Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Blue Line Buzz: Defensemen worth a look

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

(All statistics through Saturday, December 14)

Beyond the Sea

Chicago is reeling from its thrashing at the hands of Toronto on Saturday evening and the team will have to get their act together if they're going to defend their Cup through the gauntlet that is the Western Conference. Despite Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Buds, albeit without Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks are still one of the most fruitful teams in Fantasy hockey, notably their top defensive pairing of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, both of whom will likely be on their way to eastern Russia in February as part of Team Canada's stalwart defensive corps.

Seabrook has been even more of a value to owners this season in leagues that reward secondary statistics such as plus-minus, hits and blocked shots. It doesn't hurt that Seabrook has six points over the last five games as well. With 22 points on the season, he's one of the league's top scoring defensemen and among the defensive leaders in hits with 86. Seabrook's talent and reliability is no secret to Fantasy owners and it's going to take a bit to pry him from the clutches of an owner who is no doubt satisfied for burning a middle round pick on him. If you're looking for all-around production, Seabrook is the top of the second tier of blue liners. Playing with a resurgent Keith doesn't hurt either.

While Seabrook is a known and valued commodity, these players can be looked at in deeper leagues as cheap options who can contribute.

Niklas Hjalmarsson, Blackhawks: Noted as one of the league's steadier stay-at-home defenders in Chicacgo's system, Hjalmarsson has been quietly productive at the offensive end of the rink with 14 points through 35 games and a plus-12 to boot. His 68 blocked shots won't hurt you either, just don't expect power play production from the veteran Swede, as none of his 14 points have come on the man advantage. He's more than on his way to surpassing his career-best of 17 points from Chicago's 2009-10 Cup-winning season. He has just one assist in the last six games and has scattered his 14 points over the course of the year. Don't expect huge numbers, but Hjalmarsson is in a great situation to challenge 30 points on one of the league's more prolific teams while contributing in secondary categories.

Radko Gudas, Lightning: Seven points through 27 games aren't appealing in standard leagues - in fact they don't even register. 70 PIM and 109 hits will change people's minds in deeper leagues that reward secondary statistics. He's a bruising hitter and one of the league's up-and-coming defensive blue liners and seeing more ice time in the wake of Victor Hedman's injury. Gudas could challenge 20 points this season, but the guarantee of him delivering hits and penalty minutes should be enough to make up for the fact that he won't score at a prolific pace.

Cody Franson, Maple Leafs: It's no secret that the Leafs count hits rather liberally while at the Air Canada Centre, to the point where the San Jose broadcasters joked at the 56 hits the Buds had in a 3-2 loss to the Sharks two weeks ago. It's not Radko Gudas or Niklas Kronwall, but Franson who is leading all NHL defensemen in hits with 100. His 15 points on the season are a nice boost as well on the mercurial Leafs, but you have to wonder how many of these "hits" are legitimate hits. Regardless, Franson's going to deliver in the hits category, but owners would like to see more offensive production from him, as he has a modest one point in the last five games, failing to register a point when the Buds scored seven goals on Saturday.

Factor in 51 blocked shots through 32 games and the fact that 12 of Franson's 15 points have come on the man-advantage and you have a defender who delivers across the board. While he might not be the next Rob Blake, although the hits numbers belie this, Franson is a viable albeit streaky option. He has more points and hits than teammate and lightning rod Dion Phaneuf, a player known for lowering the boom occasionally.

It's also worth noting that Toronto's Carl Gunnarsson and Paul Ranger are among the top 30 players in hits among blue liners. If you're in need of a hits boost in daily leagues, don't be shy about rolling some Leafs players while they're at home. Morgan Rielly and John-Michael Liles were credited with 11 hits between them in Saturday's win over Chicago.

Jan Hejda, Avalanche: The Avs are still contending for a playoff spot and their top pairing of Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda is one of the surprises of hockey with a combined plus-35, each of them clocking in at one and two among NHL defensemen in that category. Hejda has nine points to go with 72 hits. Those nine points through 27 games have him on pace to challenge his career-best of 21 from the 2008-09 season when he was with Columbus. He's delivering in both hits and blocked shots (49) although none of his nine points have come on the power play. It's clear that the presence of Patrick Roy and goalie coach Francois Allaire have boosted the Avalanche's goaltending and their ability to defend; Hejda and Johnson have been huge beneficiaries of these coaching moves.

Hejda has value in deeper rotisserie leagues that reward secondary statistics. He doesn't shoot much and is not the most adept of puck-movers, but he's seeing plenty of ice time with the Avs and will chip in occasionally with an assist or two. He's not going to light up the league, but he has enough production in lesser categories where his lack of scoring won't hurt too much.

Andrew MacDonald, Islanders: His 12 points aren't going to win you a league and the minus-9 is a red flag, but he has 113 blocked shots and four points on the power play. Someone has to produce from the blue line for the Islanders and MacDonald appears to be that man. His 12 points lead Travis Hamonic by six for the team's lead and the 113 blocked shots are tops among NHL blue liners.  Unless your league rewards blocked shots, MacDonald appears to be a liability thanks to his plus-minus. He has one point in the last five games, but the Isles were shut out twice in that span. In deep leagues, defenders who produce on the power play are difficult to obtain once the season has begun. Whether MacDonald is worth adding to your roster is a choice to be weighed and analyzed based on who else is available. He's seen a huge bump in power-play time, a power play that features one of the league's leading scorers in John Tavares. Caveat Emptor.

Checking Up On ...

Dylan Olsen, Panthers: The former Chicago draft pick is still producing in South Florida, as he is riding a five-game points streak with three goals and assists over that span. These kind of numbers are going to correct themselves soon, but Olsen is seeing scoring chances on a team that has difficulty generating consistent offense. Olsen hasn't been a big scorer during his career, but he seems to be finding a niche with the Kitties. Keep in mind he doesn't see much power play time, getting time on the man advantage in just three of his nine games this season. Still, seven points through nine games.

Eric Gelinas, Devils: He's still producing for the Devils and his 13 points in 25 games have him trailing only Boston's Torey Krug for points among rookie blueliners. Gelinas grabbed an assist in Saturday's win over Tampa Bay and has three points over the last seven tilts. He's slowed a bit, but he's still on pace for a solid rookie season while seeing power-play time on the Devils' second unit. Since his call-up, Gelinas has not gone more than three games without a point.

Seth Jones, Predators: Nashville isn't going to be an offensive force this season, but that isn't much of a variation to the norm in Hockey Tonk. Jones has seen his ice time fall in the last week, being moved off the top pairing with Shea Weber, playing barely over 47 minutes total over the last four games. He'd been averaging close to 24 minutes a night before this recent demotion, a demotion that has seen him log no power play time in the last three games.

He has just one assist in the last 11 games and 10 points on the season. Ebbs such as the one Jones is currently experiencing are not unexpected from rookie defenders. If there's a coach who knows how to handle defensemen, it's Nashville's Barry Trotz. Look for Jones to be back in the fold soon, but it's still pretty impressive for a 19-year old learning to play defense in the NHL, despite the recent slide.

Question of the Week: Which country, other than Canada, will boast the strongest blue line in Sochi?

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Cam Talbot
Rangers' Talbot Silences Flyers
Cam Talbot, G, NYR
11/29/2014
News: Cam Talbot stopped all 26 shots he faced to blank the Flyers on Friday.
Analysis: That gives Cam Talbot back-to-back shutouts against the Flyers, who failed to get one by the netminder when the two teams met last week. Despite his extraordinary success against Philadelphia, coach Alain Vigneault will resist the temptation to go back to him in Saturday's rematch, as Henrik Lundqvist has already been announced as that game's starter. In any case, the back-to-back positive turns amount to a nice confidence boost for Talbot, who had mostly struggled in his other outings this season.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks To Start Andersen On Friday
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
11/29/2014
News: Frederik Andersen led the Ducks on to the ice and will make the start in goal Friday versus the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Frederik Andersen has reeled off three straight wins on the heels of a five-game losing streak, but he'll face a stiff test at home against Chicago. Friday's game will mark the first of a back-to-back set for the Ducks, so it's possible coach Bruce Boudreau will turn to backup Jason LaBarbera on Saturday.

Jesse Blacker
Ducks Recall Prospect Blacker
Jesse Blacker, D, ANA
11/29/2014
News: Jesse Blacker was recalled from AHL Norfolk on Friday, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Clayton Stoner was officially diagnosed with the mumps virus and ruled out of Friday's game against the Blackhawks, forcing the Ducks to bring up Jesse Blacker for his NHL debut. The 23-year-old, who is considered one of the organization's better blue line prospects, has four points in 14 games with Norfolk.

Clayton Stoner
Ducks' Stoner Has Mumps, Out Saturday
Clayton Stoner, D, ANA
11/29/2014
News: Clayton Stoner (illness) has been officially diagnosed with the mumps virus and will not play Friday against the Blackhawks, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Clayton Stoner practiced Thursday and seemed well on his way to returning to action, but apparently some late-emerging symptoms of the mumps will knock him out of action. The setback has to be concerning for the Ducks, who now might have to worry about further players potentially being infected by Stoner. Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin previously missed multiple games with the illness.

Mike Green
Caps' Green To Sit Again Friday
Mike Green, D, WAS
11/29/2014
News: Mike Green (upper body) will not play Friday against the Islanders, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports.
Analysis: Jack Hillen will spell him in the Capitals' lineup for the second straight game. It hasn't been reported that Mike Green has resumed skating since suffering the injury, so it's not clear when he might rejoin the lineup.

Johnny Boychuk
Isles' Boychuk Ruled Out Friday
Johnny Boychuk, D, NYI
11/29/2014
News: Johnny Boychuk will miss Friday's game against the Capitals with an upper-body injury.
Analysis: Johnny Boychuk had been missing practices recently with a suspected knee issue, so the fact that he'll sit out Friday with an upper-body injury comes as a surprise. The blueliner, who has been highly productive since coming over in a trade with the Bruins late in training camp, will be considered day-to-day for the time being. Brian Strait takes his spot in the lineup Friday.

Chad Johnson
Isles To Go With Johnson
Chad Johnson, G, NYI
11/29/2014
News: Chad Johnson will be in the crease Friday against the Capitals.
Analysis: Chad Johnson will spell the red-hot Jaroslav Halak in goal, but only because the Islanders are playing the first game of a back-to-back set. The move from Boston to Long Island hasn't proven overly kind for Johnson, despite the 5-2 record he carries into Friday's contest. His 3.33 GAA and .876 save percentage rank 38th and 42nd, respectively, among the 42 qualifying goaltenders.

Karri Ramo
Flames Start Ramo On Saturday
Karri Ramo, G, CGY
2:55 PM
News: Karri Ramo will start in net against the Coyotes on Saturday, Aaron Vickers of the Flames' official site reports.
Analysis: Karri Ramo continues to receive a fair amount of starts despite Jonas Hiller taking over the presumed starting role. He carries a 5-2-1 record with a .911 save percentage and 2.54 GAA with him into Saturday's matchup.

J.T. Miller
Rangers Recall Miller
J.T. Miller, C, NYR
2:40 PM
News: J.T. Miller was recalled from AHL Hartford on Friday.
Analysis: J.T. Miller will give the Rangers their 12th forward for Saturday's game following the news that Chris Kreider will miss the game due to the death of his grandfather. In three games with the Rangers this season, Miller has no points and a minus-four rating with seven shots on goal.

Chris Kreider
Rangers' Kreider Won't Play Saturday
Chris Kreider, LW, NYR
2:35 PM
News: Chris Kreider won't play Saturday due to the death of his grandfather, Jim Cerny of the Rangers' official site reports.
Analysis: Chris Kreider did play in Friday's game, recording an assist, but Saturday is a different story. The team also recalled J.T. Miller on Friday, who will likely replace him in the lineup.

 
 
 
Top Videos
Rankings