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Fantasy top 60 'D': Barrie a bright spot for Avalanche

by Brian Metzer /

Every Wednesday during the season, fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.


Patrick Roy returned to the Colorado Avalanche last season and coached them to the third-best record in the NHL and their first berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in three seasons. Many players contributed to that success, including Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon, but defensemen Tyson Barrie might have been an even bigger surprise.

Barrie, selected in the third round (No. 64) of the 2009 NHL Draft, took a few years to develop, making his debut on Feb. 7, 2012. He played 42 games over his first two seasons in the League, scoring 13 points (two goals).

That wasn't what fantasy owners expected after seeing Barrie collect a combined 289 points over 342 games with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League and the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League. So they were thrilled to see him finally break out during Roy's magical first season.

The 23-year-old appeared in 64 games and established himself as a key contributor from the back end for the Avalanche in both 5-on-5 situations and the power play, where he averaged 2:47 of time on ice per night. He established career highs in goals (13), assists (25), points (38), power play points (10), shots on goal (101) and penalty minutes (20).

Those totals earned Barrie a new two-year contract with the Avalanche and had fantasy owners making him the 26th defenseman off the board in Yahoo Standard League drafts this fall. Unfortunately, the Avalanche haven't responded the way they did last season and are wallowing in last place in the Central Division and sitting third from the bottom in the Western Conference.

With the Avalanche struggling, Barrie starred and out-produced his draft position almost immediately by scoring 20 points in his first 26 games, but it is what happened in the following 10 games that had owners tweeting questions asking if they should cut bait.

Tyson Barrie
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 24
SOG: 71 | +/-: -2
Barrie picked up one assist as the Avalanche floundered offensively, averaging just 2.00 goals per game over that span.

The case of Barrie is one that calls for some patience. If you stuck with him, he is currently riding a three-game point streak that has seen him collect three assists, five shots on goal and a plus-5 rating.

While the recent dry spell might have made it appear Barrie was headed for an off season, he is actually ahead of last season's pace. His points per game are up from .59 to .61 and his shots per game have jumped from 1.57 to 1.74. He is producing at roughly the same rate on the power play and is on pace to set career highs in hits and blocked shots.

Barrie is still owned in 80 percent of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues, but now might be the time to check in about making a deal for him. He will be productive, as his current and former hot streaks have shown, and you may be able to catch someone napping on the fact he had that rough 10-game stretch.

Ryan Ellis
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 18
SOG: 81 | +/-: 12

Ryan Ellis, Nashville Predators -- Ellis recently went through a dry spell of four games, but he is heating up and has put together a run that's seen him collect two goals and three assists over a three-game scoring streak. Ellis is skating close to 20 minutes per night, gets time on the power play and has pushed his season totals to five goals, 13 assists, 81 shots on goal and an attractive plus-12 rating. He may not be scoring enough to be used in all standard leagues, but he certainly brings a ton of punch in deeper formats. He is owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues, so there is a good chance he is available in yours.


Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay Lightning -- Garrison recently missed four games with an undisclosed injury, but has not been producing much even when he's been in the lineup. He has just three points over his past 14 games and he's registered a minus-3 rating over his past eight. He still possesses a big shot from the point but isn't getting the power-play time he once was. While he could provide some production in deeper leagues, we'd suggest looking elsewhere for production.

Simon Despres
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 10
SOG: 49 | +/-: 8

Simon Despres, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Despres is finally starting to show the hockey world why he was a first-round pick (No. 30) in 2009. He has four assists over his past eight games, but what makes him worth a look is he can help in a variety of categories. He recently had a seven-shot game, pushing his season total to 49, he's up to 10 points and he is second among all defensemen in hits with 121. Playing on a talented Penguins team, 25 points is feasible. He is owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues.


These rankings are based on expectations for the season ahead. Value is quantified by defense pairings, overall upside and past performance in standard Yahoo categories (goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal). NOTE: Players with D/RW eligibility in Yahoo leagues (Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Burns) have been ranked as defensemen.

1 Mark Giordano, CGY (SAME) 31 Brent Seabrook, CHI (-3)
2 Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (SAME) 32 James Wisniewski, CBJ (-2)
3 Brent Burns, D/RW, SJS (SAME) 33 Dennis Wideman, CGY (+2)
4 P.K. Subban, MTL (+2) 34 Jake Muzzin, LAK (+5)
5 Shea Weber, NSH (+2) 35 Nick Leddy, NYI (+2)
6 Erik Karlsson, OTT (-2) 36 Jason Garrison, TBL (-7)
7 Kris Letang, PIT (-2) 37 Marek Zidlicky, NJD (-4)
8 Keith Yandle, ARI (+1) 38 Trevor Daley, DAL (-2)
9 Victor Hedman, TBL (+1) 39 Aaron Ekblad, FLA (+2)
10 Duncan Keith, CHI (+1) 40 Justin Schultz, EDM (SAME)
11 TJ Brodie, CGY (+1) 41 Erik Johnson, COL (+1)
12 Sami Vatanen, ANA (+1) 42 Torey Krug, BOS (+1)
13 Ryan Suter, MIN (-5) 43 Dion Phaneuf, TOR (+1)
14 Dustin Byfuglien, D/RW, WPG (+1) 44 Matt Niskanen, WSH (-6)
15 Drew Doughty, LAK (+3) 45 Dougie Hamilton, BOS (+1)
16 Tyson Barrie, COL (SAME) 46 Justin Faulk, CAR (+1)
17 Alex Pietrangelo, STL (-3) 47 Hampus Lindholm, ANA (-2)
18 Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (-1) 48 Anton Stralman, TBL (SAME)
19 John Carlson, WSH (+3) 49 Danny DeKeyser, DET (SAME)
20 Niklas Kronwall, DET (-1) 50 Jack Johnson, CBJ (SAME)
21 Mark Streit, PHI (+3) 51 Mike Green, WSH (+2)
22 Ryan McDonagh, NYR (+3) 52 Ryan Ellis, NSH (+7)
23 Zdeno Chara, BOS (-3) 53 Andrej Sekera, CAR (-5)
24 Johnny Boychuk, NYI (+2) 54 Jared Spurgeon, MIN (SAME)
25 Andrei Markov, MTL (-3) 55 Marco Scandella, MIN (SAME)
26 Cam Fowler, ANA (-3) 56 Alexander Edler, VAN (+2)
27 Roman Josi, NSH (+5) 57 Kevin Klein, NYR (-1)
28 Christian Ehrhoff, PIT (NR - IR) 58 Brian Campbell, FLA (-6)
29 Cody Franson, TOR (-2) 59 John Klingberg, DAL (-2)
30 Alex Goligoski, DAL (+1) 60 Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (SAME)

Key injuries: Olli Maatta, Tobias Enstrom, Ryan Murray, Kimmo Timonen, Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian, Damon Severson, Lubomir Visnovsky

*NR - IR: Not ranked last week because of injury


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