Week 20 - Free Agents and Trade Targets

"The rumors of my death have been exaggerated." Well, mostly, sort of. Sorry for being out of pocket recently. I was praying at the porcelain altar, hallucinating more than Terence McKenna, and generally just "not right." Fixed now.

For this week's "Free Agents and Trade Targets" we are scouring the ESPN wire. Damn! It has definitely thinned out over the course of the season.

Many of our in-season recommendations have been scooped up: Evander Kane, Matt Moulson, Max Pacioretty, Gabriel Landeskog, David Perron, Jordan Staal, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mike Fisher, Jason Pominville, Wayne Simmonds, T.J. Oshie, Steve Downie, Blake Wheeler, P.A. Parenteau, Carl Hagelin, Ian White, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Goligoski, Dennis Wideman, Brian Elliott, Kari Lehtonen, Tuukka Rask, and Evgeni Nabokov.

Other recs haven't fared as well: Chris Stewart, Patrik Berglund, Brandon Dubinsky, Mikko Koivu, Dave Bolland, Kyle Okposo, Justin Williams, Marc Staal, Stefan Elliott, Tyler Myers, James Reimer, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Michal Neuvirth.

Let's see who might be available to bolster your roster for a Cup run...

Left Wings

Variously owned LWs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade:
David Perron (95%), Alex Tanguay (89%), Mike Cammalleri (85%), David Booth (30%), Todd Bertuzzi (23%), Clarke MacArthur (18%), Sean Bergenheim (7%), Ryan Malone (5%), Justin Abdelkader (>1%).

Carolina Hurricanes Jiri Tlusty, LW

He's playing with Eric Staal. Both ES and PP. Over his last 10 games, Tlusty has 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists), a +9 rating, 2 PPPs, and 19 SOGs. This is a deeper cut than usual for the first recommendation, but he's red hot.

Availability: Owned in 16% of leagues.
Forecast: Watch his line assignment and PP time, but so long as he's riding shotgun with Staal, Tlusty can be a cheap source of production for those in deeper leagues.

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

Pittsburgh Penguins Matt Cooke, LW

Hockey's Most Hated Player (thanks to overreactive media nitwits)! Matt Cooke reformed his game this season and the turnaround is nothing short of miraculous. Last year, he posted 129 PIMs. This year, in almost the same number of games, he only has 26 PIMs. Not great for fantasy, but it is translating into increased offensive production.

Availability: Owned in 4% of leagues.
Forecast: Over his last 5 games, Cooke has 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists), a +3 rating, 6 PIMs, 2 PPPs, and 12 SOGs. He can't continue at that rate, but he's hot, has some offensive ability, is getting PP time, and is widely available.

Centres

Variously owned Cs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade:
Mike Fisher (93%), Derek Roy (88%), David Desharnais (69%).

Winnipeg Jets Bryan Little, C

Little continues to man the 1C slot on the division leading Winnipeg Jets. After a slow start, he has 18 goals on the season. Over his last 5 games he has 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists), a +3 rating, 2 PPPs, and 13 SOGs.

Availability: Owned in 68% of leagues.
Forecast: Little is on pace for 26 goals and just under 50 points. He should maintain or perhaps slightly better that rate of output from here on out (his start was pretty poor). That's not bad for a guy available in nearly 1 of 3 leagues.

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

Phoenix CoyotesMartin Hanzal, C

Hanzal, again. Sorry folks, just not much on the wire at centre-only. And to be fair, he's done quite well recently. Over his last 3 games, Hanzal has 5 points (all apples), a +3 rating and 2 PPPs.

Availability: Owned in 14% of leagues.
Forecast: The Coyotes added Antoine Vermette to handle 2C duties, and that should help Hanzal as opposing defences now have two legit lines about which to be concerned. Hanzal is still getting #1 PP minutes and he's got 2 of the 3 best wingers on his regular line in Whitney and Vrbata. It is a good situation. Just temper expectations.

Right Wings

Variously owned RWs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade:
David Clarkson (89%), Teddy Purcell (80%), Steve Downie (65%), Chris Stewart (57%), Devin Setoguchi (55%), Derek Dorsett (12%).

Buffalo Sabres Drew Stafford, RW

Last year, Stafford was a monster free agent pick-up posting 31 goals in just 62 games. This year, the sniper is on a less prolific pace, but he's picked it up lately. Over his last 5 games, Stafford has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists), a +3 rating, 1 PPP, and 13 SOGs.

Availability: Owned in 34% of leagues.
Forecast: He's still mostly on the 2nd line, but he gets prime PP minutes. Always a streaky scorer, he could be at the beginning of a momentous streak.

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

Colorado Avalanche David Jones, RW

Jones will be an unrestricted on July 1st, and is the subject of several trade rumors. That said, I don't expect any change to appreciably boost his output. He's been doing just fine lately, thank you. Over his last 10 games, Jones has 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) a +6 rating, and 18 SOGs. That's crazy good output for a player available in >90% of leagues.

Availability: Owned in 8% of leagues.
Forecast: Jones potted 27 goals last season, so he's capable of maintaining a decent scoring clip the rest of the way.

Defencemen

Variously owned D-men worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade:
James Wisniewski (81%), Tyler Myers (77%), Victor Hedman (60%), Stephane Robidas (33%), Marc Staal (30%), Ryan Whitney (30%).

Colorado Avalanche Erik Johnson, D

This guy gets no respect. He's only 23 years old. Defencemen typically don't start to blossom until this age. Johnson is on pace for 35 points (his career high is 39 -- and he has a shot at beating that). Lately, not including the one game he missed due to injury (back), over the last 6 games, Johnson has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists), a +3 rating, 2 PPPs, and 13 SOGs. Really stout from the blueline.

Availability: Owned in 74% of leagues.
Forecast: Projects as 35-40 point pace from now until season's end. That's useful in most formats.

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

Carolina Hurricanes Justin Faulk, D

The rookie is seeing BIG minutes. 22:41 on average. over 28 tonight versus the Panthers. Over his last 8 games, Faulk has 5 points (3 goals, 2 points), 4 PPPs, and 16 SOGs.

Availability: Owned in 14% of leagues.
Forecast: He's on pace for 29 points, but the rate at which he's scoring and the opportunities he's receiving are both increasing. Look for 30-35+ pace the rest of the way.

Goaltenders

Variously owned Gs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade:
Evgeni Nabokov (82%), Tuukka Rask (53%), Cory Schneider (42%), Josh Harding (7%), Jonathan Bernier (6%).

Colorado Avalanche Semyon Varlamov, G

Recommended in this space multiple times before. I like Varlamov's talent level. Injuries are always the main concern, but he's healthy now and makes a good add down the stretch. Rumor has it that teams are interested in Giguere (including, gulp, Philadelphia!), but even if "Giggy" is not moved, Varlamov is the #1 for the Avs.

Availability: Owned in 62% of leagues.
Forecast: He's been sensational. Over his last 6 games, Varly has thrown down a 1.84 GAA and .938 Save%. Ride him while he's hot. Also, I'm not exactly predicting it, but I could definitely see the Avs moving Giguere. They have good organizational depth with Cedrick Desjardins in the A. Either way, I expect a greater workload for Varly going forward.

Edmonton Oilers Devan Dubnyk, G

Double D is still struggling with consistency, however, over his last 3 games he has 2 wins and sparkling ration -- a 1.33 GAA and .948 Save% -- plus one shutout.

Availability: Owned in 8% of leagues.
Forecast: Dubnyk finished last year strong, and I expect more of the same from his this year.

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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