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Fantasy D-men: Flames' Brodie heating up

Becomes must-own asset; deadline preview; top 60 'D'

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com Correspondent

The 2016 NHL Trade Deadline is Feb. 29 at 3 p.m. ET, and that means fantasy owners will be going through the same thing very soon. Most leagues recognize the NHL deadline as their own, or set a date shortly thereafter to allow owners to see where actual players land before proceeding in the fantasy realm. 

It's with that in mind that we'll discuss not only a few defensemen that could have new addresses come Monday, but one who surely is staying put that you should target for a trade. 

We'll start with the latter. If you're lucky enough to play in one of the 29 percent of Yahoo leagues in which Calgary Flames defenseman TJ Brodie is available, you should snag him off the waiver wire. 

Brodie started to show signs of what he was becoming in 2013-14 when he had 11 points in his final 19 games. Last season, he had NHL-bests in goals (11), assists (30) and points (41), as well as in six other statistical categories. That production made him a hot commodity in fantasy drafts this fall, and he was selected in the 11th round on average in 100 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

But he sustained a broken hand during a preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers that kept him out until Oct. 28. That down time saw his ownership drop and it's still a reason why he's available in some leagues. 

Video: NYR@CGY: Brodie records game-winning goal in overtime

He was held without a point in his first two games and had two goals and six points in his first 14 games. But he's looked every bit as good as last season ever since. He had two goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak between Nov. 28 and Dec. 15, and he has 30 points in his past 36 games. 

Since Jan. 24, Brodie is tied for third among NHL defensemen with 13 points, and, for the season, he's tied for ninth in the League among defensemen with 0.72 points per game. 
  
Brodie has already set a new career mark with 32 assists and his 36 points are six shy from passing last season's total. If there is any drawback, it's his lack of goals in comparison to last season. He has four in 50 games, which seems to be a byproduct of his drop in shot production. He averaged 1.64 shots on goal per game last season but is down to 1.16 this season. 

He remains a staple on the Flames' top defense pairing with Mark Giordano and he seems to be getting better with each game. He has 11 points in his past 10 games and is a must-own asset in each and every format. 

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TRADE DEADLINE OUTLOOK FOR D-MEN

The list of defensemen that could move before the trade deadline isn't as tantalizing as it was just a few weeks ago when it contained names Dustin Byfuglien and Keith Yandle, but there are a few that could help if they land in the right situation. 

NOTE: Information regarding player contracts, salary-cap charges and no-movement/no-trade clauses via war-on-ice.com. 

Kris Russell, Calgary Flames (current Yahoo rank: 625) 
2015-16 salary cap hit: $2,600,000 

Russell is the player to target if your league gives credit for blocked shots; he's second in the league with 174. Last season, he led the League with 283 but also showed it wasn't his only specialty as he had 34 points in 79 games. He had 14 points on the power play and was a plus-18. His numbers have dipped this season, mainly due to the Flames' defense depth. He's seen his power play time slip from 2:25 per game last season to 1:18 this season. He has four goals and 15 points in 51 games this season but could see a boost in most offensive categories if he lands with a contender that uses him in all situations. He's currently owned in just 12 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

Video: EDM@ARI: Schultz scores on power play to extend lead

Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers (current Yahoo rank: 710) 
2015-16 salary cap hit: $3,900,000 

The Schultz experiment seems to have run its course in Edmonton and the 25-year-old right-shot defender, who will be a restricted free agent after the season, could be on the move. It seems like ages since the Oilers won the bidding for the talented offensive defenseman after he opted not to sign with the Anaheim Ducks, who had selected him in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft. His best season was 2012-13, when he had eight goals and 27 points in 48 games as a rookie. He averaged .56 points per game that season and looked like he'd develop into a great complementary piece for the Oilers' group of talented young forwards. That hasn't happened, however. His points-per-game average has dropped each season since his he was a rookie and is at .22 this season. His shot totals have declined from 1.77 shots on goal per game as a rookie to 1.31 per game this season. He'd qualify as a low-risk, high-reward fantasy pick-up. If he can land with a Stanley Cup contender that gives him minutes with a partner who can serve as a safety net and see power-play time, he likely will help fantasy teams. He's owned in four percent of leagues. 

John-Michael Liles, Carolina Hurricanes (current Yahoo rank: 548) 
2016-16 salary cap hit: $3,875,000 

Liles has not popped up in many trade rumors yet, but like former Hurricanes puck-moving defenseman Joe Corvo, Liles could be on the move. Liles has all the skills that made Corvo a two-time trade-deadline mover: He has great mobility, offensive upside and veteran savvy. His last 40-point season was 2010-11 with the Colorado Avalanche, but as he proved last season, with 22 points in 57 games, he can produce when given the chance. He has 14 points in 61 games this season, but if teams strike out on their prime targets Liles could be a quality Plan B. He's not going to be a No. 1 fantasy defenseman in any situation, but logging minutes with skilled offensive players could help him put together a nice stretch run. He's almost universally available in Yahoo leagues. 

Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks (current Yahoo rank: 702) 
2015-16 salary cap hit: $4,500,000 

Hamhuis got back into the lineup Feb. 6 after missing two months because of a facial injury. He has five assists in 35 games this season. His offensive numbers don't endear him to fantasy owners, but he's three seasons removed from 24 points in 47 games in 2012-13. His point totals have dropped each season since he had 37 points in 2011-12. But if he moves to a contender like the Dallas Stars or Pittsburgh Penguins, or another team with offensive firepower, he could find some fantasy relevance again. He is available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

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Video: BUF@OTT: Karlsson buries a rebound into the net

TOP 60 DEFENSEMEN RANKINGS

These rankings are based on expectations for the rest of the season. Value is quantified by defense pairings, power-play usage, past performance and overall upside in standard Yahoo categories (goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal). 

1. Erik Karlsson, OTT 
2. Brent Burns, D/RW, SJS 
3. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (+1) 
4. John Klingberg, DAL (-1) 
5. P.K. Subban, MTL 
6. Kris Letang, PIT (+2) 
7. Roman Josi, NSH 
8. Duncan Keith, CHI (-2) 
9. Victor Hedman, TBL 
10. Dustin Byfuglien, D/RW, WPG (+1) 
11. Tyson Barrie, COL (+1) 
12. Drew Doughty, LAK (+1) 
13. Shea Weber, NSH (DTD) 
14. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (+2) 
15. TJ Brodie, CGY (+5) 
16. Ryan Suter, MIN (-2) 
17. Brent Seabrook, CHI (-2) 
18. John Carlson, WSH (-1) 
19. Jake Muzzin, LAK (-1) 
20. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (+2) 
21. Keith Yandle, NYR (+2) 
22. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (+2) 
23. Mark Giordano, CGY (+2) 
24. Andrei Markov, MTL (+2) 
25. Justin Faulk, CAR (-6) 
26. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (DTD) 
27. Sami Vatanen, ANA 
28. Torey Krug, BOS (+2) 
29. Dion Phaneuf, OTT (-1) 
30. Anton Stralman, TBL (-1) 
31. Jason Demers, DAL (+1) 
32. Zdeno Chara, BOS (+3) 
33. Nick Leddy, NYI (+3) 
34. Johnny Boychuk, NYI (-3) 
35. Erik Johnson, COL (-2) 
36. Andrej Sekera, EDM (-2) 
37. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (+4) 
38. Aaron Ekblad, FLA 
39. Francois Beauchemin, COL 
40. Dougie Hamilton, CGY 
41. Mike Green, DET (-4) 
42. Alex Goligoski, DAL 
43. Seth Jones, CBJ 
44. Mattias Ekholm, NSH 
45. Morgan Rielly, TOR 
46. Niklas Kronwall, DET (NEW - INJ.) 
47. Matt Niskanen, WSH 
48. Brian Campbell, FLA (-2) 
49. Colton Parayko, STL (+4) 
50. Cam Fowler, ANA (-1) 
51. Trevor Daley, PIT 
52. Ryan Ellis, NSH (-2) 
53. Alec Martinez, LAK (-1) 
54. Michael Stone, ARI (+3) 
55. Mark Streit, PHI (-7) 
56. Olli Maatta, PIT (-1) 
57. Dmitry Orlov, WSH (NEW) 
58. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (-2) 
59. Jake Gardiner, TOR 
60. Tyler Myers, WPG 

Dropped out: Cody Franson, Nick Holden  

Key injuries: Alex Pietrangelo, Oscar Klefbom, James Wisniewski

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