Part 2 of 4. Over the next few weeks, I’ll attempt to give you the Eastern Conference low-down on fantasy players broken down by position and team (similar to my Western counter-parts “Fantasy Indicators of Success” series). Last week we looked at goaltenders, this week I’ll cover the defensemen of the Eastern Conference. Statistics include Tuesday night’s games.
I think most people would agree that ice time equals opportunity. Now not all Time On the Ice (TOI) is equal. Players who spend more time on the power play have an advantage. Power Play Time On the Ice (PPTOI) is probably the most important indicator of a defenseman’s chances of scoring points.
|Atlanta Thrashers||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Atlanta – Ron Hainsey is earning his large new contract by being the go to guy with the man advantage. As a rookie last year, Tobias Enstrom led the NHL in power play ice time. This season, while his average time on the ice is almost the same, his power play time has been cut in half. Matt Schneider has had trouble staying healthy, but he will score when healthy. Nathan Oystrick has produced given the limited power play ice time. He bears watching. Big Boris Valabik is only useful for his penalty minutes.
|Boston Bruins||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Boston – Over the last five seasons, Zdeno Chara has been a very consistent fantasy producer.
Dennis Wideman is following up his career best 36 points with what looks to be an even better season. With Andew Ference likely out until January; look for Matt Hunwick to continue racking up points.
|Buffalo Sabres||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Buffalo – More than half of Jaroslav Spacek’s 15 points have come via the power play. Andrej Sekera came into this season touted as a potential sleeper pick. He’s shown enough for us to see that he has the talent, but he just needs more experience to produce decent fantasy numbers. Last year, Craig Rivet scored a career high 35 points, with 20 coming on the power play. Teppo Numminen still gets power play time, but he is on the wrong side of 40. Stay away unless you are desperate for offence from your defence.
|Carolina Hurricanes||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Carolina – Joni Pitkanen has had a turbulent career. He’s in his fifth NHL season and is on his third team. Pitkanen has averaged 44 points for every 82 games he’s played. Dennis Seidenberg is taking advantage of his power play opportunities, but I don’t trust him yet. Everyone’s favourite bust this season is Joe Corvo. He’s currently on pace for 30 points, but was expected to produce close to double that number. Corvo is still being given tons of power play time, so he still has time to generate some decent numbers if he gets hot over the second half of the season. Kaberle has just been activated from the injured reserve list, but my advice is to stay away. Unknown call-up Brett Carson has received some major minutes and even got an audition on the power play. Carson has 11 points in 23 AHL games this year, but there are too many offensive defensemen in front of him for him to produce this season.
|Florida Panthers||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Florida – Jay Bouwmeester is second in the NHL behind only Dion Phaneuf in ice time per game. Bryan Allen is third. Bouwmeester is on pace for a career high 49 points and has been a second half hottie in each of the last three seasons. Keith Ballard is not playing over his head offensively, look for him to continue at this pace. Bryan McCabe is scoring at a 50 point pace and still has room to step it up.
|Montreal Canadiens||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Montreal – Andrei Markov sits tied for third in defenseman points and receives heaps of ice time. As evidenced by the lack of significant power play ice time by another defenseman, the Canadiens often employ four forwards on their top power play unit. That pretty much makes the rest of Montreal’s defence a risky proposition in fantasy circles.
|New Jersey Devils||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
New Jersey – Long gone are the days of fantasy stud Scott Niedermayer manning the top power play unit for the Devils. Now we are left with Paul Martin? At least Oduya and White are getting points at even strength. Anssi Salmela hasn’t played since November 29. He just wasn’t producing and was taken off the top power play unit. Word is that Andy Greene is close to returning to practice. He is worth a flyer in larger pools.
|New York Islanders||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
New York Islanders – Mark Streit has been as advertised. He leads NHL defensemen in power play points and is tied with former power play partner Andrei Markov for third in defence scoring. Streit receives the third most power play ice time with and average of 5:55 per game. Don’t get sucked in to believing Andy Sutton’s ten points in 22 games is anything but dumb luck. His career high is 25 points in 76 games. With no power play time to speak of, he could easily finish with less than 20 points. Chris Campoli is having a poor season points-wise. I thought he had a chance to score 35-40 points this year. At least he’s being given some power play time. Jack Hillen is in the minors, learning to play with the big boys. He is one to keep an eye on and may be ready as early as next season.
|New York Rangers||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
New York Rangers – Statistically there isn’t a more balanced group of point producing defensemen in the Eastern Conference. The problem is that the top four point producing blueliners are all a minus. This isn’t a problem if your pool only counts points, but Rozsival’s minus-12 could really hurt in a roto-league. Redden has room to improve and could hit 50 if he picks it up over the second half. Dan Girardi just keeps getting better and better. Last year he had 28 points in 82 games and this season he is on pace for 36 points.
|Ottawa Senators||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Ottawa – The poster child for power play time equaling performance is Filip Kuba. He’s on pace for over 55 points and should easily eclipse his career high of 37 points. Phillips and Volchenkov finished last year plus-15 and plus-14 respectively. This season, they are minus-12 and minus-10 disrespectively [sic]. Alexandre Picard is on pace for 30 points. Brendan Bell is getting an opportunity to showcase his talents on the power play.
|Philadelphia Flyers||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Philadephia – Kimmo Timonen has averaged over 45 points over the last six seasons and is on pace for 55 points this year. That would tie his career high set two seasons ago. He gets 70 per cent of his points with the man advantage. Braydon Coburn has been playing on the first power play unit of late and is clearly winning the battle for the remaining power play point duties over Matt Carle. Luca Sbisa is getting mop up power play minutes.
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Pittsburgh – With Gonchar and Whitney out since the start of the season, the Pens really needed Letang and Goligoski to step up in their absence. The prevailing opinion seems to be that Goligoski has stepped up and Letang has disappointed. I don’t see it that way. Letang is only 21-years-old, whereas Goligoski is 23-years-old. I like what Goligoski has done, but let’s see what Letang does in a couple of years before labeling him a disappointment. Expectations may have been set a little high due to the untimely injuries to their top two offensive defensemen.
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Tampa Bay – Paul Ranger is on pace for around 27 points, which is roughly where he’s been for the last two seasons. I don’t expect anything over 30 points for Ranger this season. Andrej Meszaros has been a disappointment. After scoring 39, 35 and 36 points in his first three NHL seasons, most expected Meszaros to surpass the 40 point mark this year. The 23-year-old could still turn it around, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it happening this season. Steve Eminger is taking full advantage of his power play ice time. Half of his 12 points have come via the man advantage. He has ten points in 18 games (45 point pace) with Tampa. In his last two seasons in the OHL, Eminger had 87 points in 87 games. He was drafted 12th overall in the 2002 entry draft and could be a classic late bloomer.
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
|Mike Van Ryn||19:52||2:39||16||8||4|
Toronto – Kaberle and Kubina provide the Leafs with some offensive punch from the back end. Both have been mentioned in possible trade talks. Mike Van Ryn will continue to chip in offensively when he’s not banged up. Many of Ian White’s points have come while playing up front. Anton Stralman hasn’t played to his potential and is currently in the minors, but he will be back this season. His progress should be tracked.
|Washington Capitals||Avg TOI||Avg PPTOI||GP||PTS||PPP|
Washington – Two words; Mike Green. He will be a top three fantasy defenseman for years to come. Tom Poti is adequate, but is past his prime. Karl Alzner will be a top four NHL defenseman, but does not have the offensive ability to be a top fantasy defenseman. Don’t confuse the two. Sami Lepisto will be much more valuable in hockey pools. Last season, the 24-year-old Finn scored 45 points in only 55 AHL games. Once he is able to fully exploit his offensive abilities, he will be an important cog in a lethal Caps power play.