Week 2 - Free Agents and Trade Targets

 

The NHL season is underway!  Every team has played at least 3 games and some as many as 6.  Not much on a percentage basis, but it does start giving us a better idea regarding line combinations, PP time, etc.  This is my favorite time of the year.  I can see the early returns on my draft pick investments, and, if I miscalculated, a shrewd early season roster move can pay huge dividends.

A few of last week's recommendations were heavily added (Jason Pominville (91%), Jordan Staal (75%), and Ian White (70%).  If for some reason any of these players are still available in your league, consider adding them now. 

A few others are still under-owned (Mikhail Grabovski (38%), Vaclav Prospal (49%), Travis Hamonic (45%), and Devan Dubnyk (7%).  See updates on them below. 

NEW names will also be provided for your consideration.  Let's check the Week 2 recs...

Left Wings


Commonly owned LWs worth adding:  Nikolai Kulemin, Maple Leafs (88%); Evander Kane, Jets (82%).

Vaclav Prospal, Blue Jackets -  See last week's post. 
Talent + linemates + opportunity = an excellent add.

Availability: Owned in 49% of leagues (up from 30% last week)
Update: Prospal has 5 points in 5 games so far this season (3+2). 
He's not a point per game player anymore, but could register 60 points given his talent level and outstanding situation. 
Add or trade for him now--he won't remain under the radar for long.


Steve Ott, Stars - A former 1st round pick, Ott has more talent than some may think.  Ott has averaged 18 goals over the past 3 seasons, and this season looks to have more responsibility on a top scoring line with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson.  20+ goals is definitely possible, PLUS he's a PIMs monster (3 yr. avg. of 157).

Availability: Owned in 20% of leagues.
Forecast:  Ott should be rostered by any owner seeking his rare mix of high PIMs + decent point production.


Alexander Steen, Blues
- Steen has averaged 22 goals and 49 points the past 2 seasons with the Blues.  A head injury to Andy McDonald, who has an unfortunate history of concussions, could bump Steen up the food chain and lead to increased scoring opportunities.  Even from the 3rd line, Steen is off to a hot start:  2 goals and 2 assists in the first 4 games.  And Steen gets consistent time on the PP.
UPDATE:  Steen potted another goal tonight, and was 5th among forwards in PP TOI.

Availability: Owned in 9% of leagues.
Forecast:   Steen is a good player in his own right, and may make even more sense as a speculative play on the length of McDonald's absence from the lineup.

Deep league specials (owned in a small % of leagues):

Max Pacioretty
(6%) - Was featured last week and did not disappoint. 
Max has 4 points in 4 games (2 + 2) and 18 SOG.

Daniel Carcillo (3%) - "Carbomb" is currently lining up with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa a la Steve Downie on TB's scoring line with Stamkos and St. Louis.  He should rack up the PIMs, provide a solid +/-, and have a record year in the scoring column so long as he can keep his current line assignment.

TRADE TARGET -->>  Taylor Hall, Oilers

Hall is 100% owned, so if you want him, so you will have to deal for him.  He's off to a little bit of a slow start.  No goals yet, and EDM has only played 3 games.  Hall does, however, have 3 assists, 12 SOGs, and appears to have instant chemistry with fellow phenom Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  Interestingly, Hall's rookie #s compare favorable to Stamkos's:

                  GP    G     A     PPG
Stamkos    79    23   23     9
Hall             65   22    20     8

No one expects Hall to produce the lofty #s that Stamkos did in his sophmore campaign:  51 goals, 44 assists, 95 points, and 24 PPGs.  But the reasoning I keep hearing -- that Stamkos has better linemates (primarily St. Louis) -- would have also applied to their rookie seasons.  If you can find an impatient owner and acquire Hall at a reasonable price he's got terrific upside.

 

Centres


Commonly owned Cs worth adding:  Dave Bolland, Blackhawks (90%); Jordan Staal, Penguins (75%).


Mikhail Grabovski, Maple Leafs - See last week's post.
Grabovski's ownership is actually down--9%.  That's just silly.

Availability: Owned in 38% of leagues.
Forecast:  Grabovski should be owned in all formats.  Look for him to equal or better last year's output.

Jason Arnott, Blues - Arnott potted 33 goals as recently as 08-09, and he did it on an offensively challenged Predators team.  He's struggled with injuries and adapting to new teams (Nashville to Washington to New Jersey to St. Louis), but may have found a home with the Blues.  Arnott has 4 points in 4 games (2 + 2).  UPDATE:  Arnott had an assist in tonight's game, so it is now 5 points in 5 games.

Availability:  Owned in 37% of leagues.
Forecast:  Arnott should be rostered in all deep leagues.  In shallower leagues, you may want to put him on your watch list and see if can continue his hot streak.  He has quality linemates in Steen and D'Agostini, so his outlook is good.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers - Wow.  RNH exploded for the HT last night.  He appears to have great chemistry with fellow #1 overall pick and speed demon Taylor Hall.  4 goals, 2 PPGs, and 9 SOG in 3 games is going to make it hard, if not impossible, for EDM to send him down.

Availability: Owned in 28% of leagues.
Forecast:  RNH should be owned in all leagues.

Luke Adam, Sabres - Adam graduates from a "deep league special" last week to being fully featured this week.  Adam garnered a plum assignment centering the Sabres #1 line between Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville and has not disappointed with 6 points (3 + 3) in 4 games.  He may not retain the 1C role all season, but so far so good, and the Sabres have a lot of talent in the Top 9 even if he does get bumped down a line or two.

Availability: Owned in 19% of leagues.
Forecast:  Ride Adam while he is hot and/or at least as long as he is in Buffalo's Top 6.

Deep league specials (owned in a small % of leagues):

Craig Smith (8%) - Was featured last week.  Has 4 points in 4 games (2 + 2), and is clearly one of the Predators top 6 forwards.  That said, Trotz demoted him to the 3rd line last night.  No idea what's going on there.  Probably sending the rookie a message.  Monitor.

Matt Cullen, Wild (3%) - Minnesota's 2C, Cullen leads the team in goals in the early going with 3. 

Martin Hanzal, Coyotes (1%) - Phoenix's 2C, Hanzal has 3 points in 4 games (including 2 PPPs).

 

TRADE TARGET -->>  Patrick Berglund, Blues

Berglund is 100% owned, so you know the drill.  He has a respectable 3 points (1 + 2) in 4 games, but I expect significantly more from him this season.  Berglund plays on what the Blues dub their number two line, but it is the de facto #1 line with Stewart and Oshie on his wings.  The injury to McDonald has forced a shuffling of lines.  Sobotka has taken Oshie's place, and that's a downgrade, but the fact remains that the Blues are giving Berglund 1C priority -- including a role on the #1 PP unit.

Berglund enters his "magical" 4th season with the Blues.  He posted 52 points last year (22 + 30), and most, including myself, consider that his floor this season.  If about 30 goals and 60+ points is better than a player on your roster that can be used to acquire Berglund, send out an offer sheet.

UPDATE:  Berglund scored a goal tonight and was 2nd among forwards in PP TOI.


Right Wings


Commonly owned RWs worth adding:  Jason Pominville, Sabres (91%); Kyle Okposo, Islanders (80%).

Wayne Simmonds, Flyers - Simmonds saw his ice time decreased by over a minute per game last year in LA, but the year before he had 40 points and 116 PIMs.  The Flyers have welcomed him with a spot on Briere's wing and on their #1 PP unit.  Those assignments appear to be his to lose, and it is looking like he'll stick.

Availability: Owned in 62% of leagues.
Forecast:  Look for a career year:  40+ points and >100 PIMs.

Joffrey Lupul, Leafs -  Lupul has struggled with injuries the past few years.  His last full season was 2008-09, when he posted 50 points (25 + 25) with the Flyers.  Lupul has a lock on the 1RW slot next to the scorching hot Phil Kessel and has opened the season similarly hot with 5 points (3 + 2) in just 3 games.

Availability: Owned in 39% of leagues.
Forecast:
  Lupul should be owned in all deep leagues, and is definitely worthy of a look in shallower leagues, too.  Currently ranked 7th at RW.  That won't last, but Lupul could be a solid producer for your team.

Kris Versteeg, Panthers -  Versteeg landed on the #1 line in FLA and is seeing prime PP time, too.  3 points (1 + 2) in 3 games, so...so far, so good.

Availability: Owned in 23% of leagues.
Forecast:
  Versteeg should be owned in all deep leagues, and should be on your watch list in shallower leagues.

Deep league specials (owned in a small % of leagues):

Rich Peverley (9%) - Peverley has a 55 point season with the Thrashers, and is in a better situation now with the Bruins where he is a fixture at 2RW on a line with Bergeron and Marchand.  He's also seeing time on the #1 PP unit.  With Krejci out due to injury, Peverley is in no danger of seeing his role reduced anytime soon.

P.A. Parenteau (3%) - Parenteau scored 53 points last year (20 + 33) playing primarily on a line with Tavares and Moulson.  Although many seem to think he doesn't "belong" there, P.A. just keeps producing.  This year, he is back on the #1 line, the #1 PP, and is off to a fast start:  7 points (1 + 6) in 4 games, +5, 4 PIMs, and 2 PPPs.  Ride him while he's hot.

David Clarkson (1%) - Clarkson is a 3rd liner who will provide a healthy dose of PIMs.  He has 26 PIMs already this season--in just 4 games.  He has averaged 154 PIMs/year over his last 3 full seasons.  The kicker with Clarkson is that he is also seeing #1 PP unit time.  He has a 17 goal season under his belt, so somewhere in that ballpark with a bunch of PIMs is likely.

TRADE TARGET -->>  Brian Gionta, Canadiens

Gionta is nearly 100% owned.  As Captain of the Canadiens he plays in every important situation and is a threat to score 30 goals on 300 SOGs (last year he had 29 goals on 298 SOGs). 

He started slowly this season with zero points in his first 3 games.  That's when I put him on this list.  Last night, however, he went off for 3 points (1 + 2), so now you may have to pay a little more, but my sense is that he's still being undervalued. 

While it is true that he is no longer a 48-goal, 89 point player (the #s he posted in 2005-06 with New Jersey), those numbers are indicative of his high skill level.



Defencemen


Commonly owned Defencemen worth adding:  Marc Staal, Rangers (83%); Ian White, Red Wings (70%).

Travis Hamonic, Islanders - Hamonic burst (quietly) onto the scene last year with 26 points in just 62 games (a 34-point pace) and rang up a gaudy 103 PIMs.

Availability: Owned in 45% of leagues.
Forecast:  His ice time is up nearly a full minute, to 22:23, so look for similar #s:  at least 30 points and 100 PIMs.  If that combination will help you, add 'em!

Dennis Wideman, Capitals - A deadline day acquisition for GMGM, Wideman scored 10 goals and 30 assists last year splitting time between Florida and Washington.  Needless to say, his supporting cast in Washington is more potent.  He is getting #1 PP time with Mike Green, Backstrom, and Ovechkin.  Good work if you can get it.  So far, Wideman has 4 points in 4 games (2 + 2), including the GWG in OT in Pittsburgh.

Availability: Owned in 29% of leagues.
Forecast:
Wideman should be owned in virtually all formats.  Although the blueline in Washington is somewhat crowded, Wideman appears to be getting prime opportunites and abundant TOI -- 21:28 on average.  If that continues there is no reason he cannot challenge his career best of 50 points (13 + 37).  He's off to a good start.

Sami Salo, Canucks - Christian Ehrhoff's departure has created increased opportunities for a few of Vancouver's blueliners--esp. Alexander Edler and Sami Salo.  Salo gets dinged for his lack of durability, but this is hockey and some of his injuries have been of the freak variety.  Most years he'll give you 65 games and about 35 points.

Availability: Owned in 7% of leagues.
Forecast:  Salo should be owned in virtually all leagues.
With an increased role and more PP time he could post 35+ points--with about 1/2 being PPPs.  
Salo is off to a strong start with 4 points (2 + 2) in 5 games, 2 PPPs, +4, and 13 SOGs. 
He is currently the #6 ranked defenceman in this format.  Wow.

Deep league specials (owned in a small % of leagues):

Nick Leddy
(4%) -  See last week's post. 
Still paired with Duncan Keith and getting PP time.  Leddy has 2 points (1 + 1) in 4 games.

Kyle Quincey (2%) - Quincey is seeing PP time, sometimes on the #1 unit.  When healthy, which has been a while, he's capable of 30+ points.  In 5 games this season he has 2 points (1 + 1), 10 PIMs, and 16 SOG.

Yannick Weber (3%) - With injuries along Montreal's blueline, Weber has seen his ice time increase in each game so far this season.  He has 2 points (1 + 1) in 4 games so far to go along with 4 PIMs and 10 SOGs.

 

TRADE TARGET -->>  Dan Boyle, Sharks

The Sharks have played the fewest number of games so far this season (3), and Boyle has started slow -- just one point (an assist) in 3 games.  Yet he is still on the #1 PP unit and leads the Sharks in ATOI with 26:38.  By comparison, Burns ATOI is 20:58.  I still like Burns a great deal, but rumors of Boyle's demise have been exaggerated.  He has 3 consecutive 50 point seasons, and should reach that lofty plateau once again this season.

 

Goaltenders


Commonly owned Gs worth adding: Al Montoya, Islanders (92%).

Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche - Varly is making believers out of Avs fans very, very quickly.  In 4 starts so far this year he has 3 wins, a 2.17 GAA, and .938 save %.  There are questions about his durability, but not his job security.  And Colorado's D does appear to be improved this season.

Availability: Owned in 60% of leagues.
Forecast:  Varlamov should be owned in all formats.  Look for 35 wins and solid ratios.

Cory Schneider, Canucks Here we go again.  Lu is struggling out of the gate (only 1 win in 3 starts, a 3.60 GAA, and .871 save %).  Meanwhile, Schneider is Steady Eddy:  2.03 GAA and .935 save %.   I don't like Lu's mental fortitude.  Just don't.  Traded him in the one league right before the start of the season.  I DO like Cory's, though.  Which makes me wonder if the Canucks brass and/or coaching staff is thinking the same thing...?

Availability: Owned in 6% of leagues.
Forecast:
Schneider should be owned in all daily leagues, and possibly as a speculative play in weekly leagues.  He will receive at least 20 starts, and they will be of the high quality variety.  If either he or Luongo is traded, his value will jump. 

Deep league specials (owned in a small % of leagues):

Johan Hedberg, Devils (9%) - "Moose" has 3 wins in 3 GP and a sparkling 1.41 GAA and .945 save %.  He was already slated to receive about 20 starts, but with Brodeur's injury, that will rise.  Frankly, I think Brodeur may be nearing the end.  The play on which he hurt himself was pretty sad.  That just doesn't happen to a well-conditioned and/or younger athlete.  A bit speculative, but if you have the roster space -- or if you want to back up Brodeur -- Hedberg is your man.

Devan Dubnyk, Oilers (7%) - See last week's post. 
Dubnyk has acquitted himself well thus far.  In just two appearances, he has one win, and a respectable 2.43 GAA and .917 save %.  He will win the "competition" with Khabby.

 

TRADE TARGET -->>  Tomas Vokoun, Capitals

Wow, not the way he envisioned his Caps debut.  Vokoun got shelled in his inaugural outing, allowing 5 goals on just 28 shots, but he did shut the door in the 3rd, and shined in OT where his high-octane offense bailed him out.  Nonetheless, that left a lot of Vokoun owners skittish.

Even with his less than spectacular start, Vokoun has 3 wins in 3 appearances, a 2.57 GAA, and .922 save %.  Those ratios should only continue to improve from here.  He is 100% owned, of course, and was ranked in the Top 3 pre-draft by most prognosticators.  He is still a very high quality option between the pipes.

The door is probably open just a crack, but this may be as good as gets this season if you hope to acquire Vokoun via trade.



Now check your wire, good luck, and enjoy the games!

 

NOTES:
*Availability data from ESPN leagues.
**
Player analyses are based on their projected value in standard scoring categories:  Goals, Assists, Power Play Points, Shots on Goal, Plus/Minus, Penalty Minutes, and Average Time on Ice.

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