In the world of fantasy hockey, getting an elite defenseman is quite pricey to draft and trade for. All you have to do is look at the stats and see how much of a drop off it is between the D1 to D2 to D3 and D4. But like any other fantasy sport, the victory doesn't come from just the draft alone, it's how you manage the team as well. In this case, there's one particular defenseman that may be in your FA pool you might want to make a gamble on as your D3/D4. He's Cam Fowler, rookie defenseman of the Anaheim Ducks.
More after the jump...
Cam Fowler was drafted 12th overall by the Ducks last year. From 2009-10, he played for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL so that it would better prepare him for the NHL. Not sure what he was trying to prove because there's no doubt he's got a bright future ahead with the way he performed. He was one of the best defenseman in offensive stats in the OHL making 55 points (8 goals, 47 assists) in 55 games. That's right, he was at a point per game production in the OHL as a defenseman. He was considered one of the top North American players along with Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin coming into the draft so him falling to 12th overall is a surprise, especially to the Ducks. In player development, some have compared him to the likes of Chris Pronger and Dion Phaneuf but a more appropriate comparison is Scott Niedermayer since he's not as big and burly as Pronger and Phaneuf but still as offensively talented as the rest of them.
Playing time was never an issue with Cam since he's done quite well with the work load that's been given to him already. He's been averaging about 18 minutes of Even Strength ice time and an amazing 3 1/2 minutes of Power Play time. The Ducks clearly trust his ability to quarterback the offense so should you. Like any rookie, he's going to have his dry spells and even have some terrible nights of -3 or so games but his upside is clearly there to produce at D2 levels and maybe low D1 in the next year or two.
The concern lately has been exactly what we previously discussed: his playing time. Some are concern that he won't be use to the strain of the work for the next three months left in the season and it's certainly a legitimate concern since he did only play 55 games last year and shorter seasons before that. If it comes to a point where the workload becomes too much for the young player to bear when he's not showing up on the score sheet, don't be surprised if the Ducks either cut into his playing to get him more rest down the stretch or even occasionally bench him once the Ducks get close to locking up a playoff spot.
For someone that has the upside that matches that of Niedermayer, there's no reason to believe that he should be sitting in your FA pool if he's available. He's likely already drafted or picked up in keeper or dynasty formats since his name was likely well know in those kind of leagues. Overall, he may not land you many goals because he doesn't shoot very much but he can give you a lot of assists and power play points (but not so much if only use power play goals). He won't help you with you +/- since he is only a rookie and will have to learn how to defend his own along with flexing his offensive skills over time. If you do plan on picking him up, keep track of his playing time and how he's been doing on a per game basis. If production and/or playing time starts trending downward, it may be time to find better options since the less time he's on the ice, the less chance he's going to help you out later on in the season.