Real or Imagined: Western Conference Defensemen Part 1 (2016)

by Doran Libin on December 5, 2016 | (8 Comments)
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  • Real or Imagined: Western Conference Defensemen Part 1 (2016)

The second installment of the Real or Imagined series focuses on the defensemen of Anaheim, Arizona, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas and Edmonton.

 

For defensemen there are three big factors for this sort of evaluation: percentage of his team's available power-play time, shot rate and assist rate. The best fantasy defensemen make their living on the power play as it is where defensemen can really get involved offensively without much danger of getting hurt defensively. Just look at Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the Coyotes’ power play last year, getting more than 80% of the power play time and putting up 29 power play points on route to his first 50+ point season ever. Power play time separates the best defensemen from the chaff. The second factor, shot rate, is hugely important because most defensemen get less than two shots per game. On the seven teams featured in this column there are only 12 defensemen averaging more than two shots per game, that is less than two per team. A higher shot rate just makes it that much easier for that defenseman to succeed. For example, Dennis Wideman has derived all of his value in recent years from his willingness to shoot. His shot rate on TJ Brodie would be close to a perfect fantasy defenseman. Finally, assist rate is important because defensemen are so reliant on assists for their points because they shoot so infrequently. As such they can get hurt more by a struggling offense or see a spike due to a high secondary assist rate.

 

Anaheim

 

Player

GP

TOI/G

PP TOI %

G

A

PPP

SH/G

SH%

Status

Cam Fowler

24

24.00

66.4%

7

9

8

2.1

13.2%

Hold

Kevin Bieksa

24

20.15

33.1%

1

0

1

1.6

2.4%

Sell

Josh Manson

24

18.95

0.8%

0

5

0

0.8

0.0%

Buy

Sami Vatanen

24

21.90

64.5%

1

10

7

1.3

3.0%

Hard Buy

Clayton Stoner

14

17.55

1.0%

1

2

0

1.1

6.3%

Sell

Hampus Lindholm

11

21.45

32.0%

0

2

1

1.2

0.0%

Buy

Shea Theodore

10

17.90

37.8%

0

2

0

1.4

0.0%

Hold/Sell

 

It should come as no surprise that the top two defensemen on the Ducks in terms of point production are the two that have thus far dominated the available power-play time. For Fowler, his large portion of the available power play (you can get this by season, or by game, simply by clicking his name and seeing his fantasy hockey profile) is complimented by the Ducks having improved offensively with him on the ice for a third consecutive year. Fowler is on the ice for more shots, scoring chances and expected goals at even strength than he has been at any point in the last four years. He is set up for a career year although his current pace is probably exaggerated given his higher-than-normal shooting percentage, on-ice shooting percentage and secondary assist rate. Vatanen on the other hand is having horrible luck at even strength with an insanely low individual point percentage (IPP) of 21.4%. With the Ducks rocking a killer power play for the second consecutive year there is little reason to worry about Fowler and lots to be excited about in regards to Vatanen. Hampus Lindholm may be the best defenseman on the Ducks but he is at best the third fantasy option and may even be falling behind Josh Manson depending on the categories. It is probably too early for that though, but his peripherals are deadly at 1.5 penalty minutes, 2.5 hits and one block per game. Manson has certainly surpassed Bieksa as the defenseman with the best peripherals even though Bieksa, for some unknown reason, still garners more ice time. Lindholm and Manson have played together for 131 of the 205 even-strength minutes Lindholm has played making them the Ducks’ best pairing so their offensive numbers should be fairly similar with a slight edge to Lindholm because of his power play minutes. With Manson stepping up at even strength and Bieksa still getting power-play time there is not a lot of room for Shea Theodore on this blue line, as it is he has no value unless a trade is made.

 

Arizona

 

Player

GP

TOI

PP TOI %

G

A

PPP

SH/G

SH%

Status

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

22

24.45

83.3%

5

7

5

2.3

9.6%

Hold

Alex Goligoski

22

23.25

43.1%

0

9

2

1.5

0.0%

Hold

Connor Murphy

21

21.95

11.7%

0

4

0

1.1

0.0%

Hold

Luke Schenn

19

15.15

0.3%

0

2

0

0.9

0.0%

Hold

Jakob Chychrun

16

16.65

4.6%

1

3

0

1.1

5.6%

Hold

Michael Stone

13

20.80

39.6%

0

6

3

1.3

0.0%

Hold

Anthony DeAngelo

10

19.25

65.3%

2

5

4

1.5

11.8%

Hold/Sell

Kevin Connauton

7

13.25

6.1%

0

1

0

1.0

0.0%

Sell/Waive

 

Once again Oliver Ekman-Larsson (OEL) dominates the Coyotes power play as he is on the ice for five of every six minutes of the available time. As such he is hurt the most by the Coyotes power-play struggles, which would seem to be real because the fall to this year’s 14% is part of a larger fall from grace for what was once a solid power play. It does not help that the Coyotes also are not drawing as many penalties as they have in the past. The power play struggles and less PP time in general are not good signs on their own but the drop in OEL’s shot rate by half on the power play, and a reversion to his 2013-14 even strength shot rate, have OEL back on a 20-goal and 40-point pace. While OEL is struggling the Coyotes’ big offseason acquisition on the blueline, Alex Goligoski, has been as expected. His point rate and shot rate are in line with his career averages. That is without him having scored yet this season but Goligoski does not shoot enough for that to have a huge impact. The most interesting defenseman in Arizona this year has to be Anthony DeAngelo. The rookie, who was sent back to the AHL over the weekend, had seven points in 11 games, including four power-play points. He was getting an abundance of PP time and has been involved in 80% of the Coyotes’ power-play offense when he is on the ice. That is ridiculously high as is his even-strength IPP of 50%, which is at a level that very few defensemen can hit regularly. Add in that DeAngelo does not shoot a lot but is scoring on 10% of his shots and it all adds up to him not being able to maintain this pace, but 25 points for the rest of the season is reasonable - if he's called back up before the New Year. Connor Murphy makes a better multi-category play but will not break 25 points. Jakob Chychrun could have been interesting but he does not get the minutes, even-strength or otherwise, to have much of an impact outside of some peripheral value - and in fact those minutes are declining with each game. At least he is not Connauton who is now devoid of value.

 

Calgary

 

Player

GP

TOI

PP TOI %

G

A

PPP

SH/G

SH%

Status

TJ Brodie

27

23.45

40.4%

1

6

2

1.1

3.3%

Buy

Mark Giordano

27

24.80

59.0%

1

8

3

2.3

1.6%

Buy

Deryk Engelland

27

18.50

0.8%

1

5

0

1.4

2.7%

Sell

Dougie Hamilton

27

19.35

48.1%

2

10

2

2.7

2.7%

Hold/ Buy

Dennis Wideman

20

21.45

42.4%

2

4

4

2.2

4.7%

Hold

Jyrki Jokipakka

16

14.83

3.5%

1

4

0

0.4

14.3%

Sell

Brett Kulak

15

14.70

7.2%

0

3

0

1.1

0.0%

Waive

 

There are three tiers of defensemen on the Flames roster: the serious options (Giordano, Brodie and Hamilton), the bubble option (Wideman) and the ignores (Engelland, Jokipakka and Kulak). In the first tier the defensemen are largely known quantities but the most interesting of them is Dougie Hamilton as he is on pace for 40 points, has a low shooting percentage and is taking more shots than ever before. At the same time he plays less than Dennis Wideman at even strength and is rumored to be on the move, or at least on the market. As long as he is on the Flames he will be good for 45 points. Giordano and Brodie are having similar issues this season although Giordano makes for the far better fantasy option. Giordano gets 60% of the power-play time and has an even strength IPP of 21.4% whereas he is often around 45%. He is not going to finish below 30 points this year while averaging more than two shots per game. Brodie on the other hand is a bit more of a risk.  He is another case where he has not been involved in the offense at his usual rate, as he is currently at 16.7%. On this version of the Flames Brodie is maybe a 40-point defenseman given his lack of power play time. He is heavily reliant on assists as he rarely shoots and as such he will see more spikes based on his secondary assist rate and the team’s offensive output. The Flames’ use of Wideman is a little weird given that he plays ahead of Hamilton at even strength. He is the shooter on the second power play unit, because Brodie will not, or does not, which helps Wideman’s goal numbers over the course of a season but he is a 30-point defenseman at this point of his career. Engelland has a little value in multi-cat leagues whereas Jokipakka and Kulak have no value.

 

Chicago

 

Player

GP

TOI

PP TOI %

G

A

PPP

SH/G

SH%

Status

Duncan Keith

25

26.05

65.7%

0

17

3

2.2

0.0%

Hold

Niklas Hjalmarsson

24

21.80

1.2%

3

3

0

0.9

13.6%

Sell

Brian Campbell

25

18.75

33.2%

2

6

3

1.1

7.1%

Buy/Hold

Brent Seabrook

25

22.90

65.0%

2

13

5

1.6

4.8%

Hold/Sell

Michal Kempny

20

16.15

1.5%

0

2

0

1.3

0.0%

Waive

Gustav Forsling

21

15.60

26.1%

1

3

1

1.3

3.7%

Waive

Michal Rozsival

9

15.20

1.4%

0

1

0

0.7

0.0%

Waive

 

Brian Campbell is not getting enough even-strength or power-play time to have much fantasy value. He is currently on pace for just under 25 points while his shot rate is down for a third consecutive year. He is still great at driving the play when he is on the ice but he is now at most a 35-point defenseman, he makes a good pickup option this year because he will not be involved as low a percentage of the offense as he is now. As Campbell is a borderline own in may fantasy leagues there are only two players on Chicago’s backend that warrant fantasy attention. The Hawks’ depth defensemen do not bring any peripheral value and while Hjalmarsson might look appealing at the moment it is largely a mirage. The real options are well known in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. They heavily dominate the Hawks’ available power-play time, which the since last year has been a huge boon. There are reasons to be nervous about Brent Seabrook though as he has yet to get a primary assist at even strength this year and the Hawks’ shooting percentage is coming back to earth. There is very little that screams 45 points this year for Seabrook. Keith on the other hand has a slightly higher than normal assist rate but is not scoring despite a higher than normal shot rate. If he was not already on pace for 50 points he might have even have received a buy recommendation.

 

Colorado

 

Player

GP

TOI

PP TOI %

G

A

PPP

SH/G

SH%

Status

Tyson Barrie

22

22.95

58.7%

2

9

3

2.2

3.9%

Hold/Buy

Erik Johnson

22

22.00

39.4%

1

10

5

2.0

2.1%

Sell/Waive

Francois Beauchemin

22

20.50

10.4%

0

5

2

1.4

0.0%

Buy/Hold

Nikita Zadorov

21

17.05

1.2%

0

3

0

0.7

0.0%

Sell

Patrick Wiercioch

20

17.55

26.8%

2

6

0

1.2

7.7%

Hold

Fedor Tyutin

18

18.85

1.2%

0

7

0

0.7

0.0%

Hard Sell

Eric Gelinas

7

12.45

2.4%

0

1

0

1.4

0.0%

Gamble

 

The news that Erik Johnson has a broken fibula should throw Colorado’s defense into some disarray, which is a shame as they have quietly become a quality unit. The fantasy implications are significant as he still gets nearly 40% of the power-play time and plays more than 22 minutes per game overall. There are a number of possible winners with the Johnson injury, but the front-runners are Tyson Barrie, Frnacois Beauchemin and Patrick Wiercioch. Barrie has been disappointing this season and it is not just because the Avalanche offense is sputtering. For the first time in four years the Avalanche are taking fewer shots and getting fewer scoring chances with Barrie on the ice than when he is off. Despite that he has been involved in a ridiculous 61.5% percentage of the Avs’ offense when he is on the ice. The amazing thing about that is it has basically all been primary points. With those numbers he should get a sell rating but the Avs overall offensive struggles and the Johnson injury give Barrie too much room for in-season improvement. Wiercioch is a bit of a long shot to gain much from the Johnson injury as he plays on the power play predominantly with Johnson. He wins if he becomes the only defenseman on the second unit and/or he gets more even-strength time. If he does not get a power-play boost there are some serious warning signs with Wiercioch as he has been involved in 72.7% of the offense at even strength when he is on the ice. That is helped in large part by his eight assists, only two of which are primary assists. Francois Beauchemin is the most likely beneficiary of the Johnson injury as under Patrick Roy he saw 30% of the power-play time for the last two years but this year is down to 10%. Sell fast on Tyutin, should anyone own him, as his assist rate will not hold up. He will likely get hurt the most by the Johnson injury as he will now have to take the tough minutes with a vastly inferior defenseman as his partner. 

 

Dallas

 

Player

GP

TOI

PP TOI %

G

A

PPP

SH/G

SH%

Status

John Klingberg

23

22.70

61.6%

2

10

6

1.3

6.5%

Hold/Sell

Dan Hamhuis

23

19.95

33.3%

0

5

0

1.3

0.0%

Hold/Sell

Jordie Benn

23

19.20

33.3%

1

5

2

1.2

3.6%

Hold

Johnny Oduya

19

18.80

3.2%

1

4

0

0.8

0.0%

Hold

Stephen Johns

18

18.95

6.8%

2

3

0

1.1

10.0%

Hold

Esa Lindell

16

19.10

8.9%

2

2

1

1.1

11.1%

Hold

Patrik Nemeth

14

16.55

0.7%

0

0

0

1.1

0.0%

Waive

Jamie Oleksiak

11

15.75

0.9%

3

1

0

1.3

21.4%

Sell

Julius Honka

6

18.00

41.2%

0

3

1

2.4

0.0%

Gamble

 

Klingberg is being hurt by the Stars injuries on offense and their subsequent struggles on offense. A big part of the reason why his point totals are down is he is not shooting like he did last year as he is on pace to take half as many shots. His shooting percentage at even strength is really low but he is not shooting enough to get a huge boost from some positive regression. His pace will improve but he will not hit 50 points. There is a tier of Dallas defensemen that are basically 20-30 point quasi-defensive defensemen who provide varying degrees of peripheral value. This year that group includes, in order of most value to least, Stephen Johns, Dan Hamhuis and Johnny Oduya. Johns has struggled some this year but his peripheral numbers are big with almost three hits per game and two blocks per game. He also has the ability to add 20 points. Dan Hamhuis gets more power-play time on the second unit, or did until Honka got called up, but that does not provide a ton of value. He is a better own in a points league but does not provide nearly the same peripheral value. The last is Oduya who is a fringe own in all but the deepest of leagues. Jordie Benn is somewhat interesting because he combines a bit of the peripherals of Johns with the power play time of Hamhuis. His shot rate is up over a shot per game and he could challenge for 30 points if he got some slightly easier usage, as it is he is another 20-point guy with some peripheral value. Of the four young defensemen on the Stars Esa Lindell has received the most play but Honka is the one to keep an eye on. He is getting the second most PP time amongst Stars’ defensemen when he is in the lineup. He is the only Stars defenseman taking more than two shots per game and he is having no luck whatsoever. He is on pace for 27 points in 63 games while not having scored on his 17 shots as well as an even strength on-ice shooting percentage of 2.9%. With a bit of change in his luck he could push Klingberg for the defense lead in points, read 40 points. He will not but he could, and 30 points is more likely if he sticks on the crowded blue line.

 

Edmonton

 

Player

GP

TOI

PP TOI %

Goals

Assists

PPP

SH/G

SH%

Status

Adam Larsson

25

20.15

5.5%

2

4

0

1.2

6.5%

Hold/Sell

Oscar Klefbom

25

21.80

51.4%

3

6

2

2.3

5.0%

Buy

Andrej Sekera

25

20.65

35.9%

3

7

3

1.0

11.5%

Hold

Darnell Nurse

25

17.67

1.5%

3

2

0

1.7

7.0%

Hold

Kris Russell

18

21.00

11.6%

0

4

0

1.2

0.0%

Hold

Matt Benning

16

16.55

15.9%

0

4

0

1.4

0.0%

Hold

Eric Gryba

14

17.33

0.3%

0

0

0

1.1

0.0%

Hold

 

The days of the Oilers defense corps being a wasteland are over as they now have four solid defensemen, it could be five depending on which side of the Kris Russell argument one comes down on. The two best options on this blue line are the two leading it in scoring: Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera. Klefbom is the better option as he gets almost twice as much power-play time and takes more than double the shots. If any of the Oilers’ defensemen are going to get 40 points this year Klefbom is the most likely to do it as his shot rate gives him a good chance at getting at least 10 goals. This seems especially likely given his IPP on the power play of only 21%. Add in that 67% of his assists have been of the primary nature and there is a defenseman with a lot of upside. Sekera on the other hand is on pace to score nine goals in fewer than 80 shots. Something closer to five goals is far more likely unless he doubles his current shot rate. He has yet to get a secondary assist at even strength so an uptick in assists could certainly pick up the slack when his shooting percentage but he that should still basically put him on pace for 30 points. Larsson and Nurse are being used primarily in a defensive capacity and as such provide mainly peripheral value.

 

Statistics this week were drawn from Corsica.hockey, stats.hockeyanalysis.com and Dobberhockey.com's Frozen Pool Reporting Tools

 

 

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  • larrylintz

    I would strongly agree that when only one of a whole bunch of d-men warrants a “hard buy,” you’d like to see a little bit more space devoted to him in the text as opposed to a Hamhuis!

  • mario

    Hold/Sell on Klingberg? Why on earth would you sell him now at his lowest value? If anything he should be a buy-low…

    • Doran Libin

      I had him as a hold/sell because I don’t think he rebounds. If it was just a percentages issue I would recommend a buy but the significant drop in the number of shots he is taking is very concerning.

  • wonko

    Just curious why do you consider Vatanen a Hard Buy?

    • Doran Libin

      Vatanen looks like a great bet to have a big stretch at some point this season. As great as he has been on the power play he has been equally snake bitten at even strength. His scoring pace should be significantly than it currently is.

      • wonko

        Thank you for your reply Doran. I ask because I have an offer of Vatanen and Getz for my Ghost. Would you do this deal?

      • Doran Libin

        The only reason not to do it is if it’s a cap league. Also depends on whether you need to drop someone and who it would be.

      • wonko

        Not a cap league. Drop would be waiver wire fodder.