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On the 'D'-Fence: Hot commodities at trade deadline

by Brian Metzer /
Every Tuesday 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 National Hockey League's trade deadline has come and gone, and though it might not have been as busy as some had hoped, we did see a number of defensemen change addresses before 3 p.m. Monday. In fact, 18 rearguards found themselves on the move which pushed the total to 22 over the last five days.

Though all of those moves did not come with fantasy implications, a number of them did, as player value was either gained or lost by the shuffling of rosters and depth charts. It is the perfect example of "one man's loss being another's gain" and today we will look at some of the scenarios that should be on your radar as we head down the stretch of the NHL and fantasy seasons.


These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings.)
Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets -- This trade probably provided the biggest fantasy ripple, as it has likely affected the value of six different players.

From a Kings perspective, Drew Doughty, who was already the top dog offensively, could be in line for even more minutes on special teams. He will not be sharing top power-play minutes, will play in all scenarios in which the team is pressing offensively, and could see a modest spike in his production. However the guy that sees the biggest increase in value is Slava Voynov.

Voynov may not have been scoring at a breakneck pace in the American League, notching just 4 points in 15 games this season, but he can help your team. The youngster has posted 11 points (4g, 7a), 56 shots on goal and registered a plus-5 in 35 games for the Kings and will be with the team for the rest of the season. He is especially valuable in keeper or dynasty formats.

On the Blue Jackets side of things, Johnson gives the team a "1B" to James Wisniewski and the two will man the points on the top power-play unit. It also alleviates some of the offensive pressure on Wisniewski and could actually help him be a more effective player, as he won't be expected to log quite as many minutes in all areas of the game. 

If there is one concern with Johnson, it is his plus-minus, which sat at a wretched minus-90 for his career before being dealt to the Jackets. He will likely see that number get worse before it gets better, but he will log a ton of minutes and could really help fantasy teams with his booming slap shot and ability to move the puck.

Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin see their fantasy value hurt a bit in this deal, as each will see less time on the power play and could actually lose ice time at even strength as Johnson and Wisniewski log big minutes. 

Marek Zidlicky, Devils / Kurtis Foster, Wild -- Zidlicky was on our list of fantasy sleepers early this season and did not live up to expectations; in fact, this season can only be classified as a nightmare for the 35-year-old. That all changed when he finally got his wish and joined the Devils, where he immediately joined their top power-play unit and is logging over 19 minutes per game. He is already a minus-3 with his new team, but he should be a valuable point producer the rest of the way playing with stars like Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise.

Foster jumped right onto the point of the Minnesota power play and logged upwards of 4 minutes with the unit during his first game. Though the team also acquired puck moving defenseman Tom Gilbert on Monday, we fully expect Foster to log most of the top power-play minutes alongside Jared Spurgeon. Foster averaged .43 points and 1.93 shots per game in New Jersey and could see modest improvements in both statistics moving forward.

Marc-Andre Gragnani, Canucks -- Gragnani was on our radar early in the season, as he posted 8 points (1g, 7a) through the first two months of the season. He was especially effective in posting 5 points (1g, 4a) over a nine-game stretch in November, but ultimately fell out of favor with Lindy Ruff and found himself a healthy scratch for six consecutive games before being dealt.

Though he has numbers stacked against him again in Vancouver, he is being looked at as a power-play specialist and could immediately pay dividends if he works himself into a roll on their top unit. He has great vision, is a slick passer and could put up some intriguing numbers if he gets on the ice with Alexander Edler and the Sedin twins. Like Voynov, he is especially valuable in keeper or dynasty formats.

Johnny Oduya, Blackhawks -- Though Oduya isn't the same player that posted seasons of 26 and 29 points for the New Jersey Devils between 2007 and 2009, he is still a very capable puck-moving defenseman who managed to notch 30 points (4g, 26a) over the past two seasons while playing behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. That gives us reason to believe that he can do much the same thing in Chicago behind Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. He will also get to skate with a more talented group of forwards and likely post a better plus-minus rating. If you are looking for some blue-line help in a deeper league, he could be your guy.

The Jets added Grant Clitsome via the waiver wire earlier on deadline day, thus allowing them to move Oduya and the former could also be an option in deeper league. Let's not forget that Clitsome is the same guy that posted 19 points over the Blue Jackets' final 31 games one season ago, and the change in scenery could do wonders for him. Yes, he slides behind Byfuglien and Enstrom on the power-play depth chart, but he is a talented kid who can shoot and pass with the best of them. We are especially fond of him in keeper or dynasty leagues.

Kyle Quincey, Red Wings -- Quincey heads to "Hockeytown" via the Tampa Bay Lightning, who acquired him for Steven Downie before flipping him to the Red Wings for a first-round pick. He was already an effective fantasy play as a member of the Avalanche, but becomes even more so on a very good Red Wings team. Though he is going to have to share the prime offensive minutes with Nicklas Lidstrom and Ian White, he has already picked up an assist with the Wings and is logging over 20 minutes per game.

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