All season long, NHL.com will rank the top 50 fantasy defensemen for standard Yahoo leagues (goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points, shots on goal). Players with long-term injuries have been removed from this list.
These rankings are based on expectations for the rest of the season. Value is quantified by defense pairs, power-play usage, past performance and overall upside in standard leagues. Changes in value each week are based on recent performance and/or lineup trends.
We're entering crunch time of the fantasy hockey season. The playoffs are here in most formats and every category win and loss can make or break your season. Name value doesn't always matter at this point. Waiting out a slump too long could burn you.
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 100 'F' | TOP 25 'G' | SCHEDULE GUIDE | PROJ. GOALIES
With that in mind, it's always beneficial to ride the hot hand when possible. You need to identify players off the waiver wire who could make for good streaming options when your top dogs aren't playing on a given night. Utilizing your weekly add/drops and employing a streaming option who catches fire could make a huge difference in your championship run.
Here are a few defensemen who have been heating up recently that can offer support in each of the standard scoring categories. Some might even be worth holding onto for the rest of the fantasy playoffs.
Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes
Yahoo rank: 306; 13 percent owned
Games remaining: 15 (8H/7R)
Slavin scored his first career hat trick and had an assist in an 8-4 win against the New York Islanders on Monday, magnifying what has been a very productive stretch for the second-year defenseman. He has nine points, 16 SOG and is plus-6 in his past nine games, emerging as the No. 2 defenseman on the Hurricanes roster. After averaging 23:08 per game through his first 58 games, he has seen an even heavier workload (24:58) during this hot streak.
The Hurricanes are 3-1-2 in their past six and could continue to play spoiler in the Eastern Conference. Slavin will continue to see major minutes and should help with assists, points, plus/minus and SOG. Justin Faulk owners may also get a boost; he has five points and 13 SOG in his past five games paired mostly with Slavin.
Video: CAR@NYI: Slavin finds twine with long slap shot
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild
Yahoo rank: 145; 55 percent owned
Games remaining: 14 (8H/6R)
The Wild may have fallen out of first place in the Western Conference on Tuesday but they still feature many viable fantasy commodities. Defenseman Matt Dumba is one that just might be able to help you down the stretch. After scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, he has three points in his past four games. He is offering some category coverage in that span as well with a plus-3, eight PIMs and six SOG. He averages the third most ice time (20:08) among Wild defensemen and is getting 2:17 per game on the power play. He quietly ranks 23rd among defensemen in Yahoo based on standard-category performance.
Paul Martin, San Jose Sharks
Yahoo rank: 392; 1 percent owned
Games remaining: 13 (6H/7R)
Martin hasn't broken 30 points in a season since 2008-09 when he scored 33 points with the New Jersey Devils, but that could change this season. The 36-year-old draws a nightly assignment paired with Brent Burns, who leads defensemen in scoring (70 points in 69 games) and the League in SOG (272).
Martin is often asked to be the defensive conscience for the unit, but has put together a nice stretch of four points in his past four games with a plus-2 in the span, improving his season totals to 24 points and a plus-16 in 68 games. His shot total is very low (47) but he adds value if your league counts blocks (99). He's not going to pace your team in any category, but efficiency from your depth defensemen can go a long way in the fantasy playoffs. Martin is having his most productive season in nearly a decade, and could see the splash effect from Burns on any given night.
Video: CGY@SJS: Martin scores off a defender's skate
Thomas Hickey of the Islanders isn't the first name you might think of when fleshing out your fantasy roster, but he could warrant some consideration in deep formats if his hot streak continues. He was held off of the board by the Hurricanes on Tuesday, but has managed five assists, six PIMs, four SOG and a plus-4 over his past five games. He's seen his power-play time jump to an average of 1:09 minutes per game over this stretch and has one PPP. He may not be right for all formats, but if you are in need of some support in terms of assists and PIMs he could be your guy.
Jared Spurgeon (59 percent owned) of the Wild has been a pleasant surprise with 30 points and a plus-30 (T-5th in NHL) in 64 games. But unfortunately he's been held without a point in eight straight games. He has two points in his past 10 and is minus-3 in the span. There is one positive - he's managed 24 shots during his eight-game drought. He has been a minus player in six of his past 10, so you may only want to roll him out against non-contenders.
-- Sami Vatanen (56 percent owned) of the Anaheim Ducks has had a forgettable fantasy season, but he's having a nice March; he has four points, 22 SOG and is plus-1 in six games this month. His shot total ranks tied for fourth among defensemen in the span.
-- Jakob Chychrun (2 percent owned) of the Arizona Coyotes has four points, two on the power play, with a plus-2 and nine SOG in his past three games.
-- Trevor van Riemsdyk (1 percent owned) of the Chicago Blackhawks can provide peripheral category help in the deepest of formats. He has two goals, six SOG, 17 PIMs and is plus-1 in his past three games.
Video: MIN@CHI: Kruger finds van Riemsdyk for a tap-in goal
Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen
These rankings were last updated March 15
1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME)
2. Erik Karlsson, OTT (+1)
3. Victor Hedman, TBL (-1)
4. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (+1)
5. Kevin Shattenkirk, WSH (-1)
6. Duncan Keith, CHI (SAME)
7. Roman Josi, NSH (+2)
8. Drew Doughty, LAK (SAME)
9. Shea Weber, MTL (-2)
10. P.K. Subban, NSH (+1)
11. Justin Schultz, PIT (+1)
12. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (+1)
13. Zach Werenski, CBJ (+2)
14. Torey Krug, BOS (-4)
15. John Carlson, WSH (+2)
16. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (SAME)
17. Ryan Suter, MIN (-3)
18. Seth Jones, CBJ (+2)
19. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (+2)
20. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (+5)
21. Colton Parayko, STL (-3)
22. John Klingberg, DAL (-3)
23. Dion Phaneuf, OTT (-1)
24. Mark Giordano, CGY (SAME)
25. Keith Yandle, FLA (+2)
26. Jake Gardiner, TOR (SAME)
27. Nick Leddy, NYI (+3)
28. Matt Niskanen, WSH (-5)
29. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (-1)
30. Cam Fowler, ANA (-1)
31. Andrei Markov, MTL (+1)
32. Justin Faulk, CAR (+4)
33. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (+4)
34. Brent Seabrook, CHI (-3)
35. Oscar Klefbom, EDM (SAME)
36. Mark Streit, PIT (DTD)
37. Matt Dumba, MIN (+4)
38. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (-4)
39. Tyson Barrie, COL (-1)
40. Brady Skjei, NYR (-1)
41. Jaccob Slavin, CAR (NEW)
42. Jacob Trouba, WPG (DTD)
43. Sami Vatanen, ANA (+4)
44. Nikita Zaitsev, TOR (-2)
45. Dmitry Orlov, WSH (-1)
46. Ryan Ellis, NSH (-1)
47. Alec Martinez, LAK (+2)
48. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (-2)
49. Mike Green, DET (-1)
50. David Savard, CBJ (SAME)
Key injuries: Kris Letang (PIT), Aaron Ekblad (FLA), Trevor Daley (PIT), Tyler Myers (WPG)
READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings