With many fantasy leagues entering the final stages of the regular season, some managers might be clutching their keyboards and mousepads waiting to hop on that one waiver-wire gem that could turn their fortunes around. However, with only about four more weeks left in the fantasy hockey season, many fantasy managers have probably laid claim to the more valuable producers that flew under the radar during the early stages of this fantasy season.
For most managers, finding a forward that can put up tremendous offensive numbers might be considered a steal, but defensemen should not be disregarded after one has simply filled in their necessary defensive slots. Even though one might not find a premier defenseman to be available in their league’s free agent pool, there are certainly some options that are available and worthy of consideration for the stretch-run.
Here are some defensemen (less than 45% owned in Yahoo! formats, in order by percent owned) that can possibly be of some use in the coming weeks:
5.) Lubomir Visnovsky (New York Islanders – 41% Owned) – Visnovsky might not be available for the Islanders for part of this weekend’s matchups, but the Slovak defenseman has been putting up his fair share of points since arriving on Long Island. In twelve games, Visnovsky has managed to put up six points (1 goal, 5 assists), a +1 rating, fourteen PIM, and twenty shots on goal.
Visnovsky is an offensive-minded defenseman, so he might not sustain his positive +/- rating for much longer, but he can certainly be depended on for his point production, especially on the man-advantage. Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky have given the Islanders more-than-serviceable production when they have played this year, and fantasy managers should consider the latter player for pickup once he returns from dealing with personal matters.
4.) Dougie Hamilton (Boston Bruins – 37% Owned) – Dougie Hamilton has recorded twelve points for the Boston Bruins so far this season and has thrown 46 shots on goal as well. Fantasy managers might not have expected Hamilton to produce in the way that he has in his rookie season, but there is enough reason to notice the Bruins’ defender now, especially since he has registered four points in his last four games.
Four of Hamilton’s points (2 goals, 2 assists) have come on Boston’s powerplay this season. Considering the fact that the rookie defender doesn’t even average eighteen minutes of play a night, his point totals are all the more impressive. Among rookie defenders, only Justin Schultz has more points than Hamilton, but if Boston’s rookie rearback continues his current rate of production, then it might be safe to say that fantasy managers will be trying to learn how to do the “Dougie” instead of the Harlem Shake.
3.) Jay Bouwmeester (Calgary Flames – 35% Owned) – Bouwmeester is definitely experiencing a resurgence this season. He has already recorded half of the points that he had during his 2010-2011 campaign with the Calgary Flames. One-third of Bouwmeester’s points (4 assists) have come on the Flames’ power play this season and the defenseman’s four points in the last five games has certainly helped his fantasy value.
Fantasy managers are probably well aware of Bouwmeester’s availability in their fantasy leagues as the defenseman was probably glossed over in many fantasy drafts for obvious reasons. However, those that have been brave enough to take a chance on Jay-Bo this season have been well rewarded, and it wouldn’t hurt some more fantasy managers to give the veteran defender a chance in their starting lineups.
2.) Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers – 31% Owned) – Ryan McDonagh has registered four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in his last five games. More importantly, the Rangers’ defenseman might receive a slight uptick in playing time as long as Marc Staal is injured. The Rangers signed Roman Hamrlik after losing Staal to an unfortunate injury, but a little more reliance on McDonagh might just be a good thing for fantasy owners.
McDonagh is not known for scoring in droves, but he is a blue-collar defenseman that could help fantasy managers in deeper leagues, especially if in leagues with categories such as hits and blocked shots.
1.) Jonathan Ericsson (Detroit Red Wings – 5% Owned) – After the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings fans probably didn’t expect Jonathan Ericsson to step up in the way that he has over the course of this season. Over the course of twenty games, Ericsson has recorded ten points (2 goals, 8 assists) and put up a very respectable +5 rating for Detroit’s defensive core while receiving a fair amount of playing time.
Ericsson might not put up a bunch of goals on the scoreboard, but he is certainly capable of setting up his teammates, and at five percent owned in Yahoo! formats he is definitely an option to consider – especially for those in leagues where defensemen are at a premium.
More Rearbacks to Keep on the Radar
Roman Josi (Nashville Predators – 9% Owned) – Roman Josi has put up seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) so far this season, but he is still a very inconsistent player for the Predators and fantasy managers. Josi is certainly a work in progress, and fantasy managers should certainly keep a close eye on the young defender in case he starts to make fantasy waves this season.
Fedor Tyutin (Columbus Blue Jackets – 18% Owned) – Fedor Tyutin has impressed fantasy managers this season by recording twelve points (1 goal, 11 assists) in 23 games played, and should be added in deeper leagues if he is available. Tyutin’s +/- rating might not be the most attractive at the end of the fantasy season, but the defenseman is capable of putting up points, shots on goal, and using his body for some physical play including hits and blocked shots.
Jake Muzzin (Los Angeles Kings – 3% Owned) – Muzzin has raised eyebrows in fantasy circles as he has managed to score seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in 18 games for the Kings this season and isn’t afraid to shoot the puck on goal. Even though four of Muzzin’s seven points have come in the month of March, fantasy managers should keep a very close eye on the Los Angeles defender.
Jeff Petry (Edmonton Oilers – 6% Owned) – Much like Jake Muzzin, Jeff Petry has burst onto the fantasy scene as of late by scoring all five of his points (3 goals, 2 assists) during the Oilers’ last five games. Fantasy managers should wait to see what Petry can deliver in the long-term as he is given more responsibility on one of Edmonton’s defensive units.
Dan Girardi (New York Rangers – 42% Owned) – Girardi could have easily replaced Ryan McDonagh on the list above, and fantasy managers should not shy away from picking up the New York defender if he is available. Girardi currently has nine points (1 goal, 8 assists) during the 2012-2013 NHL season, but much like McDonagh, Girardi can contribute steadily in other categories such as hits and shots on goal.
** If anyone has any suggestions or defensemen that they think could have been excluded, feel free to leave a comment or response below!
In his third year with The Hockey Writers, Toli covers all things related to the New York Islanders. Focusing on the Islanders, the NHL Draft & draft-eligible prospect goalies, and hockey history, Toli can be contacted on Facebook by searching/messaging Toli Metter and on twitter by searching @ToliMetterTHW.