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Fantasy top 60 defensemen: Buy low on Muzzin

by Brian Metzer /

Every Wednesday during the season, fantasy hockey contributor Brian Metzer provides in-depth defenseman analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer is your go-to guy for fantasy D-men advice all season long.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin took a hit from Colorado Avalanche forward Blake Comeau during a preseason game Sept. 27 that left him with what the team called an upper-body injury.

That injury lingered as the regular season began. While Muzzin has played all 12 of the Kings' games, he wasn't doing so at 100 percent.

He was a minus-6 in his first three games and went seven games without a point. Some of that was due to the Kings losing their first three games. But health also played a role.

Muzzin, one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL and in fantasy leagues, began to round into form Oct 18 against the same team that injured him, the Avalanche.

He helped kill off a 5-on-3 Avalanche power play during the third period and had four shots on goal, a plus-1 rating and three blocked shots in a 2-1 victory for that went down as the second of seven straight Kings wins.

Jake Muzzin
Defense - LAK
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 6
SOG: 28 | +/-: 2
He'd have to wait two more games for his first point, but he's been hot ever since. Muzzin had one goal and five assists during a four-game point streak that ended Tuesday. He has 12 shots on goal in his past five games has been one of the Kings' best defensemen.

Drew Doughty may get most of the headlines, but a closer look reveals that Muzzin has a ton of value not only for the Kings, but also fantasy owners. More people are aware of that after he had an NHL career-high 10 goals and 41 points last season, but he was sort of a forgotten man during drafts this season.

He wasn't selected until the 13th round in leagues in which he was picked, and he is owned in 59 percent of Yahoo leagues. That number is going to change soon, so now is the time to take advantage and snap him up.

He is skating on the Kings' second pair with Alec Martinez and he's averaging 2:23 of ice time per game on the No. 1 power-play unit with Doughty and forwards Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson and Dustin Brown. He plays in all situations, an average of 22:27 per game.

He has one goal, five assists, one power-play point and 28 shots on goal through 12 games and also is helping fantasy owners in leagues that count secondary stats in much the same way that he helps the Kings, with blocked shots. He had two before the Oct 18 game, but since then he has 18 blocked shots and is averaging 1.7 blocked shots per game.

The Kings might have seen their winning streak snapped Monday, but they are got right back on track with a victory against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, and they're getting major contributions from Muzzin. You should do the same, so snap him up in your league before someone else does.


Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

Morgan Rielly
Defense - TOR
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 8
SOG: 21 | +/-: -3
It might not be the best of times in Toronto, but there has been a major bright spot and his name is Morgan Rielly. He had one goal and two assists in a 4-1 victory against the Dallas Stars on Monday, which gave him a Maple Leafs-best eight points.

Rielly, 21, has scored or been credited with an assist on one-third of the Maple Leafs' 24 non-shootout goals in 11 games, is logging a Maple Leafs-best 22:32 of ice time per game and is averaging 1.9 shots on goal per game. While it probably is foolish to think he'll continue to score at such a high rate, surpassing the 29 points he had last season should happen easily.

He is skating on the second pair with Matt Hunwick and is getting No. 1 power-play time. In most games he appears to be one of the best players on the ice and that can help your fantasy team. He is owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues, so there is a good chance he is available in yours.


Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia Flyers

Del Zotto has seen plenty of highs and lows during his career. He seemed to be catching a new high with a solid first season in 2014-15 with the Flyers that saw him finish with 10 goals and 32 points. He hasn't been able to recapture that play so far this season with one assist in 12 games.

He's gone eight games without a point and is a minus-6 for the season.

There are a couple things to like, such as the fact that he's averaging 23:37 of ice time per game, including 2:03 per game on the power play. You can assume that he will break through eventually and start to produce with the talented forwards that he plays with, but it isn't always easy to wait.

It probably is time to stash him away or to seek production elsewhere.


Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens

All fantasy owners are familiar with Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban and both are ranked in our top 10. But Petry is another Canadiens defenseman starting to raise his profile; he has three points in his past three games and one goal and four assists in 14 games this season.

He is skating on the second pairing with Alexei Emelin and is getting No. 2 power-play time. He likely won't carry the load of a No. 1 fantasy defenseman, but considering that he is owned in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, he could help you.

He is averaging 2.0 shots on goal per game, and has 25 hits, 19 blocked shots and three power-play points. Those are the kinds of numbers that could make the difference between winning and losing a weekly match.


These rankings are based on expectations for this season. Value is quantified by defense pairings, power-play usage, past performance and overall upside in standard Yahoo categories (goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal).

1 P.K. Subban, MTL (SAME) 31 Jake Muzzin, LAK (+4)
2 Erik Karlsson, OTT (SAME) 32 Erik Johnson, COL (-2)
3 Victor Hedman, TBL (+1) 33 Francois Beauchemin, COL (-2)
4 Brent Burns, SJS (-1) 34 Niklas Kronwall, DET (-1)
5 John Carlson, WSH (+1) 35 Dion Phaneuf, TOR (+4)
6 Andrei Markov, MTL (+1) 36 Aaron Ekblad, FLA (-2)
7 Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (-2) 37 Cam Fowler, ANA (SAME)
8 Roman Josi, NSH (SAME) 38 Olli Maatta, PIT (+2)
9 Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (SAME) 39 Andrej Sekera, EDM (-3)
10 Shea Weber, NSH (SAME) 40 Marek Zidlicky, NYI (-2)
11 Kris Letang, PIT (SAME) 41 Morgan Rielly, TOR (NEW)
12 John Klingberg, DAL (+4) 42 Nick Leddy, NYI (+1)
13 Justin Faulk, CAR (+2) 43 Jason Demers, DAL (NEW)
14 Drew Doughty, LAK (+3) 44 Alex Goligoski, DAL (-3)
15 Mark Giordano, CGY (-2) 45 Matt Niskanen, WSH (-3)
16 Keith Yandle, NYR (-2) 46 Zdeno Chara, BOS (+2)
17 Mark Streit, PHI (+1) 47 Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (-3)
18 Alex Pietrangelo, STL (+1) 48 Trevor Daley, CHI (-3)
19 Torey Krug, BOS (+1) 49 Jason Garrison, TBL (-3)
20 Dennis Wideman, CGY (+1) 50 Seth Jones, NSH (-3)
21 Ryan Suter, MIN (+5) 51 Colton Parayko, STL (SAME)
22 Tyson Barrie, COL (+1) 52 Jacob Trouba, WPG (-3)
23 Johnny Boychuk, NYI (+1) 53 Ryan Ellis, NSH (-3)
24 Anton Stralman, TBL (+2) 54 Brian Campbell, FLA (NEW)
25 Dougie Hamilton, CGY (+2) 55 Ben Hutton, VAN (-1)
26 Sami Vatanen, ANA (+2) 56 David Savard, CBJ (SAME)
27 Cody Franson, BUF (+2) 57 Travis Hamonic, NYI (-4)
28 TJ Brodie, CGY (NR - INJ.) 58 Hampus Lindholm, ANA (SAME)
29 Ryan McDonagh, NYR (-7) 59 Marc Staal, NYR (SAME)
30 Brent Seabrook, CHI (+2) 60 Jack Johnson, CLB (-3)

Dropped out: Michael Del Zotto, Toby Enstrom, Trevor van Riemsdyk

Key injuries: Kevin Shattenkirk, Duncan Keith, Mike Green, James Wisniewski, Kyle Quincey


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