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Fantasy top 60 defensemen: Daley gets opportunity

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com 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.


The Chicago Blackhawks haven't exactly roared out of the gate this season and find themselves sitting at 3-3-0 and in sixth place in the Central Division. If that wasn't bad enough, news broke Tuesday they would be without the services of two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Duncan Keith for the next 4-6 weeks after the 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy winner had surgery to repair a right meniscal tear.

If there is anyone who can feel the Blackhawks' pain, it's the countless fantasy hockey owners who used the 47th overall pick on average in Yahoo Standard Leagues to draft Keith, whose ownership sits at 100 percent.

Keith is not easy to replace, and until now it hasn't really been necessary.

He has never missed more than eight games in a season since coming into the NHL in 2005, but this injury could keep him out for anywhere from 12-20 games if he is out the full six weeks.

The 32-year-old is involved in all facets of the Blackhawks game, averaging 24:21 of ice time per game, with 3:31 of that coming on the power play. In terms of defensemen, only the Los Angeles Kings' Drew Doughty and the Minnesota Wild's Ryan Suter have averaged more ice time than Keith over the past five seasons.

Keith will also be missed offensively; he's scored 40 or more points during each of his past six full seasons, which is where those fantasy implications come in.

I'm here to tell you there could be a solution sitting right there on the Blackhawks roster in the form of Brent Seabrook and Trevor Daley. Those players will not be able to offset everything that Keith does for the Blackhawks, but they can certainly assist in fantasy circles.

Seabrook is already owned in 84 percent of Yahoo leagues and for good reason.

He has two 40-plus point seasons on his resume and it wouldn't be out of the question to see him slide into a bigger role on the power play. He's already logging the second-most minutes among defensemen on the Blackhawks, averaging 13:33 overall and 2:16 on the power play.

He's the first choice among internal options, but the defenseman no one seems to be thinking about is Trevor Daley, acquired from the Dallas Stars in the Patrick Sharp trade this summer.

Daley is coming off of a career season that saw him roll up 16 goals, 38 points, 34 penalty minutes and 113 shots on goal. He was a standout on the power play and showed he could have success with skilled players. Maybe he could do that same thing with the Blackhawks dynamic core.

It is worth noting Daley also helped owners in secondary categories such as blocks (123) and hits (29).

The transition from Dallas to Chicago has been a slow one, but if pressed into a bigger role that might start to come easier. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville seems to like what he's seen recently from Daley, especially in the areas that could be beneficial to fantasy owners.

"Trevor gives us a nice dimension from the back end, off the point," Quenneville said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "He's got some quickness joining the rush and jumping through, and even off the point as well. Defensively, it's something where, every day, I think we're seeing improvements in his game, his stick, and his positioning as well."

Daley is definitely a work in progress, but with a big horse like Keith being pushed out to pasture for 4-6 weeks, it might be worth taking a flyer on a veteran player with upside.

His totals aren't eye-popping, one assist through six games, but it did come on the power play. He is carrying a plus-1 rating, has nine shots on goal and is owned in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Torey Krug
Defense - BOS
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 6
SOG: 16 | +/-: 2
TRENDING UP

Torey Krug, Boston Bruins

Krug has long looked like the heir apparent on the Bruins blue line and he's been one of their best stories through the first couple weeks. Krug has six assists over his past four games after being held off the board in the season opener. Five of those points have come on the power play, where he is logging 3:56 TOI per game. Overall he is right behind Zdeno Chara in terms of total ice time per game, getting 23:08 per night, he's collected two PIMs, 16 shots on goal and a plus-2 rating. Krug is owned in 90 percent of Yahoo leagues, but he's a player we'd target. Especially if you just lost a player like Keith.

TRENDING DOWN

Toby Enstrom, Winnipeg Jets

Enstrom plays on a team that has scored the most goals in the League with 18 over five games. You'd think that would translate into numbers for a puck mover like Enstrom, but it hasn't. He has yet to collect a point on the season and more surprisingly hasn't registered a shot on goal. Until he shows he can be a more reliably owned player, we'd suggest looking elsewhere for production.

Ben Hutton
Defense - VAN
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 3
SOG: 15 | +/-: 2
KEEP AN EYE ON

Ben Hutton, Vancouver Canucks

Hutton hasn't been thrust into a huge role with the Canucks yet, but it could be looming on the fantasy horizon. He is currently on their third pair with Luca Sbisa and is getting second-unit power-play time, but he's already found a way to get three assists through six games. Two of them came in a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 16. He has one power-play point, 15 shots on goal and is plus-2. He's a definite grab in keeper and dynasty formats, but his standard league value is on the rise. He's owned in two percent of Yahoo leagues.


TOP 60 FANTASY DEFENSEMEN

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

Key injuries: Duncan Keith, TJ Brodie, Danny DeKeyser, James Wisniewski

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