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Fantasy top 60 'D': Injury void of Ducks' Vatanen

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com 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.

UPDATED TOP 60 DEFENSEMEN RANKINGS

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen first tantalized fantasy owners last season when he averaged .44 points over 48 games as a rookie. He improved upon that this season by averaging .60 points over 57 games.

Unfortunately, he left during the first period of the Ducks' 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday with a lower-body injury that is expected to keep him out of action for 4-6 weeks.

Eric Stephens of The Orange County Register reported Vatanen hasn't suffered a fracture and his injury will not require surgery, which is definitely good news.

The bad news?

It isn't easy to replace a player that is leading all Ducks defensemen in scoring with 34 points (12 goals), is third on the team in total ice time, averaging 21:40 of ice time each night and ranks 15th in scoring among all NHL defensemen.

That task gets even harder when you consider Vatanen ranks sixth among NHL defensemen with 17 power-play points.

Ducks general manager Bob Murray was already working the phones in hopes of landing another defenseman, having been connected to Tyler Myers in the rumor mill prior to his being traded to the Winnipeg Jets. Vatanen's injury will intensify that search.

In the meantime, the Ducks will start looking for his replacement in the same place that fantasy owners should: their own roster.

Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm will each log time with the top power-play unit. The fact those opportunities with the extra man come with Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon is just gravy. That quintet will be a threat to score every time it is on the ice.

Cam Fowler
STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 18 GAMES
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 25
SOG: 62 | +/-: 0
Fowler and Lindholm each have 25 points (five goals) on the season. They have combined for 14 power-play points, but that number should increase without Vatanen.

We'd suggest focusing on Lindholm since he is owned in just 39 percent of Yahoo Standard leagues. He is also the younger of the two and has 10 more shots on goal over the course of the season.

Lindholm also brings a healthy plus-14 rating to the table. He posted an impressive plus-29 last season and could approach that again this season depending on his overall role while Vatanen is out.

A few other players to consider who are probably on the waiver wire in your league:

Jeff Petry, Edmonton Oilers -- Petry is a coveted player heading into the NHL Trade Deadline (March 2, 3 p.m. ET). He has 15 points in 57 games, 100 shots on goal and 30 penalty minutes. The issue is that he has an ugly plus-25 rating. That should change once he is dealt to a contender. It is also worth noting he has four assists over his past five games and has great mobility. Petry is currently owned in one percent of Yahoo Standard leagues.

Oscar Klefbom, Edmonton Oilers -- Klefbom has been popping up in plenty of water cooler conversations around fantasy circles, and for good reason. He has two goals and four assists over his past 10 games. That gets more interesting when you consider he has 10 points on the season. He has 50 shots on goal, 53 blocked shots and 33 hits to help in those secondary categories. His role will likely increase once Petry moves, and he is owned in two percent of Yahoo Standard leagues.

Cody Ceci, Ottawa Senators -- Ceci has a ton of offensive upside and has been showing it off as of late. The youngster has two goals and one assist over his past three games and now has 17 points (five goals) in 54 games this season. Ceci also has 85 shots on goal, 49 hits and 67 blocked shots. He is owned in two percent of Yahoo Standard leagues.


Tyler Myers
STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 18 GAMES
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 16
SOG: 80 | +/-: -15
TRENDING UP

Tyler Myers, Winnipeg Jets

Fantasy owners, like many around the NHL, have been waiting for Myers to recapture the form of his rookie year in Buffalo when he was awarded the Calder Trophy as the League's top first-year player. The jury is still out on if that can happen in Winnipeg, where he arrived in the Evander Kane trade, but early returns are positive. In three games with the Jets, Myers has one goal and two assists. He has four hits, three blocked shots, eight shots on goal and a power-play point. He is owned in 26 percent of Yahoo Leagues and that number will soon rise if he keeps up this pace.

TRENDING DOWN

Alexander Edler, Vancouver Canucks

Edler had two points over his past 13 games and is now listed as week-to-week with an injury. He was limited to 20 shots on goal over that span and hasn't looked like the guy who scored 49 points back in 2011-12 for quite some time. It is probably time to seek fantasy contributions elsewhere.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers

Timonen, who has been out all season recovering from blood clots in his legs and chest, returned to practice with his teammates on Tuesday in hopes of playing this season. It is expected he will require at least 10 days to get into game shape, at which point the Flyers will make a determination on how to get him back into their lineup. There is a slight chance he could be dealt to a contender if the Flyers, who currently sit six points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot, fall out of contention. He has long been a big fantasy contributor and could help down the stretch in the right situation. He is owned in two percent of Yahoo leagues.


TOP 60 FANTASY DEFENSEMEN

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

Key injuries: Sami Vatanen, Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Shattenkirk, Olli Maatta, Kimmo Timonen, Damon Severson, Ryan Ellis, Matt Carle, Erik Johnson, Dion Phaneuf, Kevin Bieksa

Dropped out: Alexander Edler

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

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