Five For Fantasizing: Blue Light Special

Christian Petersen

The Coyotes blue line patrol had a week for the ages. Is it sustainable? This week's fantasy review will search to provide an answer as it profiles three Coyotes defensemen and what it means going forward.

The Coyotes went 3-0-0 this week.  They also put up quite a few goals in doing so, scoring 12 goals in those three games. The major point of production in this week was the point-men, as the Coyote defense scored six goals and added nine assists.  In fact, the Coyotes totaled 12 goals and 22 assists on the week, which means that the blue line accounted for 44% of the total production.  That's pretty good, especially if you have any Coyotes defensemen on your roster.  Lets take a look at the week that was for three of those defensemen.

1.  Keith Yandle


Keith Yandle

#3 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes

6-1

190

Sep 09, 1986



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2013 - Keith Yandle 14 1 10 11 -3 6 1 0 0 29


After starting the season with just a single assist in the team's first seven games, Yandle has turned it on and is becoming a point making machine.  With 10 points in his last seven games, Yandle is currently tied for the lead in points by defensemen with teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban.  That's good company.  What's even better is how Yandle is getting those points, with seven of them (one goal and six assists) coming with the man advantage.  This week, Yandle put up one goal and four assists (all but one of the assists came on the power play) with six OG while playing 24:04 per game.

His plus/minus is low and may struggle to get above the minus barrier given the way the Coyotes are playing defense at the moment, but that's a negative you can live with.  Yandle has been a better than average fantasy defender for years while playing on a team that struggled to score and being mired on a below average power play.  Now that the Coyotes are scoring with abandon (currently 3rd in the league in goals per game with 3.4 and tied for second with 47 total goals) and have an actual NHL level power play (12th in the league with a 21.2 conversion rate), Yandle could have a career year.  There is no fear of his production falling off (especially with this being an Olympic year) and he hasn't missed a game in over five seasons.  If you have him on your team, you're rolling him out every game and if you can swing a trade for him, now would be the time because the price will only go up as the season moves on.

2.  Derek Morris


Derek Morris

#53 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes

6-0

200

Aug 24, 1978



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2013 - Derek Morris 12 4 5 9 1 4 0 0 0 18

The veteran has seemingly found the fountain of youth in 2013, putting up numbers at a rate that he hasn't approached since 2002 with the Avalanche.  With nine points through the Coyotes' first 14 games, he's on pace for 52 on the season.  To put this into perspective, in 187 games since rejoining the Coyotes at the 2010 trade deadline, he's put up 42 points.  Obviously, he won't continue to score at the pace he's currently on (his career high for points stands at 48) since a 22.2% shooting percentage isn't really sustainable.  However, there are other indicators that the production should continue to be steady.

For one, Morris plays with Keith Yandle.  Yandle is going to put up points, and he and Morris have an undeniable chemistry that lets each other do what they do best.  As long as he's Yandle's partner, Morris should collect some overflow points.  He's also putting up these points without the benefit of power play time.  Usually this would be a red flag, but given how the Coyotes have recently been a team that doesn't rely on the man advantage for goal scoring, Morris is okay.  He's also leading the team in hits by defenseman and is fifth in blocked shots if you are in a league that counts those.  The bottom line with Morris is that he is certainly rosterable in all leagues and in non-rotisserie leagues could certainly be in your lineups.  For rotisserie leagues, he's worth a bench spot or is a good injury replacement.

3.  Zbynek Michalek


Zbynek Michalek

#4 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes

6-2

210

Dec 23, 1982



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2013 - Zbynek Michalek 14 0 4 4 8 6 0 0 0 20

Were you expecting someone else?

Certainly OEL had a good week, as we'll get into shortly, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about Z and to illustrate why the scoring of your league can dramatically influence the worth of a player.

Michalek had a decent week, with an assist and five SOG.  For most fantasy leagues, that wouldn't be worth thinking twice about though.  But if you are in a league that counts hits and/or blocked shots, all of a sudden Z had a very good week, with two hits (defensemen generally have fewer than forwards) but he added 12 blocked shots, including seven against the Kings on Tuesday night.

In standard leagues, Z doesn't rate as rosterable at this moment, but in leagues with added stat scoring, he becomes a fascinating guy to think about.  He currently is second in the league in blocked shots with 41, he's tied for 66th in hits by a defenseman with 16 and his +8 rating is tied for 10th.  He also has 20 SOG, which is high for him while also being encouraging for his chance to add points to his stat line.  He doesn't get power play time but still averages 21:42 ATOI which is third on the team.  If you are in a league that counts blocked shots, add him because he's not hurting you in other stats so far this season.

4.  Skating With the Pack: Add/Drop Advice

  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson continues to tear it up.  He had a goal and four assists this week with five SOG and three PPP.  He also skated 24:40 per game, which is actually low for him.  He's finally owned in all ESPN leagues but is still available in 8% of Yahoo leagues.  If you play in one of those leagues, why haven't you added him yet???
  • Antoine Vermette continues to push for his inclusion in Olympic roster discussions.  He had 10 SOG in the three games this week and scored the huge game tying goal against Nashville.  He's fifth on the team in shots with 30, is playing 18:45 a night and is second in plus/minus for Coyotes forwards with a +7 behind only Rob Klinkhammer's +10.
  • Mikkel Boedker continues to disappoint his fantasy owners that have stuck with him.  He had no points this week and only had one shot on goal.  ONE! That is not cutting it and he can be dropped without question, particularly if you are in a eight team or less league.  He may start to play up to expectations at some point, and if he does hopefully you can pick him back up.  If not, you aren't missing much at this point.
  • After seeing his stock drop some the previous week, the Captain had a bounce back three games.  Shane Doan scored two goals and two assists, had eight SOG with four hits while playing 22:30 per game.  With the Coyotes most valuable fantasy forward Martin Hanzal suspended the last two games, Doan stepped up and made a huge impact.

5.  The Trail Ahead: The Next Week of Games

The Coyotes will see action in three games in the coming week.  All three matchups are against Pacific division rivals and all of them could be rough for the team if the defense doesn't begin to play better.

  • Tomorrow, the Coyotes return to San Jose hoping to put the memories of the second game of the season and Tomas Hertl's coming out party behind them.  The Sharks are currently playing better than any team in the league, with only one regulation loss and that came in the final seconds against Boston.  The Sharks are 1st in the league in scoring and are 2nd in goal prevention.  Antti Niemi is the Vezina front runner on the season.  This could be a difficult game for the Yotes for fantasy purposes and a game where you might want to sit Mike Smith if you have him.
  • On Tuesday, the Coyotes will host the Vancouver Canucks for the first time as division rivals.  The Canucks have gotten off to a pretty good start under new coach John Tortorella, ranking 15th in goals and 13th in goals against.  Surprisingly, the Canuck power play is 29th.  It's bizarro world when the Canucks have one of the worst power plays and the Coyotes have one of the best. 
  • Wedensday, the Coyotes travel to Anaheim for an odd back-to-back scenario.  The Ducks own a shootout victory over the Coyotes in Anaheim already this season and the Coyotes want that back.  Currently the Ducks are 9th in both goals per game and goals allowed but they have the worst power play in the league.  I don't understand it either.  If nothing else, the Coyotes penalty kill should improve this week even if their fantasy prospects might take a hit facing two of the top ten defensive teams in the league.  But last night was supposed to be a defensive battle to, so who knows.

That's another week of fantasy hockey in the books.  Good luck in the coming week and get to scoring.

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