Minute Munchers

Identifying large jumps in TOI amongst notable defenseman in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season and how these fluctuations can be used to our advantage in fantasy and DFS.

One of my favourite parts about fantasy drafts is finding the late-round defenseman that make an impact on your team from the start of the season to the finish. Names this year such as Rasmus Andersson and Matt Grzelcyk are a couple that I targeted this season and look promising so far. Grzelcyk, although he has been injured twice now, has shown great signs when he has played this year. A big reason as to why these defenseman were on my radar was due to the expectation that they would see more minutes whether on the power play or at 5-on-5. In this article I’ll take a look at some of the largest jumps this season in minutes played and what kind of value the player has for us in season-long leagues as well as daily fantasy sports.

Mario Ferraro:

Ferraro is a somewhat surprising sophomore on the Sharks. A second rounder in 2017, Ferraro played in 61 games last season as a rookie. With aging veterans like Burns, Vlasic and even Erik Karlsson, there is plenty of opportunity to take hold of a role on the Sharks’ blue line and run with it. Ferraro is currently the lone defenseman on the sharks PP2, which is a great sign for him. Even-strength, Ferraro plays with Brent Burns who is also averaging a whopping 28:14 this season. With these two playing together you can expect to see them on

Credit: The Athletic

the ice the most out of any pairing. The offense has not quite been there for Ferraro, nor has it been there for him in college (14 points in 41 games with UMass-Amherst in 2018-19), but if the 20+ minute games continue, I can see the assist total rising. The other factor to be aware of is Erik Karlsson’s injury history. If EK goes down at all this season, Ferraro would likely be a candidate to move onto PP1, where the Sharks go to work in the shot category. I do not own Ferraro in any leagues and I do not plan on picking him up, however I believe he is a great value defenseman in DraftKings providing hits and plenty of ice time.

Zach Whitecloud:

Similar to Ferraro, Whitecloud is another defenseman in his second year taking advantage of his increase in ice time. Vegas has been running on a 5-man defense system often this season and it only benefits the ones who do crack the lineup. When people think of defenseman on the Golden Knights, Theodore and Pietrangelo are the two that usually come to mind. Whitecloud has flown under the radar ever since he signed as an undrafted free agent out of Bemidji State (NCAA). In terms of fantasy value, there is little reason to pick up Whitecloud. He is currently blocked on both power plays by the big guns and even Alec Martinez is seeing PP2 time over Whitecloud. He does a job on Vegas which includes killing penalties and playing a defense-first game. Whitecloud led his team in blocked shots at college and has brought a similar style to the NHL. He can be a sneaky DFS play if you need a cheap D. As a third-pair defenseman, he has seen the most action alongside Alec Martinez and Brayden McNabb, both of whom are not offensive players, but all Whitecloud combos have a good to great expected goals for (xGF) total. Whitecloud has arguably the best mentors with him in Vegas, so while he may not project as a top-pair, stud defenseman, I can see him turning into a comparable to Alex Goligoski or Matt Niskanen, if he is not already one.

Kevin Shattenkirk:

This was the player I was most excited to talk about and probably what gave me the idea for this article. Shattenkirk will be 32 years old in a couple of days and his best offensive days are likely behind him, but that doesn’t mean he is irrelevant in DFS. Shattenkirk was an unheralded signing by the Ducks this past offseason and shocked a lot of people by being given the opportunity that they have. Yes, Josh Manson is on IR, but Shattenkirk is seeing the most minutes he has ever seen in his career right now. The production is not there yet (to my surprise) as Anaheim is not scaring anyone yet with their offense and they are currently 0-12 on the PP. I can’t see Shattenkirk taking the hit from that slow start. It will likely be some forward changes for the Ducks if they want to improve their PP efficiency. FantasyPuck loves TOI as indicators for value defenseman in DFS and for someone like Shattenkirk, who has accumulated over 300 points in his career, the assists will come if the ice time continues to be high.

Adam Fox:

If you read this article with the intention of finding some defenseman to target in fantasy leagues, here you go. I’m noticing a common theme here. Sophomore defenseman. Unlike Ferraro and Whitecloud, Fox was a big name last season when he put up 42 points in his rookie season and finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting. Last season, it appeared the Rangers had a plethora of young, elite defensemen. Tony DeAngelo and Jacob Trouba joined Fox in helping the Rangers make the playoffs and provide fans a glimmer of hope after several trades and rebuilding months. This season, DeAngelo has been scratched more than he has played, Trouba does not have a point at the time of writing this article, so

Credit: Elite Sports NY

Rangers fans have only Fox to rely on. Thankfully, he has been living up to expectations. I cannot see a sophomore slump in Fox’s future this season. Already with 4 points in 4 games, Fox appears to be not only the top defenseman in New York, but is quickly becoming one of the top D in the league. At only 22 years old, there is still room for improvement defensively which I am sure the Rangers would welcome and emphasize for Fox as their goaltending situation was somewhat of a question mark going into this season. I am kicking myself for not being higher on Fox during my fantasy drafts, but is definitely someone I am planning to target, even if he is not a buy low target yet. Fox quarterbacks the PP1 for New York and has no intention of losing that role. A power play unit featuring Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and hopefully Alexis Lafreniere soon, should make Adam Fox fantasy owners salivate.

Thanks for reading another FP Don article. I hope I enlightened you on a couple of names to keep an eye on in DFS and fantasy leagues.

-FP Don

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