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.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen has long been a staple on fantasy hockey blue lines, but that started to change a bit this season. While he led all Flyers defensemen in scoring last season with 29 points in 45 games, prompting fantasy owners to draft him on average in the 11th round of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues, he and the Flyers limped out of the gates to a 4-10-1 record in their first 15 games.
Timonen managed to put up just one assist and a minus-2 rating over that span, causing fantasy owners to cut and run. He found himself on the most-dropped lists in many different platforms and formats, but while owners weren't paying attention he and the Flyers were heating up.
The Flyers have gone 29-15-6 over their next 50 games, effectively turning their season around. Timonen appeared in 47 of those games, collecting 25 points in the process. His .53 points per game over that span might not compare to the .64 he put up last season, but it is on par with some of his best career numbers to date.
The 38-year-old native of Kuopio, Finland has only broken .60 points per game in a season on three occasions. He achieved the feat in both of his final two seasons with the Nashville Predators back in 2005-06 and '06-07, and then again last year.
You might have noticed that just one of those .60-plus points per game seasons came with the Flyers, though he was universally looked at as a viable fantasy option in each of his five prior seasons on Broad Street. Over those years he put up 206 points in 397 games, or .52 points per game, which is on par with the aforementioned production over his past 47 games this season.
This isn't to say we think Timonen is the same player he was over the past six years, but after his rough start he is producing on par with what he has done over his career in Philadelphia. It is also worth noting that he, like Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks, got a chance to mentor some younger players at the Sochi Olympics, helping Finland to a bronze medal.
That medal was a nice way to cap an international career and according to reports out of Philadelphia he is thinking of following Selanne into retirement. The thing that has him wavering on making that decision is the same thing that differentiates him from his countryman -- he has yet to win a Stanley Cup.
"I want to see how we do in the last 18 games," Timonen said to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I want to feel the playoff atmosphere. That's a goal where I want to be, and hopefully we get there with this team. Because once you get in the playoffs, you don't know what's going to happen. You have as good as chance as anybody once you get in."
That is the kind of thing that can motivate a player coming down the stretch and precisely the kind of thing fantasy owners love to hear when figuring out who will give them the best chance to win their leagues.
Timonen is owned in just 57 percent of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues and there is a good chance he is available in yours.
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche -- Johnson has had his ups and downs since being selected with the first pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, but he is finally starting to live up to that billing with the Avalanche. He is averaging .49 points per game, something he hasn't done since his first two seasons in the League. While he has had some dry spells during the season, he is currently riding a hot streak that has seen him pick up one goal and six assists over his past five games. He is also providing a boost in leagues that give credit for blocked shots and hits, picking up 107 and 110 respectively. Johnson is still owned in just 38 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils -- Zidlicky has followed the lead of teammate Jaromir Jagr and sipped from the fountain of youth, and it has him on the verge of his best season since 2009-10. The 37-year-old has been red hot as of late, picking up seven points (two goals) over his last six games. That surge has pushed his season totals to 10 goals and 25 assists. He has collected 16 points on the power play and has fired 98 shots on goal. Zidlicky is still available in 43 percent of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues and could be sitting on your waiver wire waiting to help you to the fantasy promised land.
Jason Garrison, Vancouver Canucks -- Garrison is still a very effective fantasy player in the right situations; sadly, the situation is far from right in Vancouver at the moment. He is still chipping in points sporadically, picking up a goal and two assists over his past nine games, but he is not producing the way he was earlier in the season when things were seemingly going in the right direction under coach John Tortorella. Garrison, as well as many of his teammates, should probably be reserved until they show that they can consistently be relied upon again.
Tom Gilbert, Florida Panthers -- While Gilbert has had a nice season in Florida, he has cooled significantly as of late, picking up just three points in his past 13 games. He is still a nice depth option for owners coming down the stretch as he plays over 22 minutes per night, gets some power play time and has collected 27 points on the season. We just wouldn't advise relying on Gilbert as a No. 1 or even a No. 2 defenseman at this stage of the season.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings -- Martinez has dealt with a handful of injuries this season, including an elbow injury that held him out for most of February, but he is back in the lineup and red hot through the early stages of March. He has picked up three goals and two assists in five March games, and is producing on the power play. He has six hits and nine blocked shots over that span as well. We aren't sure if he can keep up this pace, but the Kings have been playing well and he could be a nice depth option. Martinez is owned in just one percent of Yahoo Fantasy 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 (same)
4. Alex Pietrangelo, Blues (same)
5. Dustin Byfuglien, Jets (+1)
6. Keith Yandle, Coyotes (+1)
7. Shea Weber, Predators (-2)
8. Kevin Shattenkirk, Blues (+2)
9. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (+2)
10. Ryan Suter, Wild (-2)
11. Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings (-2)
12. Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks (+1)
13. Zdeno Chara, Bruins (+1)
14. James Wisniewski, Blue Jackets (+1)
15. Drew Doughty, Kings (-3)
16. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers (+5)
17. Victor Hedman, Lightning (+6)
18. Andrei Markov, Canadiens (-2)
19. Matt Niskanen, Penguins (same)
20. Andrej Sekera, Hurricanes (+7)
21. Torey Krug, Rangers (+7)
22. Jason Garrison, Canucks (-5)
23. Jay Bouwmeester, Blues (-5)
24. Mike Green, Capitals (-4)
25. Brian Campbell, Panthers (-3)
26. John Carlson, Capitals (-2)
27. Mark Giordano, Flames (+7)
28. Cam Fowler, Ducks (-3)
29. Cody Franson, Maple Leafs (-3)
30. Andrew MacDonald, Flyers (same)
31. Marek Zidlicky, Devils (+6)
32. Justin Schultz, Oilers (same)
33. Dan Boyle, Sharks (-4)
34. Slava Voynov, Kings (+2)
35. Matt Carle, Lightning (-4)
36. Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres (-3)
37. Mark Streit, Flyers (-2)
38. Dion Phaneuf, Maple Leafs (same)
39. Jacob Trouba, Jets (same)
40. Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets (same)
41. Olli Maatta, Penguins (+4)
42. Alex Goligoski, Stars (+5)
43. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Sharks (-2)
44. Alexander Edler, Canucks (-2)
45. Erik Johnson, Avalanche (+6)
46. Dennis Wideman, Flames (-3)
47. Lubomir Visnovsky, Islanders (-3)
48. Kimmo Timonen, Flyers (+6)
49. Tobias Enstrom, Jets (-1)
50. Roman Josi, Predators (-4)
51. Jake Muzzin, Kings (-2)
52. Francois Beauchemin, Ducks (-2)
53. Tyson Barrie, Avalanche (+2)
54. Tyler Myers, Sabres (+2)
55. Andy Greene, Devils (NR)
56. Nick Leddy, Blackhawks (-4)
57. Jason Demers, Sharks (same)
58. Hampus Lindholm, Ducks (same)
59. Tom Gilbert, Panthers (-6)
60. Eric Gelinas, Devils (-1)
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Seth Jones
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