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 insider all season long.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison was never a huge scorer, picking up just 26 points (seven goals) over his first 113 NHL games. That changed during the 2011-12 season with the Panthers when he put up 33 points in 77 games, including 16 goals, which was second to only Erik Karlsson and Shea Weber.
Garrison hit the free agent market following that breakout season and signed a monster deal with the Canucks that paid him $26.7 million dollars over six years. That kind of contract carries a certain amount of pressure.
The White Rock, British Columbia native saw his goals per game drop from .21 during that final season in Florida to .17 in his first season in Vancouver. He saw his points per game drop from .43 to .34. That kind of drop off in production had many fans and hockey pundits around North America scrutinizing the deal and calling it a bad one for the Canucks.
The lockout-shortened season skewed a number of player's statistics and a case could be made that the season Garrison turned in probably wasn't a good indicator of how he would eventually be able to perform after going through a proper training camp.
While his first year in Vancouver might not have been perfect, he did manage to run up an impressive plus-18 rating, which put him in a four way tie for third in the League as the season came to a close.
As Garrison settled in, the offense came and he piled up eight of his 16 points over the final 11 games of the season.
What you need to know now is that Garrison is building upon the positive way that he came down the stretch one season ago. He is putting up 2.82 shots per game, including a 10-shot game against Montreal back on Oct. 12, and that has helped him notch an impressive nine points (two goals) in 11 games this season.
He has been a factor on special teams as well, picking up a goal and an assist on the power play, and earning three points (one goal) while his team has been shorthanded.
Garrison is owned in just 82 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, which shows some folks are still a bit skeptical. You shouldn't be one of them, as he seems destined for a season that could see him shatter his career high of 33 points.
Erik Karlsson, Senators -- Karlsson is a must-own player but he limped out of the gates this season, picking up just two points in his first five games. That has changed over the past week as he has started to look like himself in picking up four points (one goal) over his past three games. Karlsson also logged eight shots over that span and has skated over 30 minutes in two of three games. We wanted to see if he was healthy; it is safe to say he is.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Sharks -- Vlasic isn't a household name in terms of fantasy production, but he has been a factor this season as the Sharks pile up a ton of goals on a nightly basis. He started the season with a four-game scoring streak that saw him pick up two goals and three assists, and he has added two more assists over his last three games. He isn't shooting the puck a ton, with just nine shots on the season, but he has already blocked 18. We're not sure this can keep up, but you should ride the hot streak.
Jay Bouwmeester, Blues -- Bouwmeester hasn't been able to reach the offensive highs of his final season in Florida, but this could be the year. He is on a very good team and is logging big minutes in all situations. After picking up three assists in his last two games, he has five on the year. He is also shooting the puck with frequency, picking up 18 shots through seven games.
Tyson Barrie, Avalanche -- Barrie has been unable to build on the success of last season and the youngster has worked himself in coach Patrick Roy's dog house. Though he picked up an assist in his first game, he was held off the board in his next three and has been a healthy scratch for five games in a row.
Alex Goligoski, Stars -- Goligoski has never been able to harness the offensive potential he showed in Pittsburgh and is again struggling. The Minnesota native is still looking for his first point on the season and is sitting on an ugly minus-10 rating.
Sergei Gonchar, Stars -- Gonchar joins his former Penguins teammate in struggling in Dallas. He has picked up one assist on the season, has just eight shots on goal and has rolled up an ugly minus-6 rating. He has the ability to bounce back at any time, but it just isn't happening right now.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Ryan Murphy, Hurricanes -- The 12th player selected in the 2011 NHL Draft is finally getting a chance and taking advantage of it. He has picked up three points in his last four games, including his first career goal. He has launched 13 shots on goal and though his ice time has fluctuated quite a bit from game to game, looks like he could be a very viable fantasy option for owners moving forward.
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 (same)
2. Erik Karlsson, Senators (+2)
3. Shea Weber, Predators (+3)
4. Dustin Byfuglien, Jets (-2)
5. Alex Pietrangelo, Blues (-2)
6. Ryan Suter, Wild (-1)
7. Tobias Enstrom, Jets (+2)
8. Dion Phanuef, Maple Leafs (-1)
9. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (-1)
10. Mike Green, Capitals (same)
11. Zdeno Chara, Bruins (same)
12. Keith Yandle, Coyotes (same)
13. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (+2)
14. Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings (same)
15. Kevin Shattenkirk, Blues (-2)
16. Brian Campbell, Panthers (same)
17. Justin Schultz, Oilers (+1)
18. Drew Doughty, Kings (+1)
19. Cody Franson, Maple Leafs (+1)
20. Jason Garrison, Canucks (+2)
21. Slava Voynov, Kings (same)
22. Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets (-5)
23. Alexander Edler, Canucks (+2)
24. Justin Faulk, Hurricanes (+2)
25. Dennis Wideman, Flames (-2)
26. Mark Streit, Flyers (-2)
27. John Carlson, Capitals (same)
28. Matt Niskanen, Penguins (NR)
29. Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks (+3)
30. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Sharks (NR)
31. James Wisniewski, Blue Jackets (+4)
32. Paul Martin, Penguins (+2)
33. Matt Carle, Lightning (+3)
34. Michael Del Zotto, Rangers (-5)
35. Andrei Markov, Canadiens (+2)
36. Mark Giordano, Flames (+2)
37. Alex Goligoski, Stars (-7)
38. Sergei Gonchar, Stars (-7)
39. Kimmo Timonen, Flyers (-6)
40. Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres (+1)
41. Francois Beauchemin, Ducks (-1)
42. Victor Hedman, Lightning (-3)
43. Cam Fowler, Ducks (same)
44. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers (-1)
45. Marek Zidlicky, Devils (+6)
46. Jay Bouwmeester, Blues (+11)
47. Dougie Hamilton, Bruins (+1)
48. Dmitry Kulikov, Panthers (+2)
49. Dan Hamhuis, Canucks (-4)
50. Travis Hamonic, Islanders (+2)
51. Jake Gardiner, Maple Leafs (-2)
52. Torey Krug, Bruins (+1)
53. TJ Brodie, Flames (+1)
54. Jared Spurgeon, Wild (NR)
55. Patrick Wiercioch, Senators (+3)
56. Derek Morris, Coyotes (same)
57. Seth Jones, Predators (NR)
58. Zach Bogosian, Jets (-3)
59. Sami Salo, Lightning (+1)
60. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Blackhawks (-1)
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Tyson Barrie
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