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.
Fantasy hockey shouldn't be complicated.
At the end of the day you want to discover and roster the players that will score and set up the most goals, and in some hockey pools that is all you need. Like the game that is actually played on the ice, if you score more than the other team you are going to win, but it isn't always that simple in leagues that track stats above and beyond those counting by standard scoring.
We are all guilty of dumbing the game down to goals and assists at times, while we neglect categories like hits, blocked shots or the one we'll discuss today, power-play points. Power-play points can be tough to come by, and that stems from the fact most teams only have five to eight players that log significant ice time with the extra man.
That number shrinks to three or four per team in terms of defensemen who log time with the extra man, so it becomes a bit more important to try to predict future performance based on ice time and other variables.
We'll try to help you do that today.
Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators), P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens), Brian Campbell (Florida Panthers), Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings), Andrei Markov (Canadiens), Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Phoenix Coyotes) are the only defensemen in the league who average over four minutes of ice time per night with the extra man.
Of that group all but Campbell (84 percent) are owned in 94 percent or more of Yahoo Fantasy Hockey leagues, so it is unlikely you'll find them on the waiver wire or on the trade block. There are a handful of players who fall into the next tier, however, that are probably available in your leagues.
Christian Ehrhoff (Buffalo Sabres), Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks), Sami Vatanen (Ducks), Ryan Murphy (Carolina Hurricanes) and Roman Josi (Nashville Predators) are owned in 57 percent or less of Yahoo leagues, but all average over three minutes per night with the extra man. Fowler is the only one of that group who has posted more than four power-play points on the season, with eight, but when predicting future performance these players could be a good place to start.
Though all shots on goal aren't high percentage, you have to assume that shots coming on the power play are a significant indicator of production that could be coming. With that in mind, we looked at the top shot producers with the extra man and found a few of them that may actually be available on the waiver wire.
The league leader in the category, Subban (42 shots), as well as the Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (27 shots), Ekman-Larsson (23 shots), Markov (22 shots), Doughty (22 shots), and Letang (21 shots) aren't going to be available, but these guys likely will be: Jason Garrsion (40 shots) of the Vancouver Canucks is owned in just 40 percent of leagues. John Carlson of the Washington Capitals (22 shots) is owned in 76 percent of leagues and Torey Krug (Boston Bruins) and Dan Boyle (San Jose Sharks) (20 shots each) are owned in 75 and 86 percent of leagues respectively.
Lastly, these players may not log quite as much time as some of the guys we mentioned above, but they are making the most of their opportunities, have put up decent power-play numbers and are significantly under-owned.
Eric Gelinas (New Jersey Devils) has eight power-play points and is owned in just eight percent of Yahoo leagues, while Fedor Tyutin (Columbus Blue Jackets) has six power-play points and is owned in 27 percent of leagues and Jakub Kindl (Detroit Red Wings) has five power-play points and is owned in just three percent of leagues.
The bottom line is there are definitely players available that can help you win your power play category on a weekly basis, even if it means you stream them through your lineup as needed.
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings -- Kronwall is always a must-own defensemen, but somehow he ends up being forgotten by owners who seem to think he is still playing behind someone like Nicklas Lidstrom. That isn't the case, and he is collecting points in bunches. He is currently riding a six-game point streak that has seen him score two goals with nine points. He pushed his season total to 21 points (three goals), with a plus-12, 45 shots on goal and 10 power-play points.
Jan Hejda, Colorado Avalanche -- Though Hejda will never be the No. 1 fantasy defenseman on your roster, he has produced like one over the past six games. He has three points over his past four games and four in his last six. What really makes him attractive is a plus-17 rating, perfect for the owner who has a No. 1 defenseman who likes to take chances. Great depth grab.
Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames -- Wideman got off to a hot start this season, picking up eight points in his first 12 games. He then hit a bit of a dry patch that saw him post just four points over his next 12 games. That production caused his ownership to slip a bit, but his value took a big hit when he broke his hand blocking a shot last week. The injury will put him out for upwards of two months.
Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils -- Zidlicky's production started to regress with the emergence of Gelinas. He is currently riding a six-game scoreless streak and actually has picked up just four points in his last 17 games. That is not the stuff of fantasy championships, so look elsewhere for your production. Maybe Gelinas is available in your league.
KEEP AN EYE ON …
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames -- Giordano has been out since Oct. 21 after breaking an ankle, but will return to the lineup Wednesday. He took his first full-contact practice and could give a boost to a unit that has lost Wideman. Giordano plays upwards of 25 minutes per night, skates on the power play and had nine points (two goals) in just eight games at the time of his injury. His ownership has fallen to 29 percent, so he could be available in your league.
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. Erik Karlsson, Senators (same)
2. P.K. Subban, Canadiens (+1)
3. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (+2)
4. Dustin Byfuglien, Jets (-2)
5. Alex Pietrangelo, Blues (-1)
6. Ryan Suter, Wild (same)
7. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (+2)
8. Kevin Shattenkirk, Blues (+2)
9. Shea Weber, Predators (-2)
10. Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings (+4)
11. Kris Letang, Penguins (+1)
12. Zdeno Chara, Bruins (-1)
13. Keith Yandle, Coyotes (-5)
14. Drew Doughty, Kings (-1)
15. Mike Green, Capitals (same)
16. Dion Phaneuf, Maple Leafs (same)
17. Brian Campbell, Panthers (same)
18. Cody Franson, Maple Leafs (+2)
19. James Wisniewski, Blue Jackets (-1)
20. Tobias Enstrom, Jets (-1)
21. Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks (+1)
22. Jay Bouwmeester, Blues (+1)
23. Justin Schultz, Oilers (-2)
24. Jason Garrison, Canucks (+3)
25. Andrei Markov, Canadiens (+4)
26. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers (+4)
27. Dan Boyle, Sharks (-2)
28. John Carlson, Capitals (same)
29. Slava Voynov, Kings (-3)
30. Victor Hedman, Lightning (+2)
31. Alexander Edler, Canucks (same)
32. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Sharks (+2)
33. Mark Streit, Flyers (+3)
34. Matt Carle, Lightning (-1)
35. Torey Krug, Bruins (+3)
36. Cam Fowler, Ducks (+3)
37. Matt Niskanen, Penguins (-2)
38. Marek Zidlicky, Devils (-1)
39. Derek Morris, Coyotes (+3)
40. Andrej Sekera, Hurricanes (+3)
41. Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres (+3)
42. Eric Gelinas, Devils (+4)
43. Fedor Tyutin, Blue Jackets (+4)
44. Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets (-4)
45. Alex Goligoski, Stars (-4)
46. Andre Benoit, Avalanche (-1)
47. Jake Muzzin, Kings (+2)
48. Justin Faulk, Hurricanes (+3)
49. Kris Russell, Flames (+1)
50. Kevin Bieksa, Canucks (-2)
51. Dougie Hamilton, Bruins (+1)
52. Andy Greene, Devils (NR)
53. Erik Johnson, Avalanche (same)
54. Jonas Brodin, Wild (same)
55. Nick Leddy, Blackhawks (+1)
56. Seth Jones, Predators (+2)
57. Kimmo Timonen, Flyers (-2)
58. Hampus Lindholm, Ducks (NR)
59. Sergei Gonchar, Stars (same)
60. Michael Del Zotto, Rangers (-3)
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Tom Gilbert
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