Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com Correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy defensemen in our weekly segment: "On the 'D'-fence." From updated defensemen rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Metzer will be your fantasy d-man expert all season long.
New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow has gone about his business a little differently than some of his peers, but his approach is starting to right the ship on Long Island. He has acquired some valuable assets such as Evgeni Nabokov and Brian Strait via the waiver wire, as well as made timely trades to bring in additional talent like high-scoring defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.
Visnovsky, who was acquired on day one of the 2012 NHL Draft, wasn't exactly eager to report to the Islanders, but he finally arrived this past weekend and seems primed for a productive season.
The native of Topolcany, Slovakia had a forgettable 2011-12 season with the Anaheim Ducks, at least by his standards, as he notched just 27 points (six goals). He was dealing with a variety of injuries, including a broken finger that impaired his game from the start. His struggles could also be tied to the fact that he was in a tumultuous situation that ultimately resulted in a coaching change and his being traded.
He is now healthy, and even at the ripe old age of 36 should begin to produce like the player that scored 68 points (18 goals) just two seasons ago.
Visnovsky emerged as a valuable fantasy commodity during the 2005-06 season while skating with the Los Angeles Kings. The talented rearguard exploded for 67 points (17 goals) and has averaged .67 points per game since. It is worth noting he actually produced at a rate of .84 points per game three times between that breakout season and today.
As power-play quarterbacks go, there aren't many better than Visnovsky, who has picked up close to 50 percent of his career points (223) while manning the point with the extra man. Of his 27 points last season 37 percent of them came on the power play.
Even though the Islanders already have a talented offensive defenseman in Mark Streit, Visnovsky will get the chance to skate with the top power-play unit. He has already provided some dividends from that spot, as he notched two power-play assists on Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
As with Streit, plus-minus will be a concern, especially with the Islanders mired in a five-game losing streak, but the positives far outweigh the negatives in this situation. Visnovsky is capable of providing production in multiple categories -- goals, assists and power-play points -- and is skating over 20 minutes per night. He has also averaged 1.74 shots per game over his career, and that should continue this season.
Visnovsky has already picked up the aforementioned two points, to go with four shots on goal, and has managed to keep an even rating, all while his team has allowed nine goals in the two games he has played.
If you are looking for backend production on the waiver wire, now is the time to grab Visnovsky. He is currently owned in just 37 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues, something that is sure to change in the coming weeks.
Andy Greene, Devils -- Greene had a breakout season back in 2009-10 when he scored 37 points (nine goals) but quickly fell off of fantasy radars when he answered it with a 23-point season in which he registered an abysmal minus-23. Could he be approaching the form of three years ago? It seems he might be, as he has already collected eight points in 13 games this season. He is getting time on the power play, where he had picked up five points. He has also notched a shorthanded goal. The Devils' rearguard could be a nice source of production during this shortened season. He is owned in just 51 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Marc Staal, Rangers -- It took a couple weeks for Staal to get going for the Rangers, as he picked up just one point in his first four games. He has since picked up six points in his last 10 games, and looks like he could be a nice source of production playing in a lineup that features a good bit of star-power. Staal has seasons of 27 and 29 points on his resume and was trending upward until concussion issues derailed him last season. He is now healthy and could be flying under the radar in your league. He'll help with PIMs (10), plus-minus (plus-4), and provide a boost in goals, assists and shots on goal. He is owned in just 23 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey Leagues.
Brent Burns, Sharks -- Though he hasn't flown out of the gates after making his season debut on Saturday, Burns is finally healthy and ready to alleviate some of the pressure on Dan Boyle in the Sharks lineup. He has just three shots on goal, four PIMs and a minus-2 to show for his work to this point, but he will get power-play time and has huge goal potential, having hit the 15-goal plateau twice in his career. Burns is owned in just 59 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues and might have been overlooked in yours.
Tyler Myers, Sabres -- Myers broke onto the fantasy scene with 48 points as a rookie back in 2009-10, but has gone inexplicably downhill ever since -- and this season might end up being his worst showing yet. He's notched just one goal through 12 games and has registered a minus-9. His shots on goal are even down, as he's averaging just one per game.
Ryan Whitney, Oilers -- Whitney has had some very successful offensive seasons, but since spending the last couple of years dealing with lower-body injuries he's been a shell of his former self. He has seen his minutes cut and has actually spent three of the past five games in the press box. He logged just three assists and a minus-6 through 10 games. Unless he is traded out of Edmonton, Whitney is likely not going to help your team.
Ian White, Red Wings -- White looked like he would be a nice source of production, getting minutes on the power play and skating at times with Niklas Kronwall, but that hasn't been the case. He was derailed by an injury early in the season and hasn't done much offensively since returning. White has just two points (one goal) on the season, to go with a plus-3 rating and six shots on goal. We'd only suggest holding him in the deepest of leagues.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Cody Franson, Maple Leafs -- Many in Toronto have been waiting for this youngster to blossom, and it seems to be happening under coach Randy Carlyle. Franson seems to have a level of consistency in his game that has been absent in the past and is riding a four-game scoring streak that has seen him pick up five assists. He now has eight points (one goal) on the season and looks like he'll be a sneaky source of production for owners savvy enough to grab him. He's owned in just 12 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
TOP 60 DEFENSEMEN RANKINGS
1. Erik Karlsson, Senators (same)
2. Alex Pietrangelo, Blues (+2)
3. Kevin Shattenkirk, Blues (+2)
4. Kris Letang, Penguins (-2)
5. Alexander Edler, Canucks (-2)
6. Tobias Enstrom, Jets (same)
7. Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings (+2)
8. Zdeno Chara, Bruins (-1)
9. Dustin Byfuglien, Jets (-1)
10. Brian Campbell, Panthers (same)
11. Shea Weber, Predators (+1)
12. Dan Boyle, Sharks (+1)
13. Kimmo Timonen, Flyers (+2)
14. Michael Del Zotto, Rangers (-3)
15. Keith Yandle, Coyotes (-1)
16. Ryan Suter, Wild (+1)
17. Mark Streit, Islanders (-1)
18. Dion Phaneuf, Maple Leafs (+2)
19. Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets (same)
20. Drew Doughty, Kings (-2)
21. Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres (same)
22. Justin Schultz, Oilers (+1)
23. P.K. Subban, Canadiens (+2)
24. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (+3)
25. Joni Pitkanen, Hurricanes (-3)
26. Sergei Gonchar, Senators (-2)
27. Andrei Markov, Canadiens (+3)
28. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (-2)
29. Lubomir Visnovsky, Islanders (NR)
30. Dennis Wideman, Flames (-2)
31. Brent Burns, Sharks (NR)*
32. James Wisniewski, Blue Jackets (NR)*
33. Alex Goligoski, Stars (-1)
34. Mark Giordano, Flames (-5)
35. Sheldon Souray, Ducks (+1)
36. Matt Carle, Lightning (-5)
37. Dmitry Kulikov, Panthers (-4)
38. Raphael Diaz, Canadiens (-4)
39. Mike Green, Capitals (-4)
40. Kevin Bieksa, Canucks (+1)
41. Jason Garrison, Canucks (-1)
42. Marek Zidlicky, Devils (-5)
43. Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks (-1)
44. Slava Voynov, Kings (+4)
45. John-Michael Liles, Maple Leafs (-2)
46. Andy Greene, Devils (NR)
47. Tyler Myers, Sabres (-10)
48. Travis Hamonic, Islanders (-4)
49. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers (+1)
50. Dan Girardi, Rangers (+1)
51. Victor Hedman, Lightning (+4)
52. Dougie Hamilton, Bruins (-3)
53. Nick Leddy, Blackhawks (-6)
54. Paul Martin, Penguins (+3)
55. Ian White, Red Wings (-9)
56. John Carlson, Capitals (-4)
57. Justin Faulk, Hurricanes (-3)
58. Tom Gilbert, Wild (-5)
59. Fedor Tyutin, Blue Jackets (-3)
60. Mark Staal, Rangers (NR)
* Was listed on IR in last week's rankings
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