for Phoenix, a team that is now missing their best player (lost to FA), Ilya Bryzgalov. You can expect some decent offensive numbers, but his plus minus won't be good.
10. Zdeno Chara - The captain of the Stanley Cup champs is a defenseman pretty much any team would welcome. For a defensive minded defenseman, he puts up solid scoring numbers. However, around 40 points is usually his max, so unless your league counts hits, his value isn't as good in fantasy as it is in real life.
11. Dustin Byfuglien - Big Buff was a monster on the blueline for the Thrashers last year, almost playing the position like a 4th forward and will look to duplicate that in Winnipeg this year. However, reports are the Big Buff is a littler "bigger" than he used to be. I guess we'll have to wait and see, but being too big and playing hockey don't generally mix well.
12. Christian Ehrhoff - The Sabres wanted him and wanted him badly. No longer playing with the Canucks and the Sedin twins will hurt his value pretty bad. I'm sure Buffalo will use him as often as possible, but when you go from playing with Hart and Art Ross trophy players to the Sabres rag tag bunch, his number will have to decline.
13. Brent Burns - Its believed that if Burns ever played for a team that would take advantage of his talents, he would really excel. Well now is his chance. He was traded to the Sharks this past offseason and should fit right into this system just like Dan Boyle did.
14. Tomas Kaberle - Seriously, who leaves the Stanley Cup champs to go play for the Hurricanes? For real. Fortunately, picking where you play isn't a fantasy category, so Kaberle is in the clear. The Canes aren't exactly loaded with offensive weapons, but Kaberle might be exactly what they needed to get more out of their forwards.
15. James Wisniewski - One of the Jackets big off season acquisitions was the Wiz kid. Another guy that followed the money, actually has a ton of potential. With two different teams last year, he finished with over 50 points. However, I think going to Columbus won't be very beneficial for his stats even with the upgrades at forward. At the end, I think he'll wish he joined a better team and not just followed the money.