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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.

 

 

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Lubomir Visnovsky

25:16

5:10

Sheldon Souray

24:53

4:55

Tom Gilbert

20:32

2:07

Denis Grebeshkov

19:43

2:02

Steve Staios

19:04

0:15

Jason Strudwick

14:39

0:01

 

 

Visnovsky and Souray dominate the ice-time for the Oilers. Both are nearly averaging five minutes on the power-play and 25 minutes of ice-time each contest. Both D are also good for penalty minutes as well as shots on goal with out a big hit to the plus/minus category. Vizzy and Souray should be owned in most if not all fantasy leagues. Gilbert is the surprise factor as he has seven points in 14 contests this season. The Oilers have a very well balanced team as they have had 14 different goal scorers this season, which means that Gilbert will be able to pick up random points here or there just from random goals. He’s only 5% owned in Yahoo leagues, but if you are in a deep league and is scrounging for D, you might want to consider Gilbert.

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Kim Johnsson

24:59

2:45

Brent Burns

23:06

4:51

Nick Schultz

21:12

0:02

Marek Zidlicky

20:29

3:21

Martin Skoula

19:09

0:07

M.A. Bergeron

16:34

3:51

 

Minny’s D are all over the shop. Johnsson leads the team in ice-time but doesn’t have that big of a role on the power-play. Burns has been sidelined with various injuries and has not really found a groove this season. Zidlicky just returned to action, so it’ll take him a few more weeks to get back into mid-season form. Bergeron is largely considered to be a one-trick pony.  I think the D that you need to keep an eye on is Zidlicky. He’s only 44% owned in Yahoo leagues, mostly due to the fact that he missed the first few weeks of the season due to injury. Zidlicky is only three years removed from being a 49 point scorer, so he definitely has the talent to succeed, only problem is will playing for the defensive minded Wild stifle his point production?

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Kevin Bieksa

24:24

5:05

Alex Edler

22:10

4:25

Willie Mitchell

21:33

0:17

Mattias Ohlund

20:41

3:21

Sami Salo

19:44

3:31

Shane O’Brien

14:42

0:12

 

 

Vancouver is also all over the shop as well. The Canucks are ranked fourth overall for the total number of power-play opportunities given and have experimented with all of their defensemen to see who best fits the role. Bieksa seems to have taken the lead in that race as he has picked up 11 points in 12 contests. He spent most of last season recovering from a freak accident that sidelined him for most of the season. He looks like he’s returned back to 100% form and is ready to improve upon the 42 point season that he had two seasons ago. His 75% owned in Yahoo leagues is certainly surprisingly low, as Bieksa is a great across-the-board D to own. Ohlund and Salo always seems to get time, but always seems to managed to let fantasy owners down some way some how. 

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Scott Niedermayer

26:17

4:06

Francois Beauchemin

26:03

2:25

Chris Pronger

25:22

4:33

Kent Huskins

17:37

1:01

Bret Hedican

14:54

0:05

Steve Montador

12:30

0:08

 

 

The Ducks seem to enjoy a roller coaster season. They have had some brilliant outings, and they have had some really ugly outings. One thing remains to be the same, Neidermayer, Beauchemin and Pronger will continue to get plenty of ice-time for the Ducks. I’ve been harping about Beauchemin for a number of weeks now, and he is ready to bust out. He’s getting more ice-time than Pronger, and is quarterbacking the Ducks second unit. Neidermayer and Pronger continue to be fantasy hockey beasts as they have combined for a total of 24 points, 80 shots on goal, and 38 penalty minutes in 17 games for the Ducks this season. Niedermayer and Pronger will finish in the top 10 for fantasy defensemen production this season, so make sure you hang on to them if you own them, or make a strong push to acquire them while their value is at the lowest at the moment.

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Stephane Robidas

24:06

5:01

Sergei Zubov

22:45

5:41

Philippe Boucher

21:46

2:01

Trevor Daly

21:22

1:27

Nick Grossman

17:58

0:05

Matt Niskanen

17:13

1:42

 

 

The Stars blue line corps will look quite a bit different in a few weeks time, once they make a few adjustments. Zubov returned after recovering from off-season hip surgery that sidelined him for all the early part of this season. He might be the main reason why Marty Turco struggled so much in the early part of this season. Since his return, Turco has only allowed three goals in two contests, compared to 51 goals in the first 12. Zubov should take over as the main power-play quarterback and help kick start the Stars’ 14.9% power-play into gear. He’s only 81% owned in Yahoo leagues, and that number will rise to near the 100% mark by the end of the season. If he’s still available on the waiver wire pick him up. Zubov’s return will greatly affect Robidas’ fantasy value. Robidas pretty much was the go-to guy while Zubov was hurt, with Zubov’s return you can kiss the 24:06 and 5:01 numbers goodbye. You can probably still keep him on your roster, but as the season progresses and new breakouts appear, you may want to consider dropping Robidas later on.

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Kyle Quincey

22:50

3:37

Drew Doughty

21:56

4:28

Sean O’Donnell

21:20

0:20

Matt Greene

18:51

0:04

Tom Preissing

17:54

4:45

Denis Gauthier

15:36

0:05

 

 

The young blue-line corps of the Kings are holding the fort nicely even without the young budding star Jack Johnson in the lineup. The acquisition of Kyle Quincey has really helped solidify the D for the Kings. The power-play duties have been split between Preissing and Doughty with a smidgen of Quincey dashed in there somewhere. They still lack a true power-play quarterback, but I’d expect Quincey to assume that role by the end of the season. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I potentially see Quincey having a mini Mike Green-like season this year once the offense sorts themselves out. He’s only owned in 2% of Yahoo leagues, so if you are looking for a gamble, look at Quincey.

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Ed Jovanovski

23:26

4:18

Zbynek Michalek

22:18

0:14

Kurt Sauer

20:31

0:08

Derek Morris

19:48

1:16

Keith Yandle

14:54

1:55

David Hale

14:24

0:07

 

 

If you haven’t read Status’ column on JovoCop , do so! It explains a lot of what I’m about to say in greater detail. He’s only 66% owned in Yahoo leagues, and that’s an alarming surprise given his history. Reasons why he should be picked up, 1) He picked up 50 points last season, with a less talented Coyotes team. 2) He’s averaging three shots per contest, they’re bound to go in some time. He has a career 6.3% shooting percentage, if he continues at a three shots per contest rate that should translate to 15 goals. 3) He’s averaged 65 penalty minutes per season over the last four seasons. 4) He’s averaging 4:18 minutes on the power-play per contest. 5) Are you really going to expect Keith Yandle and Zbynek Michalek to outscore Jovo? The other surprise D that might stand out is Yandle. He’s on his way to cementing his spot on the Coyotes blue line permanently as he now has six points in nine contests for the Coyotes this season and has continued to gain Wayne Gretzky’s confidence with each game. He’s probably not worth owning now, but keep an eye on the youngster as he might be due for a large increase in ice-time which usually equates to more production fairly soon.
 

 

 

Name

TOI per contest

PP TOI per contest

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

24:18

3:52

Dan Boyle

23:53

5:24

Rob Blake

21:56

3:37

Christian Ehrhoff

20:20

2:31

Brad Lukowich

15:48

0:06

Doug Murray

15:12

0:02

 

 

Whoa...did you read that right? Yes M.E. Vlasic actually gets more ice-time than Boyle and Blake, which is what makes him a solid pickup for your blue-line. Vlasic has eight points in 16 contests for the Sharks and should continue to pick up the minutes pairing up with Boyle on the blue-line on even strength. Ehrhoff continues to be a surprise with 12 points for the Sharks, but I wouldn’t expect him to keep it up as his career-high has only been 33 points. Blake is on pace for 41 points, which isn’t too bad if you managed to pick him up on the waiver wire for free. He’s not getting power-play time on the Shark’s top unit, which is why you see Boyle’s totals much better than his. If the Shark’s decide to unite Blake with Boyle on the top power-play unit, I’d watch out.   
 

 

If you still don’t trust me from the example up top, take a look at example number two,

Team A: Heatley(100%), Iginla(100%), Zetterberg(100%), Kronwall(84%), Doughty(9%), Ference(15%)

Team B: Weight(13%), White(17%), Hagman(30%), Pronger(99%), Markov(99%), Green(99%)

 

 

 

Goals

Assists

+/-

PIMs

SOG

PPP

Team A

29

35

13

87

201

34

Team B

22

55

22

56

238

36

 

 

Once again not much of a difference between the two teams, but imagine if you threw in better offensive players to Team B, the numbers would probably be skewed a lot more towards the stronger D side than the stronger O side. Try this as an exercise. Compare your team with the team that’s leading your fantasy pool. Add your top four offensive players plus your defensemen in your league’s settings, and compare them to the leaders. How many categories are you losing to the league leader? Is his D better than yours? Many battles will be won and lost because of D, are you going to be on the winning end or the losing end?  


Next week - Western Conference wingers.

 


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