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On the 'D'-fence: Fantasy owners Green with envy

by Brian Metzer /
Every Wednesday during the season, Correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy defensemen in our weekly segment: "On the 'D'-fence." From updated defensemen rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Metzer will be your fantasy d-man expert all season long.

The Washington Capitals went 2-8-1 in their first 11 games of the season.


These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings -- NR means not ranked in previous rankings. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.
* Was listed on IR in last week's rankings

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Cam Fowler, Ryan Whitney, Matt Niskanen, Erik Johnson, Matt Irwin

Erik Karlsson, Tobias Enstrom, Paul Martin, Marc Staal, Tyler Myers, Joni Pitkanen, Raphael Diaz, Andrej Meszaros, Alexei Emelin, Ryan Wilson

That start left them reeling and written off by many pundits. Instead, the Capitals would go on to become one of the streakiest teams in the League and as March came to an end they were still trying to get back to the .500 mark.

Then everything changed. A switch was flipped as the calendar flipped to April.

The team, led by its stars, has run off eight consecutive wins, taking them from looking for a lottery pick in the NHL Draft to leading the Southeast Division and third place in the Eastern Conference.

Alex Ovechkin has been a big reason for the turnaround, but the contributions of Mike Green cannot be overlooked.

The talented defenseman picked up just eight points (three goals) in his first 20 games of the season. He also found himself dealing with a nagging lower-body injury that knocked him out of the lineup for 13 games.

It looked like the Green, who was once the first defenseman selected in most fantasy drafts, would again find himself on all of the "most-dropped" lists and the target of ire from those that owned him.

But then, as if drawing motivation from the criticism around the hockey world, Green worked through his injury, got back in the lineup and has looked an awful lot like the guy who once hit the 70-point plateau in back-to-back seasons between 2008 -10.

Green has seven goals and four assists during his past 10 games and is playing with a confidence that had long been absent from his game. He is also shooting the puck a lot more frequently, picking up 34 shots on goal during that span.

He now has 19 points, 77 shots on goal and nine power-play points in 30 games this season and looks as if he'll be a very strong play during the League's final two weeks as the Capitals try to sew up the Southeast Division crown.

Green is owned in just 83 percent of Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues and could be sitting on the waiver wire in yours. The less astute fantasy owner might have missed the fact that he has been red-hot as of late, so you should take the opportunity to grab him and "rock the red" all the way to your league championship.


Grant Clitsome, Jets -- Clitsome, fantasy famous for the near point-per-game run he went on during the final 30 games two seasons ago, is back at it again. This time he is doing it for the Jets and he should be owned by every playoff team in need of a defenseman, especially considering that Tobias Enstrom is again on the shelf. Clitsome has four points (two goals), 13 shots on goal and a plus-7 during six April games and is owned in just three percent of Yahoo! Leagues.

Tyson Barrie, Avalanche -- Barrie has been on and off of our list this season, but it is time to put him back on. After going scoreless for four games and posting a minus-4 in the process, he has since reeled off four points during his past five games. He has also launched 18 shots on goal during his past seven games and has even chipped in 11 hits during that span. He is owned in just one percent of Yahoo! leagues, so if you need a defenseman for a spot start of more, he is likely there for you.

Trevor Daley, Stars -- Daley hasn't been mentioned here since last season, but he has showed some signs of fantasy life during the past couple weeks. After picking up just eight points during his first 34 games this season, he has picked up five points during his past six games. He could also be a nice source of blocked shots, as he has logged 20 blocks during eight April games. Daley is owned in just two percent of Yahoo! leagues.


Erik Johnson, Avalanche -- Back on March 14 it looked like Johnson might have been turning things around on his season. He had just logged two assists, blocked five shots and fired a couple shots on goal and then he went scoreless in 15 straight games. Johnson is a player that does have fantasy value, but we can't in good conscience tell you to roster him during your league playoffs. Not only has his production dried up, he is currently dealing with a hand injury that has him listed as day-to-day.

Ryan Whitney, Oilers -- Whitney spoke of being relieved by not being traded during the League's Trade Deadline on April 3 and, sadly, that relief is showing on the ice as his production has all but dried up. He last got on the score sheet April 3 when he notched two points (one goal), but has gone scoreless in five games since. If there is one thing that helps him maintain some of his fantasy value at this point, it is his 18 blocks during his past seven games. Whitney was a healthy scratch Tuesday night.

Cam Fowler, Ducks -- It is a sad day here, first Whitney and now Fowler. Both are players that we have long believed in, but at this late stage of the fantasy season, we have got to move on. He needs to be rostered in dynasty or keeper leagues, but he's been scoreless in four games and has just two over his last nine. That isn't cutting it in a single-season situation.


Jack Hillen, Capitals -- Hillen joins Steven Oleksy as a nice source of unexpected fantasy production on the Capitals blue line. The undrafted native of Minnetonka, Minn., has picked up six points (three goals) during his past five games. He has also launched seven shots on goal, blocked three shots and registered a plus-7 during that span. Hillen is owned in just three percent of Yahoo! leagues.

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