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Fantasy D-men: Pickups for championship round

Klein, Daley, Slavin can fill category needs; top 60 rankings

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com Correspondent

Klein's second goal

NYR@ANA: Klein tips in his second goal of the game

3/16/16: Kevin Klein drives to the net and has the puck deflect off his stick and past John Gibson, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the 3rd

  • 01:06 •

It always feels good to see the fruits of a hard day's work pay off -- or, in this case, a hard season's work. A summer and fall full of research to prepare for drafts, waiver wire pickups and any trades you made have helped you through another fantasy hockey season.

That long road has led qualifying owners to the fantasy championship round. You'll need to use everything at your disposal if you want to finish what you've started. Relying on what got you there is key, but now you need to maximize production, stream players and ensure you are getting as many points as possible on a nightly basis.

You must be mindful of how many games a player has remaining, whether he's dining on home cooking or playing on the road. With all that in mind, here are five defensemen that can offer fantasy depth to bolster a category or fill in for an injured star.

Kevin Klein, New York Rangers
Games remaining: 6 (2 this week) -- at CAR, vs. BUF, at CBJ, vs. TB, vs. NYI, vs. DET

We spent a full column breaking down the merits of Klein last week, and he remains a viable option. He's skating on the Rangers' top pair with Ryan McDonagh and has two goals and seven assists over his past 10 games. He's plus-8 in that span and has 19 hits and 24 blocked shots. It's also worth noting the Rangers will play four of their final six games on home ice, where Klein has picked up 14 of his 22 points this season. He's still available in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Trevor Daley, Pittsburgh Penguins
Games remaining: 6 (3 more this week) -- vs. NSH, at NYI, vs. PHI, at OTT, at WSH, at PHI

Daley was elevated to the Penguins' top pair alongside Kris Letang when the team lost Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta to injury over the weekend. He was already heating up, but this development adds value. He has two goals, six points, two power-play points, a plus-4 rating and 13 shots on goal over his past six games. Teaming with Letang has also meant a significant jump in his ice time; he has not skated fewer than 24 minutes in a game since the move. He is available in nearly 70 percent of leagues. Those same injuries have forced Derrick Pouliot (1 percent owned) into action as well. The 22-year-old is a gifted offensive talent who has impressed during his first two games back in the lineup. He logged a season-high 19:29 of ice time Sunday against the Rangers and 18:06 on Tuesday. He's seen more than a minute of power-play time in each game and has one assist, five SOG and a plus-1 rating over that span.

Video: WSH@PIT: Daley flips a backhand under the crossbar

Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes
Games remaining: 5 (2 more this week) -- at NYI, vs. NYR, vs. CBJ, at BOS, vs. MTL, at FLA

Slavin, a fourth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, made his debut for the Hurricanes on Nov. 20 and has been a staple in their lineup ever since. The 21-year-old was the prime beneficiary in terms of power-play time when John-Michael Liles was traded to the Boston Bruins on Feb. 29. He's seen an average of 1:38 with the extra man over his past 13 games, with a high-water mark of 2:57 during a 4-2 loss to the Penguins on St. Patrick's Day. He has five assists in that span and points in three of his past four games. He's chipped in 25 blocked shots in the span and is owned in one percent of Yahoo leagues.

Brayden McNabb, Los Angeles Kings
Games remaining: 6 (2 more this week) -- vs. CGY, vs. DAL, at VAN, at CGY, vs. ANA, vs. WPG

McNabb is skating on a pair with Drew Doughty and more times than not might be counted on to pay closer attention to his own end, but he still carries upside. He has picked up three points in his past two games and managed to log some rare power-play time against the San Jose Sharks on Monday, skating 2:36 with the extra man. He is an interesting fantasy addition if your league counts hits. He has 40 in his past 14 games, pushing his season total to 186. He has an attractive plus-10 rating through 75 games and has added 90 blocked shots. He's owned in five percent of Yahoo leagues.

Casey Nelson, Buffalo Sabres
Games remaining: 5 (2 more this week) -- vs. TOR, at NYR, at NJ, vs. CBJ, at NYI

Nelson opted to forego his senior season at Minnesota State University-Mankato after scoring six goals and 22 points and being named the WCHA's Defensive Player of the Year. He signed an entry-level contract with the Sabres and has four assists in his first three NHL games with one SOG and a plus-1 rating. Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma is getting him plenty of power-play time and he could be a very sneaky grab in deep formats. He's available in nearly all Yahoo leagues.

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TRENDING UP

Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames

Hamilton started the season slowly, picking up 26 points in his first 61 games, but he's been red hot over his past 15 games. He has two goals, 14 points, four power-play points, and 42 SOG over that span. That burst has pushed him to 35 points over his past 52 games, which works out to .67 points per game during that stretch. He scored 22 goals over 178 games in Boston and already has 11 in 76 games this season. He also has 29 assists, 40 points, 75 hits, 94 blocked shots, 15 power-play points and 174 SOG. He can help you in the short and long term, and is sure to improve upon his average draft position of 104.5 from this season. He's available in 21 percent of leagues.

Video: CHI@CGY: Hamilton goes top-shelf to light the lamp

TRENDING DOWN

Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

Seabrook is six points away from his career high of 48 set back in 2010-11, but he has gone cold as of late. He missed the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday because of illness, but has been held without a point in his past nine games. He is a minus-2 in that span, and although he should be back in the lineup Friday, he shouldn't be considered an automatic play during this all-important week.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Joel Hanley, Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens recalled Hanley, an undrafted free agent, on March 20 when they needed to fill a roster spot. The 24-year-old has quietly posted five assists, a plus-1 rating and four SOG in five games. He's not playing a ton of minutes, but is readily available in most leagues and could help fill category needs in deep formats.

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TOP 60 FANTASY DEFENSEMEN

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, PPP and SOG).

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

Dropped out: David Savard

Key injuries: P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Michael Stone, Dion Phaneuf, Anton Stralman, Jason Demers, Tyler Myers, Alexander Edler, Dennis Wideman, Oscar Klefbom, James Wisniewski

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