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Fantasy hockey roundtable: Defenseman edition

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Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the defenseman position going into the 2016-17 NHL fantasy draft season, courtesy theScore's team of fantasy experts:

Who is most likely to challenge Erik Karlsson for the top fantasy option at the position?

Esten McLaren: If one defenseman can return more value than Karlsson in fantasy hockey, it's Nashville Predators D P.K. Subban. He has had three consecutive seasons of 50-plus points, while playing alongside D Andrei Markov. He's likely to be paired with Roman Josi in Nashville at both 5v5 and on the power play. Both players could reach 70 points.

Josh Wegman: Though Karlsson should be the first D off the board in every draft, Subban could challenge him. Moving from an offensively-challenged team run by conservative head coach in Michel Therrien to a coach with a more offense-first approach from Peter Laviolette should do wonders for the creative D-man. Pairing up with Josi is a huge upgrade over Markov.

Jason Wilson: It has to be San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns. While some regression could be in the offing, he has scored between 17 and 27 goals in each of the last three seasons with plenty of hits and blocks for banger league aficionados. No other defenseman, not counting Karlsson, offers the firepower Burns does.

Which second or third year player will take the step to becoming a star this season?

Wegman: Though it usually takes a defenseman four or five seasons in the league to truly flourish, I think New Jersey Devils D Damon Severson could have a breakout year. He probably won't ever be a star, but he could be an adequate fantasy D-man. He will be logging huge minutes and quarterbacking a power play featuring LW Taylor Hall and RW Mike Cammalleri.

Wilson: I'm not picking Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere; he was so good in his rookie campaign, he's already a star. He doesn't need any more steps. Instead, it's St. Louis Blues sophomore Colton Parayko, who was especially dynamic early in the season when Kevin Shattenkirk was out of the lineup for an extended period.

McLaren: Minnesota Wild D Matt Dumba scored 10 goals and 26 points last year, while averaging just 16:50 in ice time. He should play on the second pairing alongside either Marco Scandella or Jonas Brodin. A defensively-responsible partner would give Dumba a longer leash on the offensive end, aiding a Wild team which finished in the bottom half of the league in goals.

Is there a stay-at-home defenseman owners should be targeting in standard leagues?

Wegman: In standard leagues, no. There is no point in drafting a D-man who isn't at least willing to jump into the rush with frequency, whether he has the ability to finish or not. Fifty defensemen finished with at least 30 points last season. There are plenty of puck-movers, rush-joiners and power-play specialists to go around.

Wilson: Targeting? No. Standard leagues focus too much on goal scoring to readily rely on a player who doesn't tally points on the regular. It is worth considering New York Rangers D Dan Girardi or Pittsburgh Penguins D Olli Maatta. Neither were big on points, but were valuable because of a high plus/minus and skated around 20 minutes per game.

McLaren: Stay-at-home defensemen from teams with excellent overall offenses are a great source of late-round value. This year I'll be targeting either or both of Dallas Stars blueliners Dan Hamhuis and Johnny Oduya. Both players will have many opportunities to luck into assists or score goals of their own. At the very least, they'll end the season with good plus/minus ratings.

What is your bold prediction for the defenseman position for 2016-17?

Wegman: Boston Bruins D Torey Krug will finish the season with 60 points and will be a top-5 fantasy D-man. He was unlucky last season; only five of his 19 5v5 assists were secondary assists. His 1.6-percent shooting rate was also very unlucky. Despite these factors, he still managed to gain 44 points, and he should be in line for an increased workload this year.

Wilson: P.K. Subban will score more goals than Shea Weber. Much was made over the Canadiens getting the better defenseman. Weber scored 20 goals while Subban scored six last year. Subban is already considered the more valuable fantasy defenseman based on preseason rankings, but he'll cement this status with his highest career point total, dwarfing Weber's production.

McLaren: Ottawa Senators D Dion Phaneuf will score 50 points - something he hasn't done since 2007-08 while with the Calgary Flames. Phaneuf will have an excellent opportunity while skating beside Karlsson on the Senators' top power-play unit. Phaneuf didn't score a single power-play goal last season, but he could approach double digits for the first time since '07-'08.

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