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Fantasy Spin: Surprising forward-defenseman pairs

by Pete Jensen /

It's no secret that chemistry between two skaters can pay major dividends in fantasy hockey.

Having two players on your roster that work cohesively and regularly combine to account for team goals can compound normal statistical production in your favor. It's comparable to having a strong quarterback-wide receiver connection in fantasy football. Common success between two players can give your team a sizable boost.

But while this season's most productive forward-to-forward point pairs (Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, etc.) could have been anticipated prior to the season, it would have been much more difficult to detect which forward-defenseman combinations have been most valuable to this point.

So far, the most valuable forward-defenseman point pairs are surprising to say the least. Here's why having these lesser-owned tandems could help your squad moving forward:

Marian Gaborik (RW) and James Wisniewski (D), Columbus Blue Jackets

James Wisniewski
Defense - CBJ
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 7
SOG: 21 | +/-: -2
Gaborik (nine points in eight games) is the focal point of the Blue Jackets' offense and has rediscovered his point-production consistency out of the gate this season. Wisniewski, who had a goal and two assists Tuesday -- including a helper on Gaborik's empty-net goal, has registered a common point with Gaborik five times already this season (tied for first among forward-defenseman pairs). Despite injury issues in recent years (78 games played of a potential 130 from 2011-12 to 2012-13), Wisniewski has been in good health so far. He's a natural facilitator on the Blue Jackets' top power-play unit who will see time with Gaborik all season long barring injury. Wisniewski is only owned in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues, so Gaborik owners should make a concerted effort to reel him in if they still can.

Jiri Hudler (LW) and Mark Giordano (D), Calgary Flames

Jiri Hudler
Center - CGY
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 12
SOG: 15 | +/-: 3
Hudler has emerged as one of the biggest surprises of the early fantasy season. He tallied another assist Tuesday to extend his season-opening point streak to nine games (longest in the NHL). He has been valuable with the man advantage (six power-play points) and his Yahoo ownership has skyrocketed from the 10-15 percent range earlier this season to 55-60 percent this week. Giordano (64 percent owned) has seen nearly four minutes per game on the power-play and has done most of his damage in conjunction with Hudler. The Giordano-Hudler duo has recorded a point on four Flames power-play goals this season, tied with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green of the Washington Capitals for the most among forward-defenseman pairs. Giordano has already exceeded his multi-point game total from last season (three in 2013-14, two in 2012-13) and appears revitalized after being named captain. While it remains to be seen if this pair will keep it going, Calgary continues to score at a high rate (3.11 goals per game, tied for eighth). Fantasy owners should try to corral this duo and reap the benefits as long as they can.


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