The NHL is always exciting, but it gets even more so a few days during the year. We'll call those days the "hockey holidays," and they come in the form of the NHL Draft, the start of free agency and the one we are celebrating Wednesday, the NHL Trade Deadline.
The hockey holidays provide an opportunity for all teams, be they buyers or sellers, to give their fans hope. The goal might be a Stanley Cup championship this season or the hopes of building toward one in a year or two, but hope is at the heart of it all.
That holds true for your fantasy team as well and you are probably gearing up for a trade deadline of your own, so today we'll look at a few defensemen who have been or could be moved and how they could help your team moving forward.
Andrew MacDonald, who we wrote about back on Jan. 8, was sent from the New York Islanders to the Philadelphia Flyers and we love the move. MacDonald has established himself as a shot blocker and is currently leading the League with 198. If your league gives credit for blocked shots, MacDonald carries even more value, but if not he is still very worthy of a roster spot.
While his ice time could fall a bit from the 25:25 he averaged per night in Long Island, he could see a boost in all offensive categories. He was already working toward career highs in goals, assists and power-play points and should have no problem establishing new highs in each area with a deep, talented pool of forwards in Philadelphia. He possesses a great first pass and has the ability to play the power play, though we won't know exactly how he will be used until we see him play a game or two with his new team. He'll also be able to work on turning around his minus-19 rating.
There is speculation MacDonald could play with former Islanders teammate Mark Streit, which would ease his transition. Our suggestion is to look at acquiring him if you need a blue line boost. He is currently owned in just 14 percent of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues.
Ehrhoff, who has a 50-point season on his resume, has consistently produced points over the past few weeks, snagging four goals and six assists over his past 11 games. He has been linked to the Detroit Red Wings and several other contending teams, which could give him a big boost. He has accumulated 29 points (six goals), 129 shots on goal, and 10 power-play points this season. We could see him reaching 42-45 points in the right situation.
Alexander Edler of the Vancouver Canucks could be on the move, as he and coach John Tortorella haven't necessarily gelled this season. Edler, who has just 15 points in 44 games, has four seasons of 30 or more points, with his high-water mark coming during the 2011-12 season when he rolled up 49 points.
He may never get back to that level of production, but if he goes to a team that gives him top power play time and the chance to play with some talented forwards he could be good for at least .50 points per game.
Last but not least, Andrej Meszaros of the Philadelphia Flyers could be on the move now that MacDonald has landed in town. He has four seasons of 30 or more points and has managed to put up 17 in just 38 games this season.
If he were to go to a team that was willing to play him on a nightly basis, including giving him time on the power play, he could get back to being a valuable fantasy contributor. He is owned in just three percent of Yahoo Leagues.
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning -- There is speculation that Steven Stamkos could be back in the lineup as early as Thursday and that gives just about everyone on the Lightning roster a boost. Hedman is already having a career season in terms of offensive production, putting up 11 goals, 28 assists and seven power-play points, and that will continue to grow. He is still available in 17 percent of Yahoo Leagues, which means he could be there in yours.
Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes -- Sekera is also having a career season, eclipsing his previous career high point total by seven points with over a month left on the schedule. His played dipped a bit during January, but has really ramped up over his past 14 games, a span that has seen him collect 14 points. He is currently owned in just 45 percent of Yahoo Leagues, a number that is far too low.
Tobias Enstrom, Winnipeg Jets -- We have talked about Enstrom in this spot before this season, but we have to mention him again. While things have been on the upswing under new coach Paul Maurice, that hasn't held true for Enstrom's offensive production and he has given way to youngster Jacob Trouba. He does have 19 points this season, but has been held off the score sheet in six straight. We'd look elsewhere for blue line production.
Cody Franson, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Franson put up 29 points in just 45 games last season and that got fantasy owners salivating for an encore. However, he has seen his points per game drop from .64 to .44 this season. He has been held scoreless in six games, is carrying a minus-14 and isn't an automatic nightly play. We still like his upside, but at 27 years old we expected a bit more consistency.
KEEP AN EYE ON …
Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres -- Keep a close eye on Myers on Wednesday and beyond, as he has started to show signs of life. He has picked up two goals and two assists over his past three games, which has pushed his season total to 20 points in 56 games. There is some speculation he could be on the move if the right deal comes along, but he has value even staying in Buffalo. The main concern if he isn't moved would be his minus-24 rating, but he has all the tools to be a very effective fantasy defenseman. He is owned in just six percent of Yahoo Leagues.
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. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (same)
3. P.K. Subban, Canadiens (+1)
4. Alex Pietrangelo, Blues (-1)
5. Shea Weber, Predators (same)
6. Dustin Byfuglien, Jets (same)
7. Keith Yandle, Coyotes (same)
8. Ryan Suter, Wild (same)
9. Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings (+1)
10. Kevin Shattenkirk, Blues (-1)
11. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (+1)
12. Drew Doughty, Kings (-1)
13. Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks (same)
14. Zdeno Chara, Bruins (same)
15. James Wisniewski, Blue Jackets (+1)
16. Andrei Markov, Canadiens (+3)
17. Jason Garrison, Canucks (same)
18. Jay Bouwmeester, Blues (-3)
19. Matt Niskanen, Penguins (+1)
20. Mike Green, Capitals (+1)
21. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers (-3)
22. Brian Campbell, Panthers (+1)
23. Victor Hedman, Lightning (+3)
24. John Carlson, Capitals (same)
25. Cam Fowler, Ducks (same)
26. Cody Franson, Maple Leafs (-4)
27. Andrej Sekera, Hurricanes (+4)
28. Torey Krug, Bruins (+2)
29. Dan Boyle, Sharks (-2)
30. Andrew MacDonald, Flyers (+2)
31. Matt Carle, Lightning (-3)
32. Justin Schultz, Oilers (-3)
33. Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres (+2)
34. Mark Giordano, Flames (+5)
35. Mark Streit, Flyers (-2)
36. Slava Voynov, Kings (-2)
37. Marek Zidlicky, Devils (same)
38. Dion Phaneuf, Maple Leafs (-2)
39. Jacob Trouba, Jets (-1)
40. Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets (+2)
41. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Sharks (-1)
42. Alexander Edler, Canucks (+1)
43. Dennis Wideman, Flames (+1)
44. Lubomir Visnovsky, Islanders (+1)
45. Olli Maatta, Penguins (+1)
46. Roman Josi, Predators (+1)
47. Alex Goligoski, Stars (+1)
48. Tobias Enstrom, Jets (-7)
49. Jake Muzzin, Kings (+1)
50. Francois Beauchemin, Ducks (-1)
51. Erik Johnson, Avalanche (same)
52. Nick Leddy, Blackhawks (same)
53. Tom Gilbert, Panthers (+3)
54. Kimmo Timonen, Flyers (+4)
55. Tyson Barrie, Avalanche (+2)
56. Tyler Myers, Sabres (NR)
57. Jason Demers, Sharks (-4)
58. Hampus Lindholm, Ducks (-3)
59. Eric Gelinas, Devils (NR)
60. Seth Jones, Predators (same)
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Sergei Gonchar
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