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On the 'D'-fence: Fantasy implications of real trades

By Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

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On the 'D'-fence: Fantasy implications of real trades
Trades made at the NHL's upcoming deadline could help a number of defenseman that could aid your fantasy team.
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.

The National Hockey League trade deadline now is just six days away, which means the deadline in your fantasy league is creeping closer, as well. Owners have but a brief window of time remaining to tinker with their line-ups for the stretch drive and the playoffs, which in most Yahoo! Standard head-to-head leagues kick off in just four weeks. 

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 last week. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings.)
*was listed on IR in last week's rankings

Players that dropped out of
previous rankings: Jordan Leopold, Corey Potter, Marc Staal

Players on IR: Jason Garrison, Adam Larsson, Chris Pronger, Joni Pitkanen, Andrei Markov
A week ago we took a look at some of the defensemen you might be able to acquire on the cheap in your respective leagues that could push you over the top. This week we are going to look at a handful of players who have been making the rounds in the rumor mill and could see their fantasy values enhanced by a "real life" deal. We also are including the percentage of Yahoo! Standard leagues in which they are owned in parenthesis.

Marek Zidlicky (13 percent) is someone who made our pre-season sleepers list, but instead he's spent most of the season asleep. He just hasn't lived up to expectations, and when you mix in the fact that he has been a healthy scratch more times than not lately, he hasn't offered much in the way of fantasy production. That could change before next Monday, as he has been heavily rumored to be on his way out of Minnesota -- possibly to the New Jersey Devils.

Zidlicky has great vision on the ice, makes a great first pass and can quarterback a power play. If he were to join a team such as the Devils, he would get a chance to play with the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise with the extra man and could see a significant spike in production over the final weeks of the season. His numbers are bleak right now -- no goals and 13 assists in 40 games. However, he has five seasons of 40-plus points on his resume and with the right team and in the right situation, it's conceivable he could pick up something like 14 points in the final 20 games.

The Los Angeles Kings are in the hunt to pick up Rick Nash or another offensive-minded talent if the speculation is to be believed, and their package likely would include the hard-shooting Jack Johnson (76 percent). Johnson has been an effective fantasy player in L.A., but would be even more so on a team in which he would be the No. 1 defenseman.

Johnson would be a fixture on the top power-play unit of just about any team that he would join; he wouldn't have to share those minutes with Drew Doughty and could see a nice spike in production. Johnson has eight goals and 16 assists this season, and has two seasons of at least 35 points on his resume. He also has averaged 1.6 shots per game in his career. 

The Montreal Canadiens have been labeled sellers at this point and moving Hal Gill last week solidified that description. Though Gill isn't going to help anyone fantasy-wise, the Canadiens do have another defenseman who could be on the move: Chris Campoli (0 percent).

Campoli never has lived up to the expectations created by his 34-point rookie season in 2005-06, but he is a very capable puck-moving defenseman who could help your fantasy squad if he enters the right situation. Last season, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks at the deadline and had a goal, six assists and 25 shots in 19 games.

Kyle Quincey (54 percent) and Johnny Oduya (0 percent) also could be on the move and likely would see their production spike in the right situation. All of the above could be very effective stretch-drive players for your team if you are in need of defensive depth.

TRENDING UPWARD

Alex Pietrangelo -- Pietrangelo seems to be taking the next step and has thrived since coach Ken Hitchcock arrived. The offense hasn't been there throughout, but he is on fire as of late picking up two goals, seven assists, 16 shots on goal and six power-play points in his last six games.

Tyler Myers -- Myers has had a fairly disappointing season overall, but he is finally starting to hit his stride for the Sabres. The hulking blueliner has started to flash his playmaking and scoring abilities and is having his most productive month of the season, with a goal and five assists in nine February games.

Dan Boyle -- We are big Boyle fans here and he has done a great job of leaving his early season struggles behind, which is good news for his San Jose Sharks as well as fantasy owners. Boyle may not be producing at the same rate as previous seasons, but he has notched four goals, 14 assists, 77 shots on goal and a plus-9 in 22 games since Jan. 1.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

John-Michael Liles -- We still believe Liles is going to get back on track, but he has just one assist, six shots on goal and a minus-8 rating in nine games since rejoining the Maples Leafs following a concussion that kept him out of the lineup from Dec. 22 through Feb. 1.

Zach Bogosian -- Bogosian still is trying to find his offensive game after four seasons in the League. He did score 19 points in 47 games as a rookie in 2008-09, and while he's had similar offensive outputs since then, he hasn't taken the next step yet. He has just two assists in his last 11 games and is also dealing with an injury that has been dubbed an upper body and foot injury over the past week.

Drew Doughty -- Doughty has also been through his share of offensive struggles this season. He has zero points in his last four games and just two goals, an assist and a minus-3 rating in his last nine. As is the case with many Kings right now, offensive production is at a minimum.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Justin Faulk -- Faulk is starting to find his game for the Hurricanes and the 19-year-old is also getting some attention in the Calder Trophy race, as he has two goals and two assists in his last six games. He has six goals, nine assists, 72 shots on goal and nine power-play points in 44 games this season. If he wasn't already, he should be on your fantasy radar.
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