With so many first-year players thriving from a fantasy standpoint this season, it's easy for Brenden Dillon's name to get lost in the shuffle.
But if you're in a deep league looking for a defenseman who provides category coverage to fill a roster spot, there are not many better options than the Dallas Stars rookie.
An undrafted prospect who was signed by the Stars in March of 2011, Dillon has emerged as a full-time defenseman for Dallas. The 22-year-old picked up his second multi-point game of the season Tuesday, posting two helpers in the Stars' overtime triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dillon was credited with the secondary assist on Loui Eriksson's overtime winner, displaying tremendous poise in the offensive zone to set up the game-winning sequence.
He's seen action in all 20 of Dallas' games so far, logging the sixth-most ice time per game among rookie defensemen (19:48). Dillon also hasn't been stingy in terms of category coverage, providing a boost in deep leagues at a position that lacks punch on the waiver wire.
Among rookie defensemen, Dillon trails only Justin Schultz of the Edmonton Oilers and Dougie Hamilton of the Boston Bruins in points (6) and shots on goal (37). He's also second in PIMs (24) and tied for fourth in rating (plus-5) among all rookie skaters in 2012-13. While his game remains a work in progress, he's given owners a reason to take notice of what he's done, especially considering his age and lack of experience at the game's highest level.
He's been inconsistent in terms of point production and has seen minimal ice time with the man advantage (0:32 PP TOI/game), but both trends could change if the Stars continue to like what they see as they pursue a spot in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dallas currently dishes out power-play time to more experienced blueliners in Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas, but their current unit lacks a difference-maker at the position.
Dillon (owned in nine percent of Yahoo! leagues) saw a two-percent value jump overnight after his strong showing against Columbus, meaning he should no longer be overlooked from a fantasy standpoint. Whether that means you take a flyer on the young defenseman or simply add him to your team's watch list, it's worth pursuing.
As NHL.com correspondent Brian Metzer mentioned in his latest "On the 'D'-Fence" column, Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi had a four-point outburst earlier this week that led to a notable fantasy value spike.
Considering Josi's sudden surge, Fantasy owners can benefit from buying low on young blueliners with potential. That's why it couldn't hurt to pick up Dillon before he becomes a household name.
Follow Pete Jensen on Twitter: @NHLJensen
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