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The value of defensemen is a widely debated topic in fantasy hockey, a few people believe strongly in “big named” D, while some completely ignore it and depend solely on waiver wire pick ups throughout the season. My argument is that the difference in owning Niklas Lidstrom, Dion Phaneuf or Chris Pronger is quite apparent when compared to just owning waiver wire D. Let’s look at an extreme example, Team A owns, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Semin along with Alex Edler, Paul Mara, and Roman Hamrlik. Team B owns, Dion Phaunef, Dan Boyle, and Shea Weber along with Jason Chimera, Mason Raymond and Alex Ponikarovsky.


 

 

In a basic Yahoo settings league the results would look like this.

 

 

Goals

Assists

+/-

PIMs

SOG

PPP

Team A

21

53

26

90

222

28

Team B

27

41

18

86

277

24

 

You have three superstar offensive players mixed in with three widely available D, compare that to three stud defensemen mixed in with three widely available forwards and you get fairly even results. Now imagine if you had a half decent offense along with those three D, you’re looking at it being more productive than a team that owns Crosby, Malkin and Semin! 

My point is very simple, offense is easily replaceable with the amount of depth that exists on the waiver wire. D however can’t be as easily replaced, especially an across-the-board D that will contribute in all six of the categories. 

Maasquito Buzzings…

-    29 of the league’s top 52 point getters were from the Western Conference.
-    Five of the top ten players that garnered the most time on ice were defensemen from the Western Conference.
-    Sammi Pahlsson is leading the Western Conference in faceoff wins with 177.
-    Olli Jokinen set the bar at six points scored last week, Ryan Clowe also tallied six points, while Lee Stempniak picked up five.
-    Ryan Clowe was ranked number one overall in Yahoo for last week, as he had a line of 4G, 2A, +4, 12 PIM and 13 shots on goal. At 66% owned in Yahoo league’s he’ll be disappearing faster than Big Macs at a fat man convention.
-    Shane Doan regains the lead in the Western Conference with 49 hits.
-    Kyle Wellwood is shooting at an astounding 40.0%, but he only has registered 15 shots on goal. Fabian Brunnstrom dropped down to 31.6%, while Brad Boyes slipped down to 26.7%.
-    Teemu Selanne continued his power-play goal dominance as he is now up to eight on the season. Keith Tkachuk remains steady at seven and Todd Bertuzzi remains to be a surprise at five power-play goals.
-    If you are looking for power-play points you might want to look towards the Calgary trio of Bertuzzi, Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf as they are averaging nearly six minutes of power-play time per game. Sergei Zubov returned this week, and will probably take some time away from Stephane Robidas. Ryan Smyth is collecting a surprising 5:43 on the power-play per contest as well.
-    Dion Phaneuf leads the Western Conference with 65 shots on goal, Corey Perry is sitting comfy in second with 64, and Patrick Marleau finishes the top three with 60.
-    A week after I drop a plug for Dorsett he gets sent to the minors… Brandon Prust leads the NHL with 61 penalty minutes, Sean Avery is trying to regain his PIMs crown as he’s sitting pretty in second with 58. Ian LaPerriere is also a solid option to own as he has averaged 130 PIMs for each of the past three seasons and also has 30 points upside this season. Make sure you keep an eye on him. 
-    Minnesota continues to be near perfect on the PK as they still are operating at 92.4%.
-    Chicago now claims the top spot in the Western Conference in five-on-five scoring ratio with a rating of 1.29. Calgary is the worst with a rating of 0.74, followed by Colorado at 0.76. What this stat might represent is the +/- for your players.
-    Minnesota is tied with Toronto with a league-low of 11.2 minutes in penalties per contest. So don’t look for any big goons from the Minny line-up. Calgary is averaging the league high of 20.9, mostly due to Brandon Prust.

 

Around the West  

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Duncan Keith

27:51

2:06

Brian Campbell

25:51

4:56

Brent Seabrook

24:08

1:20

Cam Barker

18:26

2:37

Brent Sopel

14:51

0:04

Aaron Johnson

15:02

0:27

 

Keith and Campbell are the workhorses for the Blackhawks and receive the bulk of the power-play time. Barker is really beginning to gain some momentum as he’s picked up five points in five games so far this season after being recalled to the big club. It looks like he’s ready to take the next step in his development.  He’s also averaging two shots per game for those that have shots on goal as a stat in their leagues. I’d put Barker on the watch list as this might be the year he tops 40 points for the Hawks.  

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Fedor Tyutin

24:00

3:50

Rotislav Klesla

22:58

2:10

Mike Commodore

21:48

0:33

Jan Hedja

20:18

0:16

Christian Backman

17:46

5:20

Marc Methot

16:07

0:32

 

 

In Columbus, there aren’t any big names that really stand out. The D that you might want to keep an eye on is Backman. He’s only 1% owned in Yahoo leagues, but the recipe for success is in place there for him. He’s averaging over five minutes of power-play time per contest on a team that is only firing at 12% on the power-play. With the big guns of Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius, Derick Brassard, and Jakub Voracek the goals will come and Backman could see a huge spike in production.

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Niklas Lidstrom

25:25

3:37

Nik Kronwall

23:10

2:13

Brian Rafalski

22:19

3:26

Brad Stuart

20:59

0:10

Andreas Lilja

17:01

0:01

Brett Lebda

12:52

0:03

 

Lidstrom and Rafalski are the power-play quarterbacks for the offensive machine, with Kronwall getting a bit of power-play time on the side. Lidstrom’s plus/minus has not really been there this year which could be a bit of a worry, but still no reason to devalue him. Kronwall is 84% owned in Yahoo leagues, so he might still be available in a few leagues.   

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Shea Weber

24:18

5:29

Ryan Suter

24:06

4:48

Dan Hamhuis

21:50

2:17

Greg De Vries

20:23

0:27

Greg Zanon

18:22

0:08

Ville Koistinen

13:57

2:55

 

The Predators are largely dominated by Weber and Suter. The Predators offense isn’t as strong as many of the other teams in the NHL, so they’ll have to generate a lot of their offense from their blue line. That’s one explanation as to why Weber is operating at a point-per-game pace so far this season. Weber is definitely someone you should look towards acquiring, as he is just as across-the-board as the likes of Pronger, Chara, and Rafalski, but will a lesser name attached to him.

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Eric Brewer

25:21

2:01

Barrett Jackman

20:54

0:18

Roman Polak

18:17

1:12

Jay McKee

17:51

0:02

Steve Wagner

17:40

1:47

Alex Pietrangelo

16:06

2:40

 

 

The Blues utilize five forwards on the power-play which is why you see a diminished power-play time allocation to their defensemen. The Blues defensive corps has also only tallied 11 points as a group so far this season. With the likes of Brad Boyes, Andy McDonald, Keith Tkachuk, T.J. Oshie and Paul Kariya upfront for the Blues, the blue line won’t be very productive this season. None of the Blues D are worth owning at the moment.

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Dion Phaneuf

28:55

6:40

Robyn Regehr

21:54

0:40

Cory Sarich

18:23

0:25

James Vandermeer

17:35

0:20

Adrian Aucoin

15:59

4:16

Mark Giordano

13:41

3:19

 

 

It’s not that hard of a formula to work out for the Flames. Basically you only need to know two words, Dion Phaneuf. The kid’s a fantasy stud as he contributes to pretty much every category in fantasy hockey. The only blemish maybe is minus rating, but that’s not too big of a worry because he’s so far above the rest of the pack in the other categories that it’s only a small price to pay. Adrian Aucoin remains to be a solid option as he works with the second power-play unit, but there might be a few better options on the waiver wire than Aucoin at the moment.  

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

J.M. Liles

21:31

5:30

Brett Clark

20:58

2:03

Adam Foote

19:20

0:09

Ruslan Salei

19:14

2:21

Scott Hannan

19:13

0:00

Jordan Leopold

16:34

1:34

 

 

Liles is the main power-play quarterback in Avalanche country. He’s getting plenty of ice-time from Tony Granato and is certainly enjoying it. His seven points in 14 games leads all Avalanche defensemen and is nearing his career-high mark of 49 that he set three seasons ago. As you can see most of the even-strength ice-time is spread out between five defensemen, but the bulk of the power-play time goes to Liles and Salei. Clark picked up 21 points in 59 contests last season, but doesn’t look like he’ll get the time to produce at that rate this season. Leopold is the surprise as he has six points, while averaging the least amount of total ice-time for the Avs. Keep an eye on him if he starts picking up more ice-time he could be in for a 35-40 points season.