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On the 'D'-fence: Deadline D-men on the move

Wednesday, 04.03.2013 / 12:00 PM
Brian Metzer  - NHL.com Correspondent

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.

The NHL Trade Deadline is upon us and by 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, a number of players will have changed zip codes.

In recent years, the weeks leading up to the deadline have contained as much, if not more action than deadline day itself and that was again the case this season. Of importance here are the 11 defensemen that have changed teams over the past two weeks.

Not all of these moves are fantasy worthy, but a handful of players have seen their value bolstered by a recent change of scenery and could offer support to your team now or in the future.

Marc-Andre Bergeron may not be among the best blueliners when it comes to play in his own zone, but he has long been an above average offensive player and is on his way to Carolina, where he'll get a chance to play on a power play with the likes of the Staal brothers, Alexander Semin and a host of other talented forwards.

Bergeron played his first game with the Hurricanes on Tuesday night, amassing 21:31 TOI. He also skated 4:24 with the extra man, notching an assist on a first-period power play.

He has averaged just .48 points per game over his career, but he has averaged .56 and .55 in two of the past three seasons. He is an intriguing pick-up as fantasy teams enter the final week of the regular season or the first week of their playoffs.

Another veteran who will play his next game with a new team is Jay Bouwmeester, who leaves a rough situation in Calgary to join the St. Louis Blues. Bouwmeester has just 15 points this season, but will likely be paired with Kevin Shattenkirk or Alex Pietrangelo and could be store for some power-play time. The move will certainly boost in his plus-minus.

The Blues also acquired Jordan Leopold, who posted a career high 35 points in Buffalo during the '10-11 season. He made his debut with the Blues on Monday night and skated alongside Shattenkirk. He didn't pick up any points, but logged two shots on goal, a plus-1 and skated 35 seconds on the power play.

TJ Brennan and Nate Schmidt find themselves in interesting situations -- one via trade and the other as an unrestricted free-agent signing.

Brennan was recently traded by the Buffalo Sabres to the Florida Panthers, where he has logged regular minutes with the team. Though he has picked up three points and nine shots on goal in seven games, his real value is likely in dynasty or keeper leagues.

The 23-year-old Brennan was a big scorer in the American Hockey League, where he averaged .56 points per game over 225 games with Portland and Rochester. He really blossomed this season when he notched 35 points (14G) in 36 games.

Schmidt is also more of a long-term option, but he could pay dividends this year. The University of Minnesota product just signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Washington Capitals and will practice with the team tomorrow.

While everyone has been talking about Andrej Sustr and Danny DeKeyser, intriguing players in their own right, Schmidt may be the best fantasy option. He notched 73 points (12G) in 82 games over the past two seasons at Minnesota and has been described by Hockey Prospectus as “instantly becoming Washington's top young defense prospect.”

The trade deadline creates a lot of opportunities and that holds true for fantasy line-ups as well, so go out and secure the services of some or all of the above.

TRENDING UPWARD

P.K. Subban, Canadiens -- Subban has become the entire package this year and shouldn't have to be featured here, but after taking over the No. 1 spot in our rankings, it is warranted. Subban has six points (one goal) over his past three games and now has 28 points, 88 shots on goal, and 19 power-play points on the year. His 10 goals lead all defensemen and he should be owned or acquired in every format.

Mike Green, Capitals -- Don't look now, but Green is again vying for your attention. The talented, yet frustrating rearguard has picked up five points (four goals) in his past three games and is looking a bit like the guy who used to score 65-plus points per season. His ownership has slipped to 72 percent in Yahoo! fantasy leagues, so he may be on the wire in yours.

Nick Leddy, Blackhawks -- Leddy has taken huge strides forward this year and most of them seem to power him through the defense of the opposition as he leads the Hawks offensive attack. He has used strong skating and keen hockey sense to pick up seven points over his past eight games. He now has 16 points, six goals, 47 shots on goal and a plus-16 rating on the year, and is becoming a must-own player.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Jason Garrison, Canucks -- Garrison has been a fantasy disappointment this season. He has notched just eight points on the season, one in his past eight games. He has just two power-play points on the season, an area he excelled in with while skating with the Panthers last season. It is time to move on to other options.

Paul Martin, Penguins -- Martin is listed here not due to performance, but for injury. If you have him, it is time to drop him, as he is slated to miss the rest of the regular season and possibly the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after having wrist surgery.

Joni Pitkanen, Hurricanes -- Pitkanen is another player who makes the list due to injury. He was racing back to beat out an icing play in the Hurricanes loss to the Capitals on Tuesday night and his leg jammed into the boards. He is expected to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

TJ Brodie, Flames -- Call it a gut feeling, but the Flames just shipped out Bouwmeester and there could be more moves on the way. That could lead to an increased workload for Brodie. The youngster has just eight points, 29 shots and a minus-9 rating on the season, but he has offensive upside. Keep an eye on him; he could be in for a boost.

TOP 60 FANTASY DEFENSEMEN

These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings -- NR means not ranked in previous rankings. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.

1. P.K. Subban, Canadiens (+4)

2. Ryan Suter, Wild (+1)

3. Shea Weber, Predators (-1)

4. Dustin Byfuglien, Jets (same)

5. Kevin Shattenkirk, Blues (+3)

6. Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings (+1)

7. Zdeno Chara, Bruins (-1)

8. Kimmo Timonen, Flyers (+3)

9. Dion Phaneuf, Maple Leafs (+4)

10. Tobias Enstrom, Jets (-1)

11. Alex Pietrangelo, Blues (-1)

12. Keith Yandle, Coyotes (same)

13. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (same)

14. Andrei Markov, Canadiens (+4)

15. Sergie Gonchar, Senators (same)

16. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (+1)

17. Alexander Edler, Canucks (-1)

18. Dan Boyle, Sharks (+1)

19. Michael Del Zotto, Rangers (+2)

20. Slava Voynov, Kings (+2)

21. Mark Streit, Islanders (-1)

22. Brian Campbell, Panthers (+4)

23. Drew Doughty, Kings (same)

24. Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres (-1)

25. Francois Beauchemin, Ducks (+3)

26. Justin Schultz, Oilers (+4)

27. Marek Zidlicky, Devils (same)

28. Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks (+1)

29. Alex Goligoski, Stars (+2)

30. Sheldon Souray, Ducks (+3)

31. Dennis Wideman, Flames (+3)

32. Lubomir Visnovsky, Islanders (same)

33. John Carlson, Capitals (+2)

34. Brent Burns, Sharks (+2)

35. Matt Carle, Lightning (+3)

36. Victor Hedman, Lightning (+1)

37. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers (+4)

38. Cody Franson, Maple Leafs (+4)

39. Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets (same)

40. Jason Garrison, Canucks (same)

41. James Wisniewski, Blue Jackets (NR - Injury)

42. Dan Hamhuis, Canucks (+2)

43. Nick Leddy, Blackhawks (+6)

44. Mike Green, Capitals (NR)

45. Marc-Andre Bergeron, Hurricanes (NR)

46. Jake Muzzin, Kings (same)

47. Mark Giordano, Flames (-2)

48. Kevin Bieksa, Canucks (-1)

49. Dougie Hamilton, Bruins (+1)

50. Roman Josi, Predators (-2)

51. Cam Fowler, Ducks (same)

52. Patrick Wiercioch, Senators (+1)

53. Erik Johnson, Avalanche (-1)

54. Jared Spurgeon, Wild (+2)

55. Sami Salo, Lightning (-1)

56. Jake Gardiner, Maple Leafs (-1)

57. Fedor Tyutin, Blue Jackets (-1)

58. Matt Niskanen, Penguins (same)

59. Ryan Whitney, Oilers (+1)

60. Matt Irwin, Sharks (-1)

* Was listed on IR in last week's rankings

Injured: Erik Karlsson, Kris Letang, Justin Faulk, Marc Staal, Raphael Diaz, Joni Pitkanen, Paul Martin, Andrej Meszaros, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Wilson

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