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Fantasy Hockey Notebook: Looking For Depth On Defense

Dealing with the injury epidemic among NHL defensemen.

By

See the Latest Fantasy Hockey Tips and Resources

January 23/04-

The Jagr Watch:

In Jaromir Jagr's second game as a Ranger, he spent most of the night on a line with Eric Lindros and Martin Rucinsky, finishing with a goal and two assists as New York defeated Florida 5-2. Florida had 40 shots on goal, indicating that the Rangers still have huge defensive issues. From a fantasy hockey perspective, a safe bet might be that Jagr will get hot for a couple of weeks, and then settle into a point-per-game pace.

Carnage On The Blue Line

A rash of injuries has struck down prominent NHL defensemen in the last few weeks. Eric Desjardins, Jay Bouwmeester, Ed Jovanovski, Scott Stevens, Darius Kasparaitus, Mike van Ryn, Marcus Ragnarsson, Jay McKee and Greg de Vries, are among those who will be laid up for a while. They join players like Derian Hatcher, Al MacInnis, Barret Jackman and Sandis Ozolinsh, who have already missed much of the season.

What's a fantasy hockey manager to do? There are no miracles cures out there, but if your blue line is going down in flames, here are a few lesser lights who might be able to fill in for a few weeks:

Jiri Slegr, Boston Bruins.
4 goals-7 assists in 20 games.
Slegr was inserted into the Bruins' power play immediately upon his arrival from Vancouver. He has responded with four points in his first four games.

Andy Delmore, Buffalo Sabres.
0 goals-2 assists in 20 games.
A major disappointment, Delmore was sent to the minors for most of January. The Sabres are likely willing to trade him for next to nothing. Given his history (34 goals in the last two seasons) he could go on a scoring streak, especially if he lands on a playoff-bound team.

Alexei Zhitnik, Buffalo Sabres.
3 goals-16 assists in 51 games.
He might be available cheap in a trade, and will probably finish with 25-30 points.

Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens.
3 goals-11 assists in 40 games.
Markov is well behind last year's pace. A sudden scoring streak is not beyond his reach.

Sean Hill, Carolina Hurricanes.
4 goals-14 assists in 48 games.
Dan Markov's trade to Philadelphia means Hill could inherit more power play time.

Igor Ulanov, Edmonton Oilers.
0 goals-4 assists in 10 games.
A desperation signing by the defensively unhinged Oilers, Ulanov has been a pleasant surprise.

Niclas Havelid, Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
2 goals-14 assists in 47 games.
Six assists in his last two games.

Joe Corvo, Los Angeles Kings.
4 goals-10 assists in 41 games.
Corvo has been known to jump into the attack on a Kings' team that remains competitive despite injuries to every star player.

Daniel Tjarnqvist, Atlanta Thrashers.
3 goals-9 assists in 39 games.
Has seven points in January.

John-Michael Liles, Colorado Avalanche.
5 goals-12 assists in 49 games.
Liles is way down the Colorado depth chart, but has shown a scoring touch.

Tom Preissing, San Jose Sharks.
1 goal-8 assists in 40 games.
Preissing, a 25-year-old rookie, looks more confident with the puck and has seen his ice time increase on an improved San Jose team.

Christian Backman, St. Louis Blues.
3 goals-7 assists in 33 games.
He would probably be in the AHL if the Blues were fully healthy. Injuries have afforded him increased ice time, and he chips in the occasional assist.

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