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
2015 Draft Prep Guide
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: Players to watch

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

(all statistics through Saturday, Jan. 4)

Happy New Year!

The last few days were huge for defensemen that you'd expect to produce, only seeing them produce quite a bit more than owners are used to.

Rich Getting Richer

Chicago's Duncan Keith, still leading all defensemen in scoring (3-39-42), grabbed three assists in Friday's rout over New Jersey, giving him nine assists over the last four games. Who cares if he has played most of the season with just one goal before exploding in December? Keith is enjoying life with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, both of whom have been on an absolute tear the last two weeks, with Sharp notching his second hat trick in five games on Friday. The 14 goals Keith scored in 2010 are long gone, but he's emerging as a more productive Ryan Suter in terms of dishing the puck incredibly, as he is currently tied with Sidney Crosby for second in the league with 39 assists.

Speaking of Ryan Suter, it's not often you get hat tricks from defensemen. Let alone hat tricks from defensemen who average around five goals a season. Suter had himself a game on Saturday, bagging three goals in Minnesota's win over Washington. Suter has five goals in the last four games and is currently riding a wave of points that have seen him notch at least one point in all but one of the last 12 games.

Suter was, unsurprisingly, named to Team USA for the Sochi Winter Olympics where he likely will never be allowed to leave the ice. Suter's an elite defender, maybe one of the top two or three all-around defenders in the NHL, but this kind of production offensively has been a boon to an already solid season. Suter is well on pace to crack the elusive 50-point barrier, something he has never done in his career; a career that has seen him be one of the league's steadiest blue line scorers who didn't boast gaudy goal totals.

While Suter is the lynchpin of Team USA's blue line, it's the player directly behind him in the league's defensemen scoring race that generated much discussion this past week: Phoenix's Keith Yandle.

Yandle was one of several notable point-producers left off Team USA's roster, due to concerns about his overall defensive game, as noted in the revealing piece by ESPN writer Scott Burnside detailing the, at times salacious, selection of Team USA's roster. Yandle has 28 points in 44 games with six in the last four tilts. Fantasy owners will know he has a penchant to disappear for several games at a time, but you have to be a bit surprised that his freewheeling style of play wouldn't be welcomed on the Olympic ice. He's an experienced puck mover, a skill crucial to sparking the attack. It was the perceived slights of the game in his own zone that brought his roster spot into question, although there's something to be said when Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi, a man very familiar with Yandle's style of play, notes that Yandle scares the Kings' coaches.

Yandle wasn't the only snub near the top of the blue line scoring list, as Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien, currently fourth with 32 points, five in his last four, was left off the American roster. Byfuglien's omission can be more understandable than Yandle's, but few blue liners fire the puck like Byfuglien. In a tournament where special teams will be at a premium, Byfuglien could have been a boost. However, it appeared to be concerns about what else he brings to the ice than just his ability to score.

Get Thee to Albany

While the Devils have been one of the league's most enigmatic teams, they have been a surprisingly solid source of defensive scoring this season thanks to the reemergence of Andy Greene, mercurial performances of Marek Zidlicky and the establishing of rookie Eric Gelinas as players to watch. However, the team also has a bevvy of veterans getting healthy on the blue line and needed roster spots to put the likes of Anton Volchenkov and captain Bryce Salvador. Gelinas is one of two players on defense who could be sent down to the AHL without passing through waivers, and suffered that fate on Saturday when Volchenkov returned to the lineup.

Gelinas had 16 points in 33 games with 10 of those points coming on the power play. He had looked vulnerable and hesitant in his own zone the last two weeks and began pressing, as noted by coach Peter DeBoer, who also acknowledged that Gelinas brings elements of the game that can't be duplicated in terms of his powerful slap shot and skating ability. Odds are, this will be a short stint in Albany for the promising blue liner. Don't cut bait on him entirely if you have a spot on your roster.

Lightning Developing?

Mark Barberio is a name owners of dynasty leagues and keeper leagues have been aware of for the last two seasons. A major part of Norfolk's AHL Calder Cup win in the 2012 season, he hasn't quite found his stride in the NHL, being a healthy scratch on several occasions this season. He has a modest four assists over 28 games, two of which have come in the Bolts' last two contests. He's seeing little power play time (24 seconds per-game over the season) and is entrenched on the team's third defensive pair. He's definitely worth keeping an eye on considering how productive he was at the AHL and junior level with The Q's Moncton, but he has underwhelmed in his first full NHL season. Until he starts earning more ice time and establishing himself further as a presence, he's still a long-term keeper prospect at best. Don't forget about him entirely, just don't run out a grab him.

It's An Island Life For Me

The Islanders have been proving to be a difficult squad to play against of late, even if they're not winning every game. They topped Chicago on Thursday and stormed back against Boston on New Year's Eve for a 5-4 win. John Tavares is one of the league's best players and Kyle Okposo is finally emerging as the offensive force the Islanders hoped he would be when they drafted him years ago. Very quietly, though Andrew MacDonald is proving to be worth a look in deeper leagues, although he's not an ideal pickup.

He has six assists over the last four games and points in all four of those contests while living on the Islanders' top power-play unit. One needs to pause for concern though when examining the shot totals of MacDonald; he grabbed three shots and a helper in Saturday's loss to Carolina, but in the five previous games, MacDonald put just one puck on net. Plenty of defenders have been productive without shooting much (Brian Rafalski, Paul Martin, earlier incarnations of Ryan Suter), but this line from MacDonald might not spell continued production. In one of those games MacDonald failed to put a shot on goal, he saw 7:08 of power play time and 4:24 the previous game. In fact, he had five assists in the three games before Saturday without putting a puck on net, two of which came on the power play. The helpers will still come, as he seems to be the only game in town on the power play, but the old axiom of following the shots will not apply with MacDonald. Caveat Emptor.

Opportunity Bruin

With steady veteran Dennis Seidenberg out of the season, Johnny Boychuk is stepping up to a larger role on one of the Eastern Conference's top teams with five points over the last eight games. He's never been a big scorer in his career, but owners looking to add a player in deeper leagues could do worse than a Bruin who won't hurt your plus-minus too much. He's seen a slight uptick in power play time, with 2:07 in Tuesday's loss to the Islanders, but little to none in the last two weeks.

He's Back (For Now At Least)

Nashville rookie Seth Jones has turned heads as one of the more impressive 19-year olds to play in the NHL in a while, if you believe what Nashville GM David Poile said in Burnside's ESPN piece. While it was a consensus that Jones will be an Olympian in the future, it wasn't to be this season, especially with how his ice time dwindled in December. Owners or prospective owners will want to notice that Jones played 23:26 in Saturday's shootout loss to Florida. He played just 20 seconds on the power play but saw over 2:20 on the penalty kill; most young defenders have those numbers reversed.

Jones scored in Saturday's loss and has seen his name on the scoresheet often of late, with five points in the last four games. More importantly, his ice time has shot up from the single digit totals he'd been seeing earlier in the month. Expect more ebbs and flows from the utterly skilled youngster, but he's going to be an elite player.

Question of the Week: Who was the biggest Olympic snub, for any country?

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
Corey Crawford
Blackhawks' Crawford To Start Game 1 Versus Wild
Corey Crawford, G, CHI
11:20 AM
News: Corey Crawford will start Game 1 of the Blackhawks' second-round series against the Wild, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: Corey Crawford was benched for Games 3-6 during Chicago's first-round series win over the Predators, but relieved rookie teammate Scott Darling nicely in Game 6, stopping all 13 shots he faced after coming in during the first period. As a result, the more experienced Crawford will get an opportunity to reclaim his starting goaltender position in the Blackhawks' upcoming series against the Wild, who Crawford has helped Chicago eliminate from the playoffs in two straight seasons.

Kevin Klein
Rangers' Klein Poised To Return
Kevin Klein, D, NYR
10:12 AM
News: Kevin Klein (arm) said that he is ready to go in advance of the second round of the NHL playoffs.
Analysis: The Rangers still list Kevin Klein on IR, but in the absence of any setbacks, he'll be activated before Game 1 of the team's second-round playoff series, against an opponent that has yet to be determined.

Mats Zuccarello
Rangers' Zuccarello Sidelined
Mats Zuccarello, RW, NYR
10:07 AM
News: Mats Zuccarello is out indefinitely due to an upper-body injury, according to NHL.com's Dan Rosen.
Analysis: Mats Zuccarello was among the Rangers not on the ice for Monday's optional practice, with the forward's playing status for the second round of the playoffs looking murky at this stage.

Ben Bishop
Lightning Stay With Bishop For Game 6
Ben Bishop, G, TB
9:47 AM
News: Ben Bishop is slated to start Monday's Game 6 against the Red Wings, NHL.com's Bryan Burns reports.
Analysis: No real surprise here, as Ben Bishop has been the only Tampa Bay goalie to see postseason action through the first five games of the team's opening-round seres. In that span, Bishop has allowed 11 goals on 111 shots, en route to recording a 2.21 GAA and .901 save percentage.

Petr Mrazek
Wings Stick With Mrazek
Petr Mrazek, G, DET
9:40 AM
News: Petr Mrazek is slated to start Monday's Game 6 against the Lightning.
Analysis: Petr Mrazek, who has manned the Detroit net for all but one period through the first five games of the series, heads into Monday's home tilt having limited the high-powered Lightning to nine goals on 143 shot attempts in that span.

Calvin de Haan
Isles' De Haan Likely Out Monday
Calvin de Haan, D, NYI
9:28 AM
News: De Haan (shoulder) was not on the ice for Monday's morning skate, Newsday's Arthur Staple reports.
Analysis: While the Isles' Game 7 lineup has yet to be confirmed, at this stage it looks as though the team will continue to be without Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic and Lubomir Visnovsky for the contest.

Curtis Glencross
Caps' Glencross Set To Rejoin Lineup
Curtis Glencross, LW, WAS
9:20 AM
News: Curtis Glencross is slated to suit up for Monday's Game 7 against the Islanders, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports.
Analysis: With Curtis Glencross, who has yet to record a point in three postseason contests, poised to re-join the Caps' lineup Monday, Michael Latta is candidate to be scratched for the contest.

Braden Holtby
Caps' Roll With Holtby In Game 7
Braden Holtby, G, WAS
9:02 AM
News: Braden Holtby is slated to square off against Jaroslav Halak in Monday's Game 7 against the Islanders, NESN.com reports.
Analysis: Through the first six games of the series, five of which he has started, Braden Holtby has turned in a nifty .945 save percentage, to go along with a 1.75 GAA. Per Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post, Philipp Grubauer is slated to continue to serve as Holtby's backup on Monday, with Justin Peters on track to be among the Caps' Game 7 scratches.

Jaroslav Halak
Isles' Halak In Net For Game 7
Jaroslav Halak, G, NYI
8:18 AM
News: Jaroslav Halak will start in net for Monday's Game 7 matchup against the Capitals.
Analysis: Jaroslav Halak has started every game in the series, so it's no surprise he'll be in net once again Monday with the series on the line. It's win or go home for Halak and the Isles, and he'll look to follow up a strong performance in Game 6 with another one in Game 7.

Alex Pietrangelo
Blues' Pietrangelo Picks Up Assist In Game 6 Loss
Alex Pietrangelo, D, STL
6:27 AM
News: Alex Pietrangelo had an assist in Sunday's series-ending loss to the Wild. He took five shots and had two blocked shots.
Analysis: Alex Pietrangelo was solid throughout the series despite the Blues loss, registering an increasing amount of ice time as the games wore on, culminating in him seeing 31:12 seconds in the final game. The Blues may be in a shake up in the off-season after another early playoff exit, but it's tough to see Pietrangelo going anywhere. The 24-year-old is an all around rock for the Blues on the bullion.

 
 
 
Top Videos
Rankings