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On the 'D'-fence: Scandella-ous Production?

Tuesday, 10.11.2011 / 12:41 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

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On the 'D'-fence: Scandella-ous Production?
Kris Letang comes in as the new No. 1 fantasy defenseman, but owners should keep an eye on Minnesota blueliner Marco Scandella.
Every Tuesday 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.

There is a lot that goes into running a fantasy hockey team. You draft your squad, maintain it on a daily basis, identify trades and scour the waiver wire for difference makers. If you do it all the right way you can get everyone in your league talking about you. In fact, some may even call great prospecting and harvesting on the waiver wire… Scandella-ous!

TOP 60 FANTASY DEFENSEMEN

These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from preseason. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings.)
Players that dropped out of our previous rankings: Ryan Ellis, Kurtis Foster, Zach Bogosian, Cody Franson
Marco Scandella, 21, might not be setting the world on fire yet, but after two games he is primed to make an impact and just might be worth a spot on your roster.

The book on Scandella is one of promise and injury, as the youngster has long tempered the Minnesota Wild's excitement about him by getting himself hurt on a fairly regular basis. Now it is Scandella that is taking advantage of injuries and a suspension to Pierre-Marc Bouchard to put himself in the Wild's line-up daily -- and he is thriving.

The six-foot-three, 208-pound defenseman is blessed with speed, size, strength and the ability to rush the puck -- something that is lacking on the Minnesota blue-line. He showed off all of those skills during the Wild's opening night 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets as he scored a goal, blocked a shot and spent 21:58 on the ice.

It is also worth noting that he has slid right in on the Wild's top power play unit to fill the spot vacated by Bouchard and hasn't looked out of place. Though the suspension is a short one, two-games, Scandella's play is likely going to force head coach Mike Yeo to keep using him in a key role.

"Marco is going to be a fun player in our system," head coach Mike Yeo told Foxsportsnorth.com during the pre-season. "He is big, strong and he can really rush the puck. His skill set fits perfectly into what we are trying to do on the back end."

Scandella has also notched four blocked shots on the season, which many leagues are starting to include. Don't let Minnesota be the only one to benefit from Scandella's skill set. He is owned in only 1 percent of Yahoo leagues and it is well worth your 'Wild' to take a flier on him if you have a roster spot to fill.

TRENDING UPWARD

Erik Karlsson: This young Swede is picking up where he left off last season and that is great for fantasy owners. He has already posted 4 assists on the season and is seeing significant ice time with 26:08 TOI on Saturday night. He is also playing alongside veteran Sergei Gonchar on the Senators' number one power play unit. Though his plus/minus is a concern, he is a guy that can pay off in a ton of defensive production.

Ian White: Though we still like Niklas Kronwall a great deal, White is looking like a guy that will be able to help your team with timely scoring and plus/minus. He is playing alongside Nicklas Lidstrom and is getting his fair share of time on the power play. Though White has never broken 26 points in a season, this could be the year. He notched a goal in the Wings' opener and has registered a plus-3, 4 PIMs and 3 SOG through two games. He is still available in 69% of Yahoo! standard leagues.

Yannick Weber: Though Weber started the first two games of the season as a forward he has been pressed into duty on the blue line due to injuries to Chris Campoli and Jaroslav Spacek. Weber paid almost instant dividends for the Habs as he notched a power play goal and an assist. He might not be a boom pick for fantasy owners, but if you lost Campoli, Spacek or both, he could be a nice substitute.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Ryan Ellis: Ellis falls out of our rankings this week as he did not begin the season with the Nashville Predators. He has been sent to Milwaukee of the AHL, where he is expected to play big minutes for the Admirals this season. He is definitely a player to keep on your watch lists, as he could be a mid-season call up if injuries were to strike, but he has little value to fantasy owners at this point.

Andrei Markov: The talented Russian has been snake bitten by injuries over the past two seasons and still does not have a definitive return date. The Canadiens are hoping for a big season from Markov, as evidenced by the three-year contract that they gave the talented rearguard in June, but it is getting harder and harder to hold a spot for him in fantasy line-ups -- especially so for those playing without an IR slot.

Cody Franson: Fantasy owners had high hopes for Franson when he joined the Maple Leafs as part of a deal that sent Brett Ledba to Nashville this summer; however those hopes have thus far been dashed. Franson has yet to suit up for the Maple Leafs and is listed as number seven on the depth chart. Though head coach Ron Wilson has stated that Franson will still see significant time with the Leafs this season, he has little value until he works himself up the depth chart.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Matt Niskanen: Though many consider Niskanen to be the "throw in" in the deal that sent Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars and James Neal to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he was one of the Pens' most impressive players during training camp. He has a much greater understanding of Dan Bylsma's system, which can be a bit complicated for defenseman at first, and has been rewarded with plenty of playing time during the first three games. Niskanen has averaged 19:34 TOI -- including time on the power play, has scored two points and has launched 9 shots thus far. Though we are looking at a small sample size, he may be a guy who can help fantasy teams if he keeps it going.
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