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Fantasy top 60 'D': Habs' Gonchar, Therrien reunite

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.


It isn't often you have the opportunity to find a difference-making defenseman sitting on the waiver wire a month into the season in a Yahoo Standard League, but that is exactly what you could be getting if you're willing to take a chance on Sergei Gonchar.

The veteran is owned in just five percent of leagues, but his value got a shot in the arm when he was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Montreal Canadiens last week.

Playing in Montreal doesn't change the fact he is 40 years old, a step or two slower and in the twilight of his career, but it does put him back in a situation that helped him have some of the most productive seasons of his career: playing in Michel Therrien's system.


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"I feel comfortable already," Gonchar recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "When I'm in Mike's system, I always feel comfortable. It's good to be back with him. Hopefully we can win together."

Gonchar, who picked up his 800th career point on Saturday in a 6-3 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers, averaged .85 points per game over the 208 games that he played under Therrien with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He rolled up 32 goals, 177 points, 499 shots on goal and a plus-4 rating over that span.

The Chelyabinsk, Russia native has 102 power-play goals and 423 power-play points over the course of his career, collecting 22 of the goals and 123 of those points while playing for Therrien.

That comfort level in his new situation is going to benefit the Canadiens and it could benefit fantasy owners, specifically those who need a boost in power-play points. The Canadiens are hoping Gonchar will help jumpstart an anemic unit that has scored on 12.3 percent of its chances, 27th in the NHL.

Gonchar, who was skating just over 13 minutes a night with the Stars, 1:36 on the power play, has seen his minutes spike to an average of 18:49 and 3:06 respectively through four games with the Canadiens. He has picked up two assists, four penalty minutes, eight shots on goal and is a plus-2 over that span.

He is paired with Andrei Markov on the top power-play unit and it has put up 21 shots on goal and scored four goals over the past four games. These two countrymen have played together numerous times over the years in international competitions and they should each reward owners moving forward.

P.K. Subban
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 12
SOG: 37 | +/-: 0
P.K. Subban might see his value suffer a bit in the short term, but benefit over the long haul. While his points per game are on par with where they were a season ago, his power-play production is way down. He is also way off his 2.48 shots per game pace of the past four seasons and is taking just 1.84 this season.

Subban is already raving about having Gonchar around and could learn a lot of secrets from the wily veteran.

"He's already being very vocal with me," Subban told the Tribune-Review. "And that's a really good thing for me. I've actually encouraged him to be as vocal as possible with me. I want to learn everything from him that I possibly can."

While Gonchar may never break 60 points in a season again, or 50 for that matter, he could come close to 40 this season playing alongside guys like Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Subban, and Markov.

Kevin Shattenkirk
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 16
SOG: 36 | +/-: 8

Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues

Shattenkirk has taken over as the top offensive force on the St. Louis blue line. He has collected 16 points, 36 shots on goal, 10 penalty minutes and is a plus-8 in 18 games. He skates on the top power-play unit and has picked up five of his points over his past four games. He is a must-own player and is only getting better.


Trevor Daley, Dallas Stars

He only dropped two places in our ranks, but that will change if he doesn't get back on track. After starting the season red-hot, Daley has picked up one point over his past nine games and is a minus-7 over that span. He has also taken eight shots in November. He could turn it around, but for now look elsewhere.

Aaron Ekblad
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 10
SOG: 25 | +/-: 1

Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

It might have taken him a little while to get going this season, but the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft is looking the part. Ekblad has picked up eight points over his past eight games, is up to 10 points (two goals) on the season and has become a mainstay on the score sheet for his team. He has 25 shots and 17 blocks, so he's also chipping in across some other categories. Ekblad is owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues, so get him if you need some defensive help.


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

Dropped out: Ryan Ellis, Alexei Emelin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kris Russell

Key injuries: Ryan McDonagh, Zdeno Chara, Ryan Murray, Kimmo Timonen, Victor Hedman, Alec Martinez

NR - IR: Not ranked last week because of injury


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