Week 9 - Free Agents and Trade Targets

David Perron #57 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates a goal with teammates. He's also got to be psyched that "The 'Cock" gave him over 5 minutes of PP last night.

Welcome back, David Perron!

Hope you picked him up a few weeks ago when he was first rec'd here as a sneaky stash. He missed 97 games (concussion) -->> more even than the much ballyhooed Sidney Crosby. Then he scored a goal on his 2nd shift back. Awesome. Just awesome.

This week, all waiver wire recommendations come in 2s: At RW, we've got two truculent PIM monsters, at LW we've got two scorers returning from scary injuries, at C we've got two young players in search of consistency, at D we've got two rookies, and at G we've got two Russians...

Right Wings

Commonly owned RWs worth adding: Chris Stewart, Blues (71%), Erik Cole, Canadiens (65%), Michael Ryder, Stars (55%), Cal Clutterbuck, Wild (23%).

Tampa Bay LightningSteve Downie, RW

Downie missed three games due to an upper body injury before returning last night. He lined up with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, and received 2nd unit PP time. Niiiice. Oh, and he scored a goal, too. But that's not why you should consider adding him. Downie is someone you add primarily for PIMs. Over the past 3 seasons, he's averaged a whopping 2.72 PIMs/game -- that's 200+ over a full season. The fact that he plays with elite talents and garners signficant PP time is just tasty gravy.

Availability: Owned in 26% of leagues.
Forecast: Should be rostered in all leagues with an emphasis on PIMs. Regarding scoring, over the past two seasons Downie has averaged a not-too-shabby 0.57 points/game. Given that, expect about 30 points from here on out, and gobs of PIMs.

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

Ottawa SenatorsChris Neil, RW

Another truculent dude that just returned to the lineup. Neil (ankle) missed 9 games, and was dropped by quite a few owners during his hiatus. He doesn't field a Top 6 assignment or a regular PP role, but he has been chipping in from the 3rd line with a decent 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in the first 17 games. Over the past 3 seasons, he's averaged 2.66 PIMs/game -- that's 200+ in a full season.

Availability: Owned in 5% of leagues.
Forecast: Should be rostered by owners in search of PIMs who also want enough scoring to not feel dirty about it.

Centres

Commonly owned Centres worth adding: Matt Read, Flyers (68%), Bryan Little, Jets (47%), Craig Smith, Predators (47%), Mikhail Grabovski, Maple Leafs (25%).

St Louis Blues Patrik Berglund, C

Coming off a career best 52 points (22 goals, 30 assists) last season and then dominating at the World Championships in May, this hasn't been the season most envisioned for the 23 y.o. Swede . Berglund has elite level talent, but, like many young playlers, struggles with consistency.

Availability: Owned in 38% of leagues.
Forecast: Berglund has 3 points in his last 3 games (plus a goal in the SO last night) and, like the Blues overall, seems to be turning his season around. He has quality linemates in Chris Stewart and, now, David Perron, and is 3rd among forwards on the Blues in PP ATOI. Add him if you need help down the middle and hope his combination of talent + opportunity catches fire.

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

Edmonton OilersSam Gagner, C

Gagner had a very good training camp but a high ankle injury forced him to miss six games and it took him a while to get back up to speed. With 6 points in last 7 games, and a role in Edmonton's Top 6 (at least for now), he appears to have turned the corner.

Availability: Owned in 0.9% of leagues.
Forecast: Gagner makes for a good add in very deep leagues for as long as he stays hot.

Left Wings

Commonly owned LWs worth adding: Steve Ott, Stars (93%), Brenden Morrow, Stars (55%), Matt Moulson, Islanders (31%), Tuomo Ruutu, Hurricanes (29%).

St Louis BluesDavid Perron, LW

He's back! A 1st round pick in 2007, Perron posted 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 2009-2010, his last full season of play. As noted above, Perron scored a goal on his second shift back after an extremely lengthy absence (concussion). He also led the entire team with 5:08 on the PP (Shattenkirk was second with 4:27) last night.

Availability: Owned in 17% of leagues.
Forecast: Over a full season, Perron has 30-goal potential. He was off to a fast start last season with 5 goals in 10 games before getting thumped by Joe Thornton. Counting last night, that's 6 markers in his last 11 games. Perron probably has the most pure scoring upside of any player owned in 20% of leagues or less.

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

Vancouver CanucksMason Raymond, LW

Raymond suffered a scary vertebrae compression fracture in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on a questionable hit by Johnny Boychuk. It's been a long six months, but he is set to return tonight. Raymond will undoubtedly be a bit rusty and will also have to earn his way into a Top 6 role, but will be joining an elite forward corps in Vancouver.

Availability: Owned in 1% of leagues.
Forecast: Raymond scored 92 points (40 goals, 52 assists) over his last two seasons in the NHL, so he has talent, and makes for a good speculative add in deeper leagues.

Defencemen

Commonly owned Ds worth adding: Kevin Bieksa, Canucks (93%), Michael Del Zotto, Rangers (72%), Zach Bogosian, Jets (52%).

New Jersey DevilsAdam Larsson, D

The #4 overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, Larsson landed in an absolutely ideal situation in New Jersey. The Devils had dire need for a PP quarterback, and have given Larsson more than 2x the minutes on the PP than any other rearguard on the team.

Availability: Owned in 15% of leagues.
Forecast: With 6 points in his last 8 games, Larsson is heating up. Look for close to a half point per game average from here on out. If that'll help your D corps, sign him to your squad.

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

Toronto Maple LeafsJake Gardiner, D

Another rookie, Gardiner was the 1st round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2008 (17th overall), and what many believed to be the centerpiece of the Francois Beauchemin deal (oops, whattabout Loops?!?). Brian Burke takes shedloads of criticism, but you've got to give him props on that one! "Gardi" was a point-per-game player in his final season at Wisconsin: 41 points in 41 games, so he's got offensive skills.

Availability: Owned in 3% of leagues.
Forecast: Gardiner has averaged 20:22 time on ice so far this season, and that has risen considerably over the past 4 games (26:04, 23:44, 25:15, and 28:34). He's a solid 3rd on the team among defencemen in PP ATOI. If Phaneuf or Liles were to go down, his value would receive a big boost.

Goaltenders

Commonly owned Gs worth adding: Jaroslav Halak, Blues (88%), Jonas Hiller, Ducks (88%), James Reimer, Maple Leafs (81%), Cory Schneider, Canucks (78%), Josh Harding, Wild (48%).

Colorado Avalanche Semyon Varlamov, G

Is "Semyon" Russian for "Jekyll and Hyde"? Varly started the season by going 5-3 in October with a sparkling .924 Save%, but his first 7 games in November were an entirely different story: an 0-7 record with a dismal .856 Save%. So why is recommended here? Good question. The theory is that he was simply overworked, and that now that Giguere is carrying some of the load, Varly will be better able to consistently play at a high level.

Availability: Owned in 63% of leagues.
Forecast: Since being spelled by Giggy a couple weeks ago, Varlamov returned to the crease to post a 3-1 record and .946 Save%.

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

Philadelphia FlyersSergei Bobrovsky, G

Philadelphia gave Bryzgalov a whopper of a contract, so they will stick with him as long as they possibly can, but let's face it, Bryz is stinking up the joint. In 18 games this year, he's barely eeked out a .900 Save% while allowing a bloated 2.83 goals/game. Meanwhile, in his last 3 outings, Bobrovsky has been exceptional in saving 79 of 82 shots he's faced -->> a .963 Save%.

Availability: Owned in 9% of leagues.
Forecast: Bobrovsky's recent strong play has earned him more starts. If Bryz keeps defiling the bed, he's in line for even more. With the goal support that the Flyers provide (they are the #1 scoring team in the NHL at 3.52 goals/game), whoever mans their crease will have substantial value.

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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