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Fantasy D-men: Trades bring fresh starts

Schultz, Gelinas can find footing with new teams; top 60 ranks

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com correspondent

The day of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline didn't seem to have the same excitement it had in previous years, mainly due to a number of moves taking place during the preceding days and weeks. That said, a few defensemen changed zip codes before 3 p.m. on Leap Day, and deep-league fantasy owners should take notice.

Let's take a look at a few defensemen who are pulling on new sweaters after being traded and how they could help your fantasy team down the stretch of the season.

Justin Schultz to the Pittsburgh Penguins

Over a four-year career with the Edmonton Oilers, Schultz failed to live up to expectations. Being miscast as a savior for a blue line that had been in disarray for years took its toll on the now 25-year-old. The Penguins' thinking is that Schultz's problems have more to do with shattered confidence than anything else and that the pressure surrounding him will be alleviated in Pittsburgh.

They don't need Schultz to play on their top pairing and could probably play him on their bottom pairing if they so choose, but he might find himself skating with Brian Dumoulin.

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

Coach Mike Sullivan loves the fact Schultz is a right-handed shot and intends to play him on his strong side. Sullivan now has two right-handed shots in his lineup and will have three when Ben Lovejoy is healthy, allowing the Penguins to deploy a lefty-righty combination on each pairing.

The Penguins are expected to have Sergei Gonchar, their defense development coach, spend a lot of time with Schultz rebuilding his game. Gonchar played a simple, but highly effective offensive game and that influence can only enhance the abilities Schultz demonstrated during his best season back in 2012-13, when he had eight goals and 27 points in 48 games as a rookie.

He may be averaging just .66 points per 60 minutes, but it is hard to judge his transition to the Penguins' lineup on that number because it's a vastly different circumstance. He'll get chances with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and a host of other talented forwards, and maybe even some power-play time. His time on ice will probably fall somewhere between the 15 minutes (1:00 on the power play) that Derrick Pouliot has logged and the 17:44 (29 seconds on the power play) that Ian Cole has gotten.

As we discussed last week, fantasy owners are in the same situation as the Penguins, in that Schultz is a high-risk, high-reward pick-up, but the rewards could be great. Yes, he's been trending down in all standard categories, but this trade could turn his career around. If you have the roster spot, now is the time to take a chance on Schultz (6 percent owned).

Eric Gelinas to the Colorado Avalanche

It is hard to put a finger on what went wrong for Gelinas in New Jersey, but he had fallen so far from grace that coach John Hynes used him on the wing back in January in a game against the Avalanche.

Video: Avs swing deals for Boedker, Gelinas

It was at that point general manager Ray Shero started to look at all the options for his young defenseman. Gelinas was made a healthy scratch for nine straight games ahead of the trade, but he's finally going to get a chance thanks to Patrick Roy, who was familiar with him from his days in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Gelinas (1 percent owned) got his first chance at a reboot on Tuesday, suiting up on a pairing with Chris Bigras during a 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild. He didn't get on the scoresheet and didn't register a shot on goal but did post a plus-1 rating.  

This could be a very good situation for him if Roy follows through on getting him some power-play time, as he told the Denver Post on Tuesday. That is where Gelinas will thrive. For his career, he's scored 39 points with the man-advantage. That accounts for 72 percent of his career output.

He has a booming shot that has helped him score 14 career goals, but what really jumps off the page are his career 1.29 points and 6.7 shots per 60 minutes. Those numbers speak to someone who might turn into a very effective fantasy player if he is given a true opportunity with the Avalanche.

He has some defensive shortcomings, but if Roy controls his minutes, as he did Tuesday when he played Gelinas for 10:58, the Avalanche and fantasy owners could get maximum bang for their buck.

John-Michael Liles to the Boston Bruins

Liles (1 percent owned) has great mobility, offensive upside and veteran savvy, which is what interested the Bruins. His last 40-point season was 2010-11 with the Avalanche, but as he proved last season, with 22 points in 57 games, he can produce when given the chance. He has 15 points in 65 games this season and made his debut in Boston on Tuesday. Claude Julien played him on a pairing with Adam McQuaid and he spent 16:55 on the ice, with 1:49 of that coming on the power play. He managed one SOG and no points. He is never going to be a No. 1 or even a No. 2 option on a fantasy blue line, but if you need a depth defenseman, he could be your man.

Video: CAR@TOR: Liles evens score with big shot

Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars

If your league gives credit for blocked shots, Russell is your man. He currently ranks second in the NHL with 175 blocks and that is where the Stars hope he'll help most. He made his debut with the club Tuesday on a pair with Jordie Benn and managed one block, one hit and two SOG over 18:21 of ice time. He didn't get any power-play time and spent 2:49 killing penalties during the Stars' 5-3 loss at the Nashville Predators.

Last season, with Mark Giordano out, he showed some offensive upside, picking up 34 points in 79 games. He had 14 points on the power play and was a plus-18.

He's dipped to four goals and 15 points in 52 games this season, but he could see a boost in most offensive categories if he earns any power-play time. Modest gains are a likely possibility just getting to share the sheet with players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, so keep an eye on him. He's owned in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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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, power-play points and shots on goal).

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

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