It's the same thing every year in leagues that require six active defensemen every week. There is a shortage of good ones and that shortage becomes even more emphasized with each passing month. By the time January rolls around, more than half of your fantasy league is dissatisfied with at least two of their defensemen and the waiver wire has been picked clean. But there are some hidden gems out there.
Either these defensemen will be available on your waiver wire, or they’re sitting on someone's bench, or they’re active on someone’s roster, but available for cheap.
Mark Barberio, Tampa Bay Lightning - The offensive rearguard was the 2012 recipient of the Eddie Shore Award for top American League defenseman. Until recently, he hadn't made an impact at the NHL level. But three points in two games shows he's found his comfort zone, so there could be more to come.
Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche - Barrie has struggled with consistency this year, but his all-round game is coming into form and it's reflected in his increasing ice time and power play presence. He has 10 points in his past 15 games.
Jason Demers, San Jose Sharks - Demers has put points on the board in 11 of his past 15 contests. He's shown flashes of this before, but it had always been cut short by injury. This time he's on pace for 40 points and a full, healthy season.
Eric Gelinas, New Jersey Devils - Despite limited ice time and occasional demotions and healthy scratches, the rookie Gelinas has seven points in his past eight games and 22 points on the campaign.
Dan Girardi, New York Rangers - Girardi's production has been ho-hum so far, but with Michael Del Zotto shipped out of town, Girardi will become a mainstay on the second PP unit.
Nick Holden, Colorado Avalanche - Where Andre Benoit held value in the first 20 games, Holden looks to be that guy for the next 20. Or more. With six points - three on the power play - in his past six games, the 26-year-old should be on your radar.
Jack Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets - Johnson is owned in a lot of leagues, sure, but he's disliked in most of them thanks to a horrible plus/minus. Or, at least, he used to be. His plus/minus “was” horrible. But ever since Nathan Horton joined the team, he's turned that around. His production is up, too. Could be had for a good price from his current fantasy owner.
Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets - Murray has points in seven of his past nine games. As I noted in Tuesday's article, the Blue Jackets are flying offensively and Murray is one of the beneficiaries of this.
Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes - Sekera's numbers are down since the team acquired John-Michael Liles. But Liles hasn't exactly rewarded them with stellar production. Play the hunch that within three weeks, Sekera will get his power play spot back. Sekera had 15 points in 17 games before Liles arrived.
Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets - Too young and inexperienced to make an impact? Too many puck-moving Jets defensemen ahead of him on the depth chart? Actually, no. The 19-year-old has 15 points in his past 23 games. He's the real deal - and he's arrived.
If you are in a league that counts hits, it may be wise to dedicate a defenseman or two just on that category. Here are some of the big hitters who may not have hit your radar.
Mark Fistric, Anaheim Ducks - Zero offensive upside, but only Toronto's Cody Franson has more hits in the past three weeks. Fistric has 39 of them in his past eight games.
Mark Stuart, Winnipeg Jets - Tied with Fistric these past three weeks with 39 hits in 10 games. Unlike Fistric, Stuart has been pretty good in penalty minutes as well.
Slava Voynov, Los Angeles Kings - Although his current 32-point pace is a huge disappointment for fantasy owners, Voynov is still quite productive in hits. In the past three weeks he has 33 in 11 games.
Calvin de Haan, New York Islanders - After a nice little productive run of seven points in five games, de Haan has just one in his past four. But he has 33 hits in his past 12 contests and is under the radar in leagues that count that stat.
Michael Del Zotto, Nashville Predators - Del Zotto was pretty good in his category as a rookie and sophomore, but he has declined of late. And we know his point production has declined. Is it motivation-based? Injury-based? If it's the former, a new team will usually turn things around for the player. Here are Del Zotto's hits, by season (per game average):
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.