Thin Blue Line: Trade fallout

Updated: April 4, 2013, 5:54 PM ET
By Victoria Matiash | ESPN.com

Now that the 2013 NHL trade deadline is in the books, we have a clearer picture of how the fantasy landscape looks for the final stretch of the season. As far as defensemen are concerned, the impact of recent transactions remains minimal. While several substantial and/or surprising deals were hammered out -- anyone outside of the Rangers and Blue Jackets organizations who claims he/she saw the Marian Gaborik trade coming is almost certainly fibbing -- few blueliners with any real fantasy value were exchanged. (Note that we said "few," not zero.) By hammering out a deal with the Calgary Flames for Jay Bouwmeester -- and to a lesser extent snagging Jordan Leopold from the Buffalo Sabres -- the St. Louis Blues are sporting a significantly different blue line than before the deadline. And the fantasy fallout could be interesting.

Ahead of his debut for St. Louis on Thursday, Bouwmeester is expected to partner with Alex Pietrangelo to form the Blues' top pair, resulting in a projected Leopold-Kevin Shattenkirk coupling to round out the top four. Not a shabby bunch. At first glance, there appears to be the pleasant potential for plenty of production from the back end -- particularly in the case of Pietrangelo running shotgun to Bouwmeester, who's a puck-moving D-man with size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds).

Top 75 Defensemen

Note: Victoria Matiash's top 75 defensemen are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Ryan Suter, Min (1)
2. P.K. Subban, Mon (2)
3. Dustin Byfuglien, Win (3)
4. Andrei Markov, Mon (4)
5. Zdeno Chara, Bos (5)
6. Shea Weber, Nsh (7)
7. Tobias Enstrom, Win (6)
8. Sergei Gonchar, Ott (8)
9. Niklas Kronwall, Det (9)
10. Mike Green, Was (52)
11. Brian Campbell, Fla (11)
12. Alex Pietrangelo, StL (12)
13. Duncan Keith, Chi (14)
14. Dion Phaneuf, Tor (15)
15. Kimmo Timonen, Phi (16)
16. Kevin Shattenkirk, StL (10)
17. Drew Doughty, LA (17)
18. Keith Yandle, Pho (21)
19. Dan Boyle, SJ (19)
20. Justin Schultz, Edm (28)
21. Brent Burns, SJ (20)
22. Alexander Edler, Van (18)
23. Mark Streit, NYI (23)
24. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Pho (13)
25. Slava Voynov, LA (24)
26. Alex Goligoski, Dal (27)
27. Lubomir Visnovsky, NYI (25)
28. Jack Johnson, Cls (26)
29. John Carlson, Was (46)
30. Ryan Whitney, Edm (30)
31. Dennis Wideman, Cgy (32)
32. Cody Franson, Tor (29)
33. Christian Ehrhoff, Buf (37)
34. Michael Del Zotto, NYR (33)
35. Francois Beauchemin, Ana (31)
36. Nick Leddy, Chi (34)
37. James Wisniewski, Cls (58)
38. Victor Hedman, TB (36)
39. Kris Letang, Pit (44)
40. Jared Spurgeon, Min (40)
41. Brent Seabrook, Chi (38)
42. Marek Zidlicky, NJ (41)
43. Fedor Tyutin, Cls (35)
44. Jake Muzzin, LA (39)
45. Roman Josi, Nsh (43)
46. Sami Salo, TB (45)
47. Jay Bouwmeester, StL (50)
48. Sheldon Souray, Ana (48)
49. Matt Carle, TB (49)
50. Marc-Andre Bergeron, Car (off)
51. Dan Girardi, NYR (53)
52. Dougie Hamilton, Bos (54)
53. Patrick Wiercioch, Ott (47)
54. Matt Niskanen, Pit (62)
55. Joe Corvo, Car (61)
56. Cam Fowler, Ana (65)
57. Kevin Bieksa, Van (55)
58. Dennis Seidenberg, Bos (60)
59. Matt Irwin, SJ (59)
60. Jakub Kindl, Det (51)
61. Dan Hamhuis, Van (57)
62. Mark Giordano, Cgy (64)
63. John-Michael Liles, Tor (67)
64. Zach Bogosian, Win (66)
65. Andy Greene, NJ (74)
66. Jonas Brodin, Min (off)
67. Tyson Barrie, Col (69)
68. Andre Benoit, Ott (off)
69. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (75)
70. Dmitry Kulikov, Fla (70)
71. Tyler Myers, Buf (off)
72. Brendan Smith, Det (68)
73. Travis Hamonic, NYI (71)
74. Simon Despres, Pit (off)
75. Jason Garrison, Van (73)

However, there is some concern with how coach Ken Hitchcock intends to run his power play, given the new options available. Don't be surprised if the Blues' coach utilizes the Bouwmeester-Pietrangelo pairing on the top unit, demoting Shattenkirk to the second unit. There's no guarantee that's how it'll shake out, but Shattenkirk's fantasy owners should keep a close eye on the situation. As for the former Flame, Bouwmeester is in a position to build on what has already been a fairly fruitful (15 points) campaign. The Blues are a more productive bunch as a whole, both scoring more goals and allowing fewer goals per game than Calgary.

Back in Calgary, veterans Dennis Wideman and Mark Giordano are left to hold down the fantasy fort. Both should see a boost in even-strength and power-play minutes following Bouwmeester's departure. Plus, everyone left after the trade deadline is now able to exhale knowing that they aren't going to be shipped off. Clearly in rebuilding mode -- and without the stifling pressure of having to earn a playoff spot -- the Flames can simply go about the business of playing hockey. Once the dust settles, the lighter atmosphere will help all of the Flames' skaters post better numbers.

Rising and falling

Marc-Andre Bergeron, Carolina Hurricanes (re-emerges at No. 50): Once again, we find ourselves forced to address Bergeron's legitimate fantasy value. And not only because Joni Pitkanen (broken left heel bone) is out for the rest of the season and the return of Justin Faulk (knee injury) remains up in the air.

Jettisoned via a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bergeron is quickly establishing himself as a force on the Hurricanes' power play. After only one game in a Carolina uniform, the 32-year-old specialist already has a power-play assist. When healthy, Bergeron racks up a whack of points in fits and bursts -- particularly when first joining a new squad. In the last decade, the well-traveled D-man has put forth such performances with the Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, and most recently, the Lightning. Virtually unowned in ESPN.com leagues, Bergeron could be an easy grab with a lot of scoring upside. History dictates as much, in any case.

Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs (off): While Ryan O'Byrne carries minimal fantasy value on his own, his addition to the Maple Leafs' roster doesn't bode well for Gardiner. Specifically, Gardiner and Mike Kostka are the favored odd-men out once O'Byrne joins the lineup, according to The (Toronto) Globe and Mail. The fact that Gardiner was a healthy scratch in the Leafs' last matchup -- a 4-0 thrashing of the Ottawa Senators -- further supports that prognosis. Again on coach Randy Carlyle's good side, John-Michael Liles is the current dark-horse fantasy option in Toronto.

James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets (up 21 spots): Back in the mix after missing a month with a broken foot, Wisniewski seems to have returned to his fit and feisty self. And the trade-deadline addition of Gaborik to the Blues Jackets' power-play formula will provide a boost to all other members of the top unit, including Wisniewski.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix Coyotes (down 11 spots): After a dazzling first half (17 points in 25 games), Ekman-Larsson has gone cold of late, subsequently losing valuable power-play minutes to others players, such as David Schlemko. The young lad will undoubtedly snap out of his funk, but with less than a month left in the regular season, time is of the essence.

Mike Green, Washington Capitals (up 42 spots): He certainly seems healthy enough. And Green is scoring a ton. Fingers crossed that his health (groin) holds up.

Key injury (and other) notes

No concrete target date has been set, but Kris Letang (broken toe) could return for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the very near future. The sooner the better for Pittsburgh, as Paul Martin (broken hand) is out until the postseason. Matt Niskanen and Simon Despres are doing their best in trying to fill the significant void. … Following surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff, Andrej Meszaros is out until next season. While Luke Schenn is seeing additional ice-time with the extra skater, Kimmo Timonen is the only Philadelphia Flyers D-man with any considerable fantasy punch. … Dustin Byfuglien recently put in a few shifts as a winger for the Winnipeg Jets, though that's not that jaw-dropping of a move considering he skated as a forward with the Chicago Blackhawks. Just how long coach Claude Noel is willing to engage in this experiment isn't known, but the move certainly doesn't hurt Big Buff's fantasy value.

Power-play performers

Despite failing to trade for a desired top-four defenseman, the Detroit Red Wings remain flush in that department. With a healthy Carlo Colaiacovo back in action, Kyle Quincey ready to return and Danny DeKeyser revved up to make his NHL debut, coach Mike Babcock has lots of options to choose from when deciding which D-men to play on any given night. In addition to Ian White, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Jonathan Ericsson, Brian Lashoff and Niklas Kronwall, there are numerous combos with which to experiment. (Too many, as far as fantasy owners are concerned.) Outside of Kronwall, there are no sure-fire fantasy bets on the Red Wings' current blue line.

Following his trade from the Blue Jackets, John Moore got a taste of power-play action on Wednesday in his debut with the New York Rangers. He scored an even-strength goal, to boot. While Michael Del Zotto and Daniel Girardi remain the top fantasy assets for the Rangers, Moore is worth monitoring.

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