Defense can be a tricky thing in fantasy hockey. Sure, you know the annual elite at the position, the Chris Prongers, Scott Niedermayers and Nicklas Lidstroms, but for a lot of owners, those final starting spots can be a real pain to fill. Defensemen as a whole can be a shaky bunch, with the lower tiers for fantasy constantly changing as injuries create new opportunities for some players, and others ride hot streaks into more critical scoring roles.
It's never a bad idea to keep a spot or two at the back end of your defensive lineup to pick up a hot hand, since a few hidden gems seem to surface each season. If you're looking thin on the blue line today, take a look at the following 10 players, each of whom has stepped up as an interesting short-term option, perhaps with even better long-term potential:
Francois Beauchemin, Ducks: If this name sounds familiar to you, it should. Beauchemin was one of the two players Anaheim acquired in the November 2005 Sergei Fedorov trade, and in 97 games since then, he has 12 goals and 46 points, 19 of which have come on the power play. Of course, Beauchemin had more of an offensive role on last season's Ducks team, before Chris Pronger came along, but he still seems to have the skills for a 10-goal, 30-point season with decent contributions on the power play. And if you're looking for that kind of player to round out your defensive corps, you'd be much better off with one on a team as strong as Anaheim's, where plus/minus shouldn't be a problem.