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.
The quest for the fantasy playoffs began back in October. You drafted a team, worked the waiver wire and crafted a roster you felt could carry you past the competition in your league. If your team is still alive, you've lived through injuries and scoring droughts. You've likely had some good and bad luck along the way, but it all paid off once you qualified for the postseason.
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 100 FORWARDS | TOP 25 GOALIES | SCHEDULE GUIDE
But don't exhale just yet. In order to finish the job, you should be scouring the waiver wire, looking for patterns, hot streaks and statistical spikes that can help you win as many standard categories as possible.
With that in mind, here are a handful of players who are readily available in Yahoo leagues who can help in peripheral categories like plus/minus, PIMs, SOG and PPP.
Zdeno Chara (50 percent owned) of the Boston Bruins is not the elite fantasy defenseman he was for so long, but is proving to be a plus/minus specialist lately; he's a combined plus-9 in his past seven games. He's also offered support in other categories with five points, 11 SOG and nine PIMs in the span. Radko Gudas (29 percent owned) of the Philadelphia Flyers has also been a sneaky plus/minus source with a plus-9 over his past eight games. He has five points, nine SOG and 10 PIMs in the span.
If Gudas isn't available, look to Mark Borowiecki (17 percent owned) of the Ottawa Senators for help in leagues that count PIMs and/or hits. He recently missed four games, but has totaled eight PIMs, two SOG, 23 hits and six blocks in three games since returning. He leads the NHL in PIMs (134) and hits (311). If you'd rather add a forward for these specialties, Matt Martin (LW, 9 percent owned) of the Toronto Maple Leafs ranks tied for seventh in PIMs (97) and second in hits (264).
Arizona Coyotes rookie Jakob Chychrun (7 percent owned) was held without a shot in back-to-back games March 2-3, but has been stellar in the category ever since. He has totaled 23 SOG in nine games since March 5, tied for seventh among defensemen in the span. He carries greater value in keeper and dynasty formats, but should be easy to acquire in one-year leagues. Oscar Klefbom (40 percent owned) of the Edmonton Oilers and Brady Skjei (27 percent) of the New York Rangers can also help in SOG; Skjei has 21 SOG (T-12th among 'D') and Klefbom has 20 (T-14th) in the same span.
Video: DET@ARI: Chychrun pots long shot through traffic
PPP are a bit tougher to find these days, but here are two defensemen getting significant time with the man-advantage that could translate that usage to greater production down the stretch. Mark Streit (23 percent owned) of the Pittsburgh Penguins saw 3:30 on the power play in a 3-1 win at the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday and is averaging 2:01 minutes per game since being traded to Pittsburgh on March 1 with four PPP. Jake Muzzin (61 percent owned) of the Los Angeles Kings hasn't had a PPP in his past five games, but has two assists and 13 SOG with 2:51 per game on the power play in the span.
It's no secret Ivan Provorov (18 percent owned) of the Flyers is a commodity in keeper leagues. The main issue with owning him this season has been his streaky play as a rookie. The good news is he's riding a hot streak in time for the fantasy playoffs, providing sneaky category coverage. The 20-year-old had a three-point game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, and has totaled four points, one PPP, four PIMs, three hits, eight blocks and six SOG in his past four games. Provorov's rating (minus-11) is a concern, but he's a must-add player in a deep league that counts hits and/or blocks; he has 28 points, five PPP, 137 SOG, 98 hits and 146 blocks in 72 games.
Video: CAR@PHI: Provorov beats Ward with wicked wrister
The Minnesota Wild ended a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, but that stretch has taken a toll on two of their defensemen, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon. Suter, third in the League in ice time per game (27:07), has one point and is minus-2 in his past eight games. He does have eight PIMs and 21 SOG in the span, but he drops out of the top 20 defensemen this week as a result of his slide. Spurgeon has one point and is minus-4 in his past 12 games. Fantasy owners should be patient with Suter, but it would be a smart move to replace Spurgeon with Matt Dumba (59 percent owned; 136th in Yahoo). Dumba has five points (three goals, two assists), eight PIMs, two PPP and 16 SOG in his past seven games.
-- Aaron Ekblad (65 percent owned; 216th in Yahoo) returned for the Florida Panthers against the Hurricanes on Tuesday. He was held without a point and was minus-1, but added two SOG. Despite missing four games because of a concussion, he remains among the elite shot generators (225 SOG, 16th).
-- Tyson Barrie (60 percent owned; 363rd in Yahoo) has points in three straight games for the Colorado Avalanche and is tied for sixth at the position with eight points in 11 games since March 1. He has one PPP and 20 SOG in the span.
-- Ryan Ellis (44 percent owned; 186th in Yahoo) of the Nashville Predators has been chipping in across multiple categories over his past two games. He has four points (two goals, two assists), two PIMs, seven SOG and is plus-4 in the span.
Video: ARI@NSH: Ellis cranks home slapper for second of game
Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen
These rankings were last updated March 22
1. Erik Karlsson, OTT (+1)
2. Brent Burns, SJS (-1)
3. Victor Hedman, TBL (SAME)
4. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (SAME)
5. Roman Josi, NSH (+2)
6. Duncan Keith, CHI (SAME)
7. Kevin Shattenkirk, WSH (-2)
8. Shea Weber, MTL (+1)
9. Justin Schultz, PIT (+2)
10. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (+2)
11. Zach Werenski, CBJ (+2)
12. Drew Doughty, LAK (-4)
13. Torey Krug, BOS (+1)
14. P.K. Subban, NSH (-4)
15. John Carlson, WSH (SAME)
16. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (SAME)
17. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (+3)
18. Mark Giordano, CGY (+6)
19. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (SAME)
20. Seth Jones, CBJ (-2)
21. Colton Parayko, STL (SAME)
22. Ryan Suter, MIN (-5)
23. John Klingberg, DAL (-1)
24. Dion Phaneuf, OTT (-1)
25. Keith Yandle, FLA (SAME)
26. Nick Leddy, NYI (+1)
27. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (+2)
28. Matt Niskanen, WSH (SAME)
29. Cam Fowler, ANA (+1)
30. Andrei Markov, MTL (+1)
31. Jake Gardiner, TOR (-5)
32. Brent Seabrook, CHI (+2)
33. Oscar Klefbom, EDM (+2)
34. Matt Dumba, MIN (+3)
35. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (NR - INJ.)
36. Brady Skjei, NYR (+4)
37. Mark Streit, PIT (-1)
38. Tyson Barrie, COL (+1)
39. Justin Faulk, CAR (-7)
40. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (-7)
41. Jaccob Slavin, CAR (SAME)
42. Ryan Ellis, NSH (+4)
43. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (-5)
44. Nikita Zaitsev, TOR (SAME)
45. Zdeno Chara, BOS (NEW)
46. Dmitry Orlov, WSH (-1)
47. Mike Green, DET (+2)
48. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (DTD)
49. David Savard, CBJ (+1)
50. Morgan Rielly, TOR (NEW)
NR - INJ. - Not ranked last week because of injury
Dropped out: Alec Martinez (LAK), Sami Vatanen (ANA)
Key injuries: Kris Letang (PIT), Jacob Trouba (WPG), Trevor Daley (PIT), Tyler Myers (WPG)
READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings