Commentary

Thin Blue Line: Trade helps Goligoski

Updated: February 24, 2011, 3:38 PM ET
By Victoria Matiash | Special to ESPN.com

Active week, huh? Blueliners with a flair for offense have been a hot commodity leading up to this season's trade deadline, which accounts for the onslaught of wheelin' and dealin' in the past several days. So we're going to skip the usual introductory pleasantries and get right to the fantasy meat, taking a closer look at all the defenseman-swapping madness.

For a review of the fantasy fallout following the Toronto Maple Leafs' trade of defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins, feel free to take a gander at last week's Thin Blue Line. I already discuss it in detail there.

Rising and Falling

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. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det (1)
2. Zdeno Chara, Bos (2)
3. Dustin Byfuglien, Atl (3)
4. Dan Boyle, SJ (4)
5. Lubomir Visnovsky, Ana (5)
6. Kris Letang, Pit (6)
7. Christian Ehrhoff, Van (7)
8. Keith Yandle, Pho (9)
9. Drew Doughty, LA (8)
10. Chris Pronger, Phi (10)
11. James Wisniewski, Mon (11)
12. John-Michael Liles, Col (13)
13. Shea Weber, Nsh (14)
14. Alex Goligoski, Dal (16)
15. Mike Green, Was (12)
16. Brian Rafalski, Det (15)
17. Jack Johnson, LA (17)
18. Tobias Enstrom, Atl (19)
19. Tomas Kaberle, Bos (18)
20. Kimmo Timonen, Phi (20)
21. Duncan Keith, Chi (21)
22. Marek Zidlicky, Min (51)
23. Niklas Kronwall, Det (23)
24. Bryan McCabe, Fla (33)
25. Mark Giordano, Cgy (25)
26. Joni Pitkanen, Car (26)
27. Stephane Robidas, Dal (24)
28. Brent Seabrook, Chi (29)
29. Brent Burns, Min (22)
30. Brian Campbell, Chi (30)
31. Sergei Gonchar, Ott (28)
32. Ryan Suter, Nsh (31)
33. Roman Hamrlik, Mon (32)
34. Jay Bouwmeester, Cgy (34)
35. Marc-Andre Bergeron, TB (37)
36. Dion Phaneuf, Tor (36)
37. Dennis Wideman, Fla (35)
38. P.K. Subban, Mon (38)
39. Alex Pietrangelo, StL (48)
40. Erik Karlsson, Ott (27)
41. Cam Fowler, Ana (40)
42. Joe Corvo, Car (41)
43. John Carlson, Was (43)
44. Matt Carle, Phi (44)
45. Anton Babchuk, Cgy (52)
46. Kevin Shattenkirk, StL (42)
47. Marc Staal, NYR (39)
48. Sami Salo, Van (50)
49. Andy Greene, NJ (47)
50. Tyler Myers, Buf (46)
51. Erik Johnson, Col (59)
52. Jordan Leopold, Buf (49)
53. Dennis Seidenberg, Bos (45)
54. Kevin Bieksa, Van (53)
55. Fedor Tyutin, Cls (54)
56. Jamie McBain, Car (55)
57. Andrej Meszaros, Phi (57)
58. Grant Clitsome, Cls (61)
59. Cody Franson, Nsh (60)
60. Paul Martin, Pit (58)
61. Andrew MacDonald, NYI (63)
62. Dmitry Kulikov, Fla (62)
63. Filip Kuba, Ott (75)
64. Kurtis Foster, Edm (64)
65. Francois Beauchemin, Ana (56)
66. Brett Clark, TB (69)
67. Daniel Girardi, NYR (67)
68. Zach Bogosian, Atl (70)
69. Adrian Aucoin, Pho (65)
70. Carlo Colaiacovo, StL (66)
71. Matt Niskanen, Pit (off)
72. Anton Stralman, Cls (off)
73. Mark Streit, NYI (74)
74. Jason Demers, SJ (off)
75. Pavel Kubina, TB (73)

Alex Goligoski, Stars (up two spots): Dealt from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Goligoski is now out from the shadow cast by stud Kris Letang, and finally has the chance to be the top dog on the blue line. The Dallas Stars have craved a playmaker such as Goligoski for quite some time, and the 25-year-old will get every opportunity to make a splash, particularly on special teams. Once he gets warmed up with his new squad, Goligoski could approach point-per-game production in the final weeks of the season. He's excited about the trade … and his fantasy owners should be as well.

Stephane Robidas, Stars (down three spots): You would think Robidas' fantasy value would take a fairly sound beating in light of the deal for Goligoski, but that's not the case. Not yet, anyway. Robidas should be paired with Goligoski on the Stars' top power-play unit, at least until forward Brad Richards (concussion) makes his return. If Richards sticks with the Stars, that is. The possible trade of the 30-year-old center has been a popular topic of late, and there's the potential he could be moved before Monday's deadline. It's not probable, but still possible. Until that situation sorts itself out, Robidas' fantasy value remains in limbo.

Matt Niskanen, Penguins (re-emerges at No. 71): Pegged to play alongside Letang on the Penguins' top power-play unit as long as Paul Martin is hurt (discussed below), Niskanen deserves to be in the fantasy discussion once again. Floundering production-wise with the Stars this season, Niskanen should enjoy a new lease on his career with his new team regardless. We don't expect the 24-year-old to light it up, but he should make a dent on the scoreboard here and there. And he's available in nearly all ESPN.com leagues. You could do worse.

Erik Johnson, Avalanche (up eight spots): Wishing gentle vengeance on the St. Louis Blues after they dealt him to the Colorado Avalanche, the former No.1 draft pick will play with a little extra oomph between now and April. And we fantasy owners prefer an angry Erik Johnson to a docile one. Plus, Avalanche coach Joe Sacco seems keen on using Johnson heavily on the power play. This will be a big change from the more-balanced role coach Davis Payne wanted the blueliner to perform with the Blues.

John-Michael Liles, Avalanche (up one spot): Whether he remains with the Avalanche or is dealt to a playoff contender, Liles should be considered a fantasy force once again. With four assists in his past four games, the streaky veteran's recent scoring slump can be considered over and done with.

Carlo Colaiacovo, Blues (down four spots): Alex Pietrangelo is the premiere fantasy asset on the Blues' new-look blue line, while newcomer Kevin Shattenkirk ranks as the secondary choice. That leaves the ever-delicate Colaiacovo as a low-end option, and promising youngster, Nikita Nikitin, is off the grid (for now).

Ian White, San Jose Sharks (unranked): Is White worth our attention now given his new team? No, not really. But if Dan Boyle were to sustain a serious injury, the former Hurricane could be.

Key injury notes

Marc Staal's status is iffy after the defenseman sprained his right knee Tuesday versus the Carolina Hurricanes. We don't expect him to miss much time -- if any -- though; coach John Tortorella reportedly qualifies the injury as "not that serious." In fact, Staal's fantasy owners should be far more concerned about the Rangers' alleged plans to add a blue-line bomber before the trade deadline.

• Out with an upper-body injury, Paul Martin has missed the past two contests for the Penguins. Unfortunately, there's no timetable for his return as of yet.

Erik Karlsson was a last-minute scratch for the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. He's suffering from an undisclosed upper-body injury. Stay tuned.

• Out for more than a week because of a lower-body injury, Sergei Gonchar is expected to return to the Senators' lineup Saturday.

• The Phoenix Coyotes have placed Ed Jovanovski on injured reserve because of a fractured orbital bone. Don't expect to see any more of the veteran for the rest of the regular season.

• According to Josh Cooper of The Tennessean, Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz expects Ryan Suter (upper-body injury) back in the lineup versus the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. Suter sat for Tuesday's loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Bryan McCabe appears fresh after missing nearly a month because of a broken jaw. Whether he remains with the Florida Panthers or is dealt to a contender before Monday's trade deadline, the veteran defenseman should provide plenty of fantasy bite moving forward.

Power-play performers

The Minnesota Wild welcomed back Marek Zidlicky following a nearly two-month absence because of a severe shoulder injury. Entrenched again on the squad's top power-play unit, Zidlicky earned an assist with the man-advantage in his third game back against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. As long as he stays fit, that should be the first of many points for the offensive-defenseman between now and early April. Brent Burns, who did a fairly admirable job on special teams in Zidlicky's absence, no longer has the same hefty fantasy value as he did a couple weeks ago.

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