Oh no. Your D-men are going down left and right and you need replacements! Or your keeper league team is going down and it’s time to target the stars of the future! Your proven veteran has stopped scoring! Who you gonna call?

On the week of his call-up back in November, I mentioned that Shayne Gostisbehere might be a nice addition to your squad. That was back when Philly was terrible and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Now that they are planted firmly in mediocre territory, he and a few others are easily worth considering from a fantasy perspective. What’s rare about Gostisbehere – aside from the tricky name and the fact that I hear Unchained Melody in my head whenever I see his name – is that here we have a smallish, young defenseman who is basically expected to be a power play specialist, but he’s a +5 overall while scoring half of his points with the man advantage. (For the uninitiated, you don’t get a plus for being on the ice for a PP goal). He’s not exactly unheard of, but ownership is surprisingly still under 50% in Yahoo leagues. Run, don’t walk, for the offensive defenseman who can actually play decently in his own end.

Let’s take a look at who else can help out your squad heading into the second half:

Dougie Hamilton of the Flames is another young player who is extremely high on my keeper wish list, and he should be on yours, too. Sure, he had a slow start to the season, but is beginning to heat up. He’s a big, mobile two-way defenseman, and is getting first team power play minutes right now. The only real problem is that there is so much talent on the Calgary blue line that the opportunities get spread around a bunch. But he’s still in a perfect situation to succeed.

Newsflash: Victor Hedman is pretty darn good. But this first half, he’s played like a shell of his former self. But as the Bolts offense continues to improve, expect him to be a major part of the resurgence. I’d want in on that action if I were you. I know, I’m not you. But, if I was.

Shea Theodore, in his third callup by the Ducks, just might be on to something this time. The highly touted – and still only 20 year old – 2013 first round draft pick, has been inserted onto the first line power play and is currently riding a 4 game point streak, which includes two goals. His spot looks to be secure for at least the next month, while Cam Fowler remains sidelined. Oh, and he’s virtually unowned right now in fantasy. Go get him, folks. And, you’re welcome.

Well, here’s the thing about the Ducks’ Sami Vatanen right now. He appears to have lost the #1 PP gig to rookie Shea Theodore, at least for the moment. But the other thing is, that seems to have lit a fire under him as well. Vatanen’s got two point in the last three and has upped his shot total considerably. It’s not hard to see him regaining his role pretty quickly. He is owned in most leagues, but I wanted to mention this in tandem with Theodore so that no one goes and drops him. There’s room enough for both to produce.

Oh, you tease us so, Justin Schultz. I don’t buy it, but I’ve got to mention it. He’s recently shown signs of life with a 4-game point streak. Followed by 3 scoreless. Ugh. The real reason I mention it is because he’s worth keeping track of if he is traded and gets himself into a better situation. Although, now that I think of it, of all the things wrong with the Oilers, with the forwards they’ve got, you could probably put Schultzie’s grandma on the point for the power play and she’d double his point total. Yeah, I changed my mind. Forget I said anything, nothing to see here…

You can do worse than Seth Jones, who just went from being a small part of a great defensive corps in Nashville, to being an enormous part of the basically no-name Columbus Blue Jackets defense. His ice time has jumped a full five minutes, with an extra minute of PP time per game. He’s on 3-game point streak, and his peripherals are off the charts – in addition to points, Jones will give you Hits, Blocked Shots, and SOG. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Stop reading and go add this guy to your team already.

In Carolina, we’ve got a couple of young guns on D to talk about. First, Noah Hanifin, last year’s fifth overall pick, looks like he might be worth owning after all. He will probably continue to be inconsistent, but give the kid a break, eh? He’s only 18 and playing in the big leagues, and on the first team power play at that. He’s a keeper for sure, and could surprise down the stretch, so worth a flyer if you need to fill a spot or happen to be looking toward next season already. The other player worth taking a flyer on is Jacob Slavin, who has begun to see second team power play time and is making the most of it, with 4 points in his last 6 games. He doesn’t seem to be ticketed for a permanent offensive role, but stranger things have happened.

Nick Holden has quietly stepped into the first power play unit in Colorado and is producing consistently. Who knows if it will last, but he’s worth an add while it does.

Nick Leddy has recently become the default point man on the Isles top power play unit, and will keep that role at least for the next few weeks while Johnny Boychuk nurses an injury. Leddy seems to be half owned and half forgotten, but those with deep memory banks will recall last season’s 10 goal effort and add him. The uptick in offense may be temporary, but this is also the kind of situation that could turn around what has so far been a disappointment of a season for him.

P.K. Subban has been scoring a lot lately. This is your reminder not to trade him away, you just may get your money’s worth in the second half.

Colton Parayko is pretty well known at this point, but still unowned in plenty of leagues. This mention is because his teammate, Kevin Shattenkirk, is reportedly on the trade block these days. It’s rumor mill stuff, to be sure, but if Skattenkirk were moved, Parayko would be the prime beneficiary with a move from second to first team power play. He’s got 3 points in his last 4 contests, and is more than keeping pace with Shattenkirk, with fewer opportunities. So he’s worth owning either way, but adding him to your squad could pay off big time if a trade does happen.

All right, that’s the state of the D this time around. Stay tuned next week for a full column on All-Star Captain John Scott. Or should we save that one for April 1st? As always, thanks for reading!

  1. PancakeMaker says:
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    Any thoughts on Jaccob Slavin? Just took a flyer on him (dropping Jake Gardiner).

    • Matt

      Matt says:
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      @PancakeMaker: If he stays on the PP, he should be a slow and steady source of production for you but I doubt he’ll keep up this past week’s pace. Justin Faulk is still the top dog on the Carolina PP. Just keep an eye on Slavin’s minutes, and if you see that he’s been dropped from the man advantage you can safely drop him from your team.

  2. shayne robinson says:
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    Thanks for the post. In a keeper league, I was offered D. Larkin for Nugent-Hopkins. I’m close to placing in the top three so the loss of Hopkins is hurting my team but in a long term league I don’t want to rush into anything. What would you do. Thanks a lot.

    • Matt

      Matt says:
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      @shayne robinson: Oops. Thought I was replying here. See below…

  3. Matt

    Matt says:
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    Hey Shayne, thanks for reading. First, full disclosure — I’m a die-hard Oilers fan, have been all my life. So, with my bias out of the way, let me say this: EVEN S) — I would take Larkin for RNG in a heartbeat, given the injury. Without the injury, I’d probably think harder about it and would push to get a throw in of some kind added to the deal before I said yes, but I’d likely still do it. Larkin’s future is as bright, if not brighter than RNG’s – he’s just a couple years behind as far as big league experience.

    What about the McDavid factor, though (says the little devil on my shoulder)? Well, if RNG had any hope of playing on McDavid’s wing, then I would feel differently for sure. Instead, he will be the “#2 Center”, and if all goes well with McDavid’s development, that will be a highly coveted role (Think Messier behind Gretzky; Ron Francis behind Lemieux), but I’d still rather have Larkin, who I’d project as the go to guy on the Red Wings first line for a number of year. Larkin’s development reminds me of when Dany Heatley came into the league (another college player, btw) playing in the shadow of Kovalchuk, and surprised the hell out of everyone at how good he was. People knew he was “good” but expectations were relatively low, as they were with Larkin – and even though he’s a first round draft pick he still had his doubters; whereas RNG was a blue chip prospect all the way.

    Here’s the thing though. If you are hesitant – and you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be asking – then make him sweeten the deal before taking it. One of my unwritten trading rules (up there in importance with the rules on how to take care of Mogwai) is to never, ever say yes to the initial offer. He clearly thinks he’s getting a sweet deal even with the injury, so you have him right where you want him. This may backfire, but if you think you’ll make the playoffs without him, then I wouldn’t worry about that. I would look and see if there is a very minor player swap that can help you with some non-scoring stat (depending on your league set up), or a back up goalie you like, etc. Play the ‘I really don’t want to give this guy up’ card – talk about how his numbers will go up as soon as he and McDavid are BOTH healthy and that you’d need a bit more to let him go. See if he’ll sweeten the deal a bit.

    The exception to the above is: how well do you know the other owner? If this is a league of close friends, then that all may be moot. You may deduce that is his best offer right away and he’s just being up front about it. But if I don’t know the guy all that well, I would definitely see how badly he wants RNG.

    Okay, I’ve said too much. Bottom line, I’d take it. 🙂

  4. shayne robinson says:
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    Wow, that was an awesome response. Thank you very much. Greatly appreciated.

    I got him to throw in some Dmen as well..so advice taken 🙂

    • Matt

      Matt says:
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      @shayne robinson: That’s awesome, nice work. Now it’s up to Larkin to prove me right, ha!

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