Fantasy: 3 improved defense corps that will lead to better goaltending

Andre Ringuette / National Hockey League / Getty

Goalies can't do it all on their own.

As the last line of defense, the man in the crease needs plenty of help from the men in front of him to keep the puck out of the net.

To that end, here are three improved defense corps that will lead to better goaltending in 2017-18.

Dallas Stars

To say the Dallas Stars have needed to shore things up in their own zone would be a massive understatement.

With high expectations - boosted by one of the NHL's top offenses - the Stars' defense and goaltending have let the club down time and time again, as evidenced by team save-percentage totals in recent years, per Sporting Charts:

Season Team Save % Rank
2016-17 .893 30
2015-16 .904 25
2014-15 .895 29

The addition of Ben Bishop in net will certainly help, but even the best goalies will struggle if left out to dry time and time again.

As such, general manager Jim Nill went out and added Marc Methot by way of the Vegas Golden Knights. Deployed largely alongside Erik Karlsson last year, Methot was a key member of the Ottawa Senators, who tried desperately to avoid losing him in the expansion draft.

His stabilizing presence in Dallas, along with the full-time arrival of a highly touted rookie in Julius Honka, should help the likes of John Klingberg (Methot's likely partner), Esa Lindell, Stephen Johns, and Dan Hamhuis keep the puck as far away from Bishop as possible.

Arizona Coyotes

In the midst of a serious rebuild, Coyotes general manager John Chayka took advantage of a rival's cap issues, scooping Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Chicago Blackhawks at the cost of Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin.

With Chicago, the 30-year-old Hjalmarsson was one of the most effective shutdown defensemen on one of the league's top teams of the past decade. He regularly recorded a positive plus-minus rating, and - more specifically and importantly - was on the ice for more shot attempts for than against.

The loss of Jakob Chychrun to a knee injury will hurt a bit, but Hjalmarsson's stay-at-home presence will free up OIiver Ekman-Larsson to make his magic all over the ice and help Antti Raanta establish himself as a bona fide starting goalie, thereby putting the team closer to where it wants to be.

Calgary Flames

The Brian Elliott experiment didn't work out as planned for the Calgary Flames last season, prompting yet another move in net. Enter Mike Smith, who was acquired from the aforementioned Coyotes by GM Brad Treliving, who's quite familiar with the veteran from his time as an assistant in the desert.

There'd be every reason not to expect a marked improvement in net following this somewhat lateral move, were it not for another trade pulled of by the Flames this offseason.

With the addition of Travis Hamonic, Calgary now boasts a top-four defensive unit that arguably stacks up against any other group around the NHL, including the formidable Music City quartet who recently propelled the Predators to the Cup Final.

Roman Josi Mark Giordano
P.K. Subban T.J. Brodie
Ryan Ellis Dougie Hamilton
Mattias Ekholm Travis Hamonic

Smith isn't seen as an elite option in net, especially at this stage of his career. But with that defense in front of him, he'll be given every opportunity to succeed, much to the benefit of fantasy owners.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

Fantasy: 3 improved defense corps that will lead to better goaltending
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