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Fantasy D-men: Klein worth picking up

Rangers defenseman having another strong season; top 60 rankings

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com Correspondent

New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein had NHL career-bests of nine goals and 26 points last season even though he was limited to 65 games because of injury.

Those totals had his value at an all-time high in fantasy and reality, but many believed his success was unsustainable. Klein, who had a 3.9 shooting percentage entering last season, scored on 11.8 percent of his shots in 2014-15.

But instead of regressing in that category this season, he's actually improved.

Klein had his first two-goal game March 16 in a 2-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks and has eight goals and 20 points in 60 games this season. He's done it with a shooting percentage of 14.5, well above his previously believed unsustainable percentage of last season.

He is skating on a pairing with Ryan McDonagh, and, though he probably is best suited to slot in as a No. 4 or No. 5 defenseman, Klein hasn't looked out of place. He has two goals, including one game-winner, seven points, 10 shots on goal and a plus-5 rating in his past seven games.

This is all great news for fantasy owners who are looking for any advantage they can get during the fantasy playoffs. Klein definitely can help your quest for a title.

The Rangers, who play the Boston Bruins on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN1) have nine regular-season games left, and Klein has a chance of setting a new career high in points. He's averaging .33 points per game but could be even more productive if he continues to get good looks at the goal from the high slot, which has become his prime scoring area.

Almost all of his goals this season have looked exactly the same; seven of his eight goals have been on one-timers from between the faceoff circles near the hash marks.

Even on a team where he isn't viewed as a top offensive option, Klein is finding ways to thrive, and he's doing it largely at even strength. He's averaging 20:20 of ice time per game, with 17:58 of that coming at 5-on-5.

Klein also can help fantasy owners with his plus-17 rating, 95 hits and 131 blocked shots. He has three of his four game-winning goals in his past 15 games. Klein is owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues, so there's a good chance you can still grab him.

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

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TRENDING UP

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes

Ekman-Larsson returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing six games with a bruised shoulder. He made an immediate impact with one assist, two SOG and a plus-3 in 20:50 of ice time against the Edmonton Oilers. If you haven't done so already, activate the elite fantasy defenseman in your league. The 24-year-old is five goals away from a new career high and has already set career bests in assists (31), penalty minutes (74), power-play goals (12) and power-play assists (15). He has scored on 9.2 percent of his 207 SOG.

TRENDING DOWN

Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

Vatanen has not played since March 9 because of an upper-body injury. It is a frustrating situation for fantasy owners, because, like Subban, he is not eligible for injured reserve in Yahoo. Vatanen is not with the Ducks during their ongoing five game road trip, which continues Thursday at the Toronto Maple Leafs. That means he likely won't play for at least three more games when they return home to play the Calgary Flames on March 30. Standard-league owners who are involved in close playoff matchups might have to consider dropping Vatanen for streaming options.

KEEP AN EYE ON
 
Paul Martin, San Jose Sharks

We mentioned Martin as a streaming option last week and he's lived up to that billing. He had three assists, one PPP, five SOG, a plus-4 rating and eight blocked shots in four games. Martin skates on the Sharks' top pairing with Brent Burns. He averages 20:46 of ice time per game but has played more than 23 minutes in his past two. He is owned in one percent of Yahoo leagues and remains a great flier.

WORTH NOTING

-- We hope you took our advice to pick up the Philadelphia Flyers' Radko Gudas (26 percent owned) or the Buffalo Sabres' Zach Bogosian (24 percent owned) last week. Gudas had two goals, one of which was a game-winner, two PIMs, 14 hits, 14 blocked shots and six SOG in four games. Bogosian grabbed two goals, one on the power play, along with 22 PIMs, six blocked shots and 16 SOG in four games. Each remains available in most fantasy formats.

Video: PHI@CHI: Gudas nets goal in 3rd, Flyers take 3-2 lead

-- P.K. Subban hasn't played since sustaining a neck injury March 10. He has been ruled out for Thursday at the Detroit Red Wings, but is traveling with the Montreal Canadiens and could potentially return as early as this weekend. Subban may have to work through some rust, but he'll likely jump right back into his usual role once he's back, playing more than 26 minutes of ice time per game and adding to his strong totals of six goals, 45 assists, 75 PIMs, 24 power-play points and 176 SOG. It wouldn't hurt to take a look at your league's waiver wire to see if an impatient owner drops Subban.

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

Key injuries: John Carlson, Justin Faulk, Dion Phaneuf, Dennis Wideman, Alexander Edler, Jason Demers, Oscar Klefbom, James Wisniewski

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