Week 1 - Free Agents and Trade Targets

They call me "The Champ." What do they call you? - Claus Andersen

The hottest players in Fantasy Hockey.

Greetings GMs!

Week 1 is in the books -- or very nearly so. 
Hope you are off to a flying start. 
If for some reason you are not, we've got some recommendations for you. 
If you are, don't rest on your laurels.  This post is for you, too.

One cautionary/prefatory/predatory note:
While it is great seeing meaningful, live action again, we need to keep in mind that only a very small fraction of the season has been played.  The smaller the sample size, the more luck plays a role.  We can learn from these games, but don't make the mistake of overextrapolating from them.  Conversely, if your league mates do just that, take advantage!

It's early, so there are a LOT of options on the wire.  Let's get to the FATTEST  post of the season!

Left Wings


Variously owned LWs worth adding (depending on the size of your league): 
Ryan O'Reilly 90%. Looking good on the wing. Possible FOWs, too.
Cory Conacher 47%. Lining up w/ Turris and MacArthur for OTT's L2.
Alex Tanguay.  Good start.  Hard to get too excited when he's on a line with Mitchell.
Mason Raymond 7%.  On fire. Great opportunity with Clarkson out.  Then?
Jamie McGinn 4%.  Playing with Parenteau and MacKinnon.
Justin Abdelkader 3%. On L1 at present with Dats and Zett
Brenden Morrow 1.8%.  Multicat contributor who will see PP time.
Clarke MacArthur 1.1%.  Top 6 for the Senators.
Ryan Malone 0.8%.  On L1 with Stamkos and St. Louis.
Matt Cooke 0.5%.  Good for about 12 goals. More Hits and PIMs in Minny.
Nathan Gerbe 0.5%.  Carolina's dearth of Fs lands little Gerbe in their Top 6.
Matt Martin 0.3%.  Strong source of Hits and PIMs.
Eric Nystrom 0.2%.  PIMs + a little of everything else.
T.J. Galiardi 0.1%.  Hot start.  On L2 in Calgary. 
Mark Arcobello 0.1%.  Sneaky source of FOWs from the LW.

Philadelphia Flyers Brayden Schenn

So I pulled up one of last season's FA&TT posts and who was the #1 recommendation at LW?  You guessed it, Brayden Schenn.  It was early February, and he was only owned in 58% of leagues at that time.  I understand that he has failed to reach his lofty post-draft expectations, but he's still VERY roster worthy.  Go get him.

Availability: Owned in 82% of leagues.

Forecast: Should be added in all but the shallowest formats.
The former 5th overall pick (2009) is a prime candidate for a breakout season -- if he continues to play with Claude Giroux, it is all but guaranteed.

Chicago Blackhawks Bryan Bickell

After an outstanding playoff run, Bickell signed a multi-year extension with the Blackhawks.  He now starts the season on L1 with Toews and Kane.  It doesn't get better than that.

Availability: Owned in 13% of leagues.

Forecast: Should be in all formats that counts hits and most others, too.

San Jose SharksTomas Hertl

Cam (and now Jay, too) are all over this guy like white on rice.  Why?  Because he's good.  And he's landed a plum assignment in San Jose playing with Thornton and Burns.

Availability: Owned in 5% of leagues.

Forecast:  Hertl is a good add in most formats.
Although most rookies struggle with consistency (expect it with Hertl, too), the Sharks remain relatively thin at forward, and Hertl should stay in the Top 6 for at least most of the season.

Montreal Canadiens Rene Bourque

Bourque battled concussion issues last season.  The year before that he struggled, was traded mid-season and never fully acclimated.   The two seasons prior?  27 goals, each.  He can score.  And has 2 points in 2 games thus far.

Availability: Owned in 0.4% of leagues.

Forecast:  Not for shallow leagues, but in deeper ones, yes definitely.
On a line with Plekanec, Bourque will have good opportunities.

TRADE TARGETS:

1.  Evander Kane.  Window may already have slammed shut.  If not, get him ASAP!
2.  Jamie Benn.  Only one assist in his first two games, but the points will come. 
3.  Joffrey Lupul.  Injury-prone, but worth the risk if you an IR slot.
4.  Patrik Elias.  Underrated.  Wily veteran may be had at a discount.

Centres

Variously owned Cs worth adding (depending on the size of your league): 
Mikhail Grabovski 90%.  Living with Ovie.  And scoring like him, too.
Jordan Staal 72%.  Could be tough-sledding in CAR this year, but talent is there.
Lars Eller 45%.  I'm assuming all you keeners snagged him already or he'd be featured.
Mike Fisher 22%.  Always underrated.  Always solid, if unspectacular.
Derek Roy 14%.  He's enjoying life in St. Louis.  Lotta quality wings in their Top 9.
Dave Bolland 10%.  Can score in bursts.  Watch his line assignment in Toronto.
Patrik Berglund 3%.  See Roy, Derek.
Alexsander Barkov 3%.  Lining up with Huberdeau.
Travis Zajac 2%.  A fixture in New Jersey's Top 6.  Should bounceback some this season.
Martin Hanzal 1.4%.  Vrbata on his wing.  Good swing add:  ride him until he's injured.
Sean Monahan 0.4%.  Will be given whatever support Calgary can muster.
Nick Bonino 0.2%.  Quietly played at a 40-point pace last season.  PP goal last night.
Mathieu Perreault.  0.1%.  Boudreau's boy from Washington.  See if he plays 2C.
Cody Eakin.  0.1%.  FHS's favourite ginger!  Multicat guy who will see Top 6 at times.

Detroit Red Wings Stephen Weiss

Weiss is primed for a career year.  Moving from FLA to DET he will now face lesser competition on L2.

Availability: Owned in 60% of leagues.

Forecast:  Quality linemates:  Franzen and Alfredsson should also give Weiss a boost.

Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Bozak

The "Rodney Dangerfield of NHL Centres," all this guy does is produce.  If your league counts FOWs or FO%, he's quite good on both counts.

Availability: Owned in 14% of leagues.

Forecast:  As the Maple Leafs continue to bolster their F corps, Bozak's quality of competition will trend down.  Look for 50+ points and some help in your peripherals, too.

New York Islanders Frans Nielsen

Two points (1G, 1A) in two games, 15 FOWs, some peripherals (2 blocks, 1 hit) and he's shooting more:  6 SOG, so far.

Availability: Owned in 2% of leagues.

Forecast:  Look for Nielsen to take a step forward this year.  His lineys, Bailey and Grabner, should do the same.  A rising tide will lift all ships.

Florida Panthers Marcel Goc

Not sure how long it will last, but for now at least, Goc is centering Florida's #1 line.  To his left, Flash.  To his right, Versteeg.

Availability: Owned in 0.6% of leagues.

Forecast:  2 goals in 2 games.  Obviously, that "pace" cannot and will not continue, but it is some indication that Goc has found himself in a nice situation.

TRADE TARGETS:

1.  David Backes.  Leader.  Multicat beast.  Does it all.  Potentially undervalued.
2.  Nicklas BackstromCapitals are on fire!  No discounts here, but could be worth full fare.
3.  Matt Duchene.  Historically fast-starter.  Get ‘em while the gittin's good.

Right Wings

Variously owned RWs worth adding (depending on the size of your league): 
Kris Versteeg 67%.  He's back, and he's back on L1.
Jakob Silfverberg 62%. 2 goals in 2 games.  Not on the Getzlaf/Perry line (yet?)
Chris Neil 39%.  Best available combination of PIMs, Hits + some scoring.
Valeri Nichushkin 36%. On L3 right now, but he's well worth a flyer if you have a spot.
Brent Burns 33%.  Back on SJ's L1 with Jumbo Joe and hotshot rookie Hertl.
Matt Read 9%.  Look for 25+ goals.  Philly is going to add a F to their Top 9, too.
Devin Setoguchi 7%.  He's on a line with Evander Kane.  Enough said.
Jiri Hudler 6%.  I'm not a huge fan, but he'll get plum assignments this year.
Ales Hemsky 5%.  Yes, he's made of glass, but skill + L1 = smile.
Beau Bennett 5%.  Temper expectations.  A lot of L3 this year, but he's good.
Charlie Coyle 4%.  Minny's 2C at present.  That line isn't exactly lethal, but the FOWs help.
Matt Frattin 3%.  A steady gig with Carter and Richie?  Uh-huh.
Colton Orr 2%.  If you need PIMs, the NHL's most prolific face-puncher is available.
Michael Frolik 2%.  Have we seen his breakout, and will it continue? 
Zack Kassian 2%.  Was slated for the Sedins line. Suspension is over tomorrow.
Chuck Kobasew 0.6%.  Has scored 20+ in his career.  Now on the high-flying Penguins.
Rich Peverley 0.1%.  Versatile.  Will play up and down the Stars lineup.  Watch him.
Derek Dorsett 0.1%.  Hits and PIMs plus some goals.  On L4 right now.  Another to watch.

Dallas Stars Erik Cole

Landed on L1 with Benn and Seguin.  Scratch last season, Cole is a terrific bounce back candidate in a sexy situation.

Availability: Owned in 47% of leagues.

Forecast:  Cole is unlikely to hit the 35 goals he scored in 2011-12 with Montreal, but he could flirt with 30 if everything falls right for him.  He should not be available in more than ½ of all leagues.

Vancouver Canucks Jannik Hansen

Not sure how long it will last, but he's riding shotgun with the Sedins.  Even if he gets bumped, he's likely to find himself on L2 with Ryan Kesler.

Availability: Owned in 15% of leagues.

Forecast:  The 27 year old is in line for a career year.  Look for about 20 goals.

Winnipeg Jets Mark Scheifele

Winnipeg is maximizing Scheifele's chances for success this season.  Little is 1C and will handle the toughest competition.  While Scheifele gets the Jets best wing man in Evander Kane.  Then they added Devin Setoguchi in free agency.  Merry Christmas, Mark.

Availability: Owned in 6% of leagues.

Forecast:  My pick (WAG) for the Calder.  And a sneaky source of FOWs from the RW slot.

Dallas Stars Alex Chiasson

You guys probably know him from his hot goal-scoring streak last season.  That's landed Chaisson a gig in Dallas's Top 6 to start the season.  Even if he bounces around to L3, the Stars have a deep enough corps of Fs that he should continue to produce.

Availability: Owned in 1.9% of leagues.

Forecast:  Chiasson has a shot at 20-25 goals.  Heck, he's got 2 already!

TRADE TARGETS:
1. Steve Downie.  Dude does it all.  Will have very good lineys in COL this year, too.
2. Bobby Ryan.  It may take some time to gel, but it'll happen.  Buy before the explosion.
3. Wayne Simmonds.  Some turmoil in PHI.  What's new?  Don't panic.  Buy low.
4. Jakub Voracek.  See Simmonds, Wayne.  *He won't shoot >17% this season, but he'll still be good.

Defencemen

Variously owned D-men worth adding (depending on the size of your league): 
Kevin Bieksa 52%.  Will be a Tortorella favorite if he isn't already.
Marc Staal 42%.  Eyesight much improved.
Jacob Trouba 29%.  Exciting rookie.  Don't believe the "pundits" who say he won't stick.
Seth Jones 23%.  Has the trust of Trotz already.  Talent will shine through.
Dougie Hamilton 18%.  Boston will give him every opportunity to succeed.
Travis Hamonic 4%.  Bounceback candidate, though temper offensive upside expectations.
Dmitry Kulikov 4%.  Shoulder is 100% again, finally.  May start slow, but he'll roll.
Matt Niskanen 3%.  Leading scorer on the Pens (3 pts).  Jacques Martin has him blocking shots, too.
Jared Cowen. 1.3%.  Ownership level is criminal!  Stuffs the stat sheet.
Morgan Rielly 1.2%.  Huge offensive potential.  Dynasty darling or a stash if you space in redrafts.
Luke Schenn 1.1%.  A pig bitch when it comes to hits and blocks.
Simon Despres 0.8%.  Speculative play here as a PIT trade could increase his TOI.
Andre Benoit 0.2%.  Cam's boy. 
Mark Fraser 0.1%.  Currently on IR, but a great combo of PIMs, hits and blocks when healthy.
Nikita Nikitin 0.1%.  Logs big minutes and gets PP time.

Calgary Flames Mark Giordano

Calgary's new Captain.   He's going to play about 25 minutes per game.  You have to be on the ice to produce.  Great for blocks.  Good for hits.  And he's shooting a lot more so far this year, too (8 shots in 2 games).

Availability: Owned in 49% of leagues.

Forecast:  Three points in two games is encouraging.  Calgary is young and may struggle at times, but 35 points certainly seems do-able.  Possibly a bit more.

Minnesota Wild Jonas Brodin

Brodin should have won the Calder last season.  In real hockey, he was the most valuable rookie.  A PP goal in the season opening just may be a harbinger of things to come.

Availability: Owned in 18% of leagues.

Forecast:  Look for Brodin to take a big step forward in his offensive production.  At ES, he will continue to be paired with Ryan Suter and log big minutes.  This year, he will also see significantly more PP time.

Dallas Stars Brenden Dillon

Phenomenal rookie season.  Seemingly out of nowhere.  What is your excuse this season?   This cat is for real.

Availability: Owned in 4% of leagues.

Forecast:  Better in leagues that count Hits and Blocks in addition to PIMs, Dillon should also produce reasonably well offensively.  Look for about 20 points, 200+ hits, 100+ blocks, and a shot at 100 PIMs.

Tampa Bay Lightning Radko Gudas

I love this guy!  Hits and PIMs galore and a little bit of score.  Currently, part of Tampa Bay's top pair along with Matt Carle.

Availability: Owned in 0.6% of leagues.

Forecast:  Gudas looks to be in line for an increased role in Tampa Bay this season.  20+ minutes per game woul not be a surprise.  That means even MORE hits and PIMs for "The Champ."

TRADE TARGETS:
1. Dion Phaneuf.  Just voted most overrated by his peers. Perhaps, but not in Fake Hockey.
2. Jason Garrison.  Got hot at the end of last season and that's carrying over.  Buy while you can.
3. Justin Faulk.  I smell breakout.  Yes, he's on a weaker team.  Use that to your advantage.
4. James Wisniewski.  Another "ugly duckling" because he plays in a small market.

Goaltenders

Variously owned Gs worth adding (depending on the size of your league): 
Devan Dubnyk 89%.  Don't panic.  EDM will get their D sorted out and he'll see better days.
Tim Thomas 67%.  The D in front of him is not good, but he's a battler and will do okay.
Karri Ramo 10%.  Another overreaction.  Ownership is cut in ½ overnight.  Ramo > MacD.
Jeff Zatkoff 0.2%.  Don't love him, but even a monkey can win in PIT (w/ apologies to MAF).
Dan Ellis 0.2%.  Dallas is better this year, and Ellis is a wily veteran. 
Chad Johnson 0.1%.  Another G I do NOT love, but his situation is even better than Ellis's.

Colorado Avalanche Semyon Varlamov

I know, I know.  The D corps in Colorado is bad.  Like really bad.  But it is improved.  And likely improving.  Look for a trade.  The Avs are likely to add a proven 4/5 type guy.  Plus, their offence is improved which should mean less running around in their own end.

Availability: Owned in 88% of leagues.

Forecast:  Giggy is no threat to his #1 status.  He's in a K year.  Roy and Allaire will help.  And he will receive better goal support this season.  The talent has always been there.

Toronto Maple Leafs James Reimer

Fake league GMs are overreacting.  Bernier is talented and there are no gimmes in this competition, but Optimus has proven he can win in the crucible that is Toronto.  He posted a .924 Save % last season, and is still my favorite to get the edge in starts.

Availability: Owned in 51% of leagues.

Forecast:  This is going to be a timeshare.  Acquiring Reimer is likely to cost you less than Bernier and provide a better ROI.  In daily leagues, look to acquire BOTH.

Anaheim Ducks Viktor Fasth

Wow.  Fasth ownership #s plummeted by >60% after...one game.  C'mon people.  Look at his body of work.  Last season with Anaheim he posted a 2.18 GAA and .921 Save %.  The prior two seasons he won the equivalent of the Vezina in the Swedish Elite league.

Availability: Owned in 12% of leagues.

Forecast:  Fasth will split starts with Hiller.  In fact, Hiller may start more than ½ of Anaheim's games, so Fasth isn't a great add in weekly leagues.  In daily leagues, however, he's an excellent add.  Look for 30-40 starts.

Phoenix Coyotes Thomas Greiss

Savvy move by Greiss to sign with Phoenix.  Playing in Tippett's system has made Mike Smith look like the Second Coming of Jacques Plante (I'm still not a believer).  Greiss has proven to be an average to above average goaltender when given starts.  If Smith were to go down for any extended period of time, Greiss's value would skyrocket.

Availability: Owned in 0.1% of leagues.

Forecast:   A good add in deeper leagues and/or a shrewd plug-n-play in shallow (daily) leagues when he gets his starts.

TRADE TARGETS:
1. Tuukka Rask.  He's the best (in fake hockey, at least).
2. Roberto Luongo. Notoriously slow-starter.  Wait a bit, then pounce.
3. Evgeni Nabokov.  Isles are improved. Great bargain in redrafts.
4. Kari Lehtonen.  Conditioning and diet much better now.  Injury risk overblown.
5. Marc-Andre Fleury.  Playoffs don't matter to us!


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

NOTES:

* Availability data from ESPN leagues. [Availability in Y! leagues tends to be significantly higher].

* Player analyses and recommendations are based on the following categories: Goals, Assists, Shots on Goal, Special Teams Goals, Hits, Blocks, PIMs and DEF points for Skaters and Wins, GAA, and Save% for Goaltenders.

*Like previous seasons, "Free Agents and Trade Targets" will post here every Sunday evening.

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