The St. Louis Blues announced Monday that defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will have abdominal surgery within the next seven to 10 days and will be week-to-week following the procedure. If all goes well, fantasy owners should have the NHL leader in assists (32) and power-play points (22) among defensemen back for the fantasy playoffs. But capable fill-in options must be considered in the interim.
There are a few defensemen who could be available that cover the same categories Shattenkirk (a majority pick by NHL.com fantasy staff as the top fantasy defenseman at the midseason) would but on a smaller scale. Most should be available in smaller leagues, but a few players included likely can be had in larger leagues as well:
FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS
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Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils (owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- It's important to seek a player with the capability to produce on the power play and Zidlicky's 11 power-play points ranks him first among defensemen owned in less than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues. Though the Devils have struggled to score at even strength this season, they entered play Tuesday ninth in the NHL with a 20.4 percent success rate on the power play. Considering the Devils could be sellers at the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline, which is 3 p.m. ET on March 2, adding Zidlicky now may give you a big return later if he lands with a more offensively potent contending team down the stretch.
John Klingberg or Trevor Daley, Dallas Stars (owned in 29 percent and 25 percent of Yahoo leagues, respectively) -- The buzz has been loud on Klingberg recently; he was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for January on Monday. Though it's likely he is available only in shallow fantasy leagues, owners should jump at the opportunity of adding Klingberg, who has five goals and 11 points in his past eight games. Daley is just as hot, with four goals and seven points in his past seven games. He has 10 power-play points and 83 shots on goal in 46 games this season.
Kevin Klein, New York Rangers (owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- The downside of being in a deeper league is that quality options are tough to find on the waiver wire, so owners have to settle on taking a chance on a player who puts up great numbers in at least one category. Though Klein has been kept off the scoresheet the past five games after getting assists in back-to-back games, his plus-19 rating, tied with Rick Nash for the Rangers lead, makes him an attractive short-term replacement candidate. Klein leads Rangers defensemen in scoring with 17 points, and he has eight of the Rangers' 22 goals by defensemen this season.
Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings (owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- A fill-in option for those playing in leagues with 12 or more teams. DeKeyser is second among Red Wings defensemen with 18 assists and 20 points in 48 games, and his plus-6 rating leads Detroit defenders. It makes DeKeyser a decent choice to sustain some of your fantasy categories while you wait out Shattenkirk's recovery.