This edition of Free Agents and Trade Targets goes out particularly to those who are hurting for defencemen. Maybe you tried out a strategy with which you didn’t draft any D-men until the sixth or seventh round, or maybe your internet connection went on the fritz at the very worst time and autodraft alone chose that strategy for you. Either way, I know some of you out there are a few defencemen away from having a decent situation on your blue line, so we’re here to help by giving you eight potentially helpful defensive targets.
But don’t worry if you don’t have any defensive problems, either, because I’m going to point at a good number of forwards that just might be available in your league, too.
PICKUP OF THE WEEK:
Mike Santorelli Van - C : 12% owned with 8+16=24 on season and 2+4=6 in last 4 GP
With 6 points, 13 shots on goal, and a +6 rating in his last 4 games, Santorelli has crept up to become a under-recognized fantasy helper. He has been playing between Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins on the second line, and these guys put a lot of pucks to the net. They have become one of Vancouver's most dangerous trios. In Saturday's 6-2 victory over Boston, Santorelli registered 2 goals, +2, and 5 shots on goal. Given his high amounts of ice time, it’s obvious Tortorella is as impressed with Santorelli as his fantasy owners must be. He has been a great addition for anyone who thought to pick him up in the last while, and I wouldn’t scoff at anyone who wants to go and grab him while he’s as hot as he is right now.
SHALLOW LEAGUE FREE AGENTS and TRADE TARGETS (owned in >50% in Yahoo! leagues)
Brandon Dubinsky - Cls - C,LW : 53% owned with 6+15=21
In short, I think that Dubinsky should be owned in most leagues that count penalty minutes and hits. After a 6 game absence, Dubinsky returned and collected 6 points in 5 games, along with 26 penalty minutes, 19 hits, as well as an impressive 16 shots on goal. His actual rank in the Yahoo! system over the last week is 4th, and because a leaguemate may have dropped them during that frustrating DTD stint, you could still have a chance to grab him. And if not, he might be worth something you’ve got. 53%? Yeah, that’ll change, whether you’re the one pulling that trigger or not.
Ryan Johansen - Cls - C,RW : 51% owned with 12+14=26
He just keeps going and going, and the highlight reels show that his points are rarely the result of luck. Johansen is living up to the hype of a former first round pick. He’s featured on the power play and will even lay a few hits for you. His ownership will only rise with the way he is playing now. You’d be one of the lucky ones if you can still grab him.
Dustin Penner - Anh - LW : 65% owned with 9+14=23
Still playing very well on a line with Getzlaf, who is enjoying a fifteen game point streak, and Perry, who has been mightily consistent himself. You can count on those two, and you can put your faith in Penner and his +19 rating, too.
Jakub Voracek - Phi - RW : 65% owned with 5+11=16
Like a lot of the Flyers, Voracek had a slow start to the season, although he has been heating up lately. He has 5 points (3 goals) in his last 4 games. This might be a sign of Voracek's coming stability.
Brent Seabrook - Chi - D : 87% owned with 3+19=22
It might be the wrong time to try and pry Seabrook away from somebody else’s roster, as his actual ranks have skyrocketed (81 overall for the season, 62 for the last thirty days), but, you know, it’s always worth a shot.
Cam Fowler - Anh - D : 66% owned with 3+16=19
Like Penner, Fowler plays on that dangerous first line with the ducks. He is also on their power play's first D pairing. His 19 points (10 coming on the power play) make him a very solid choice in all but the shallowest formats. He’s no P.K. Subban or Erik Karlsson, having 53 shots on goal, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t keep shining as a boxscore accomplice.
MEDIUM-DEPTH FREE AGENTS and TRADE TARGETS (25-50% ownership in Yahoo! leagues)
Tyler Ennis - Buf - C,LW : 33% owned with 7+6=13
Ennis shares the same problem as a lot of guys who play for Buffalo, which is the problem of having to play for Buffalo. They are in a period of fierce rebuilding, which can hurt its players' opportunities, but the difference between Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis is that, while investment rates in the Hodgson are falling, Ennis has generated 4 points in his last 5 games. Also, in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, Ennis showed that he is capable of getting 7 shots to the net in one game. One of these shots even went in on the power play. Ennis is currently owned in only 33% of Yahoo! leagues, and so if you have a slot and few options in a points-favouring league, Ennis might just be able to help you out.
Kimmo Timonen - Phi - D : 52% owned with 2+7=9
Timonen has been a little hit-or-miss this season and had an unfortunate beginning. That said, he has a wealth of potential and has been playing some good hockey lately. He’s collected 4 points, all on the man advantage, and has registered 12 shots in his last 5 games. If the Kimmo-tides are turning now, this might be a chance to flash a hopeful and hopefully knowing wink at whoever in your league gave up on him. He's a slight risk, but his ownership rate budges upward as you read this.
Sergei Gonchar - Dal - D : 49% owned with 0+10=10
I’m not straight up telling you to rush out and grab Gonchar right now, but the talented veteran has shown some sparks recently after a long rocky period. In Saturday’s game against Winnipeg, Gonchar assisted in 4 goals (2 on the man advantage), which is awesome for his owners, even if he didn’t register any shots on goal. With that effort, Gonchar has 6 assists in his last 5 games. His plus-minus has been improving, as well, though it currently sits at -6. It's a gamble, but an interesting one if you're in the position to take the chance. You just didn't hear it from me.
Andrej Sekera - Car - D : 31% owned with 6+12=18
Sekera has most recently had two consecutive pointless games, but before that he was showing promise that made ownership rates were spike dramatically. He is a strong defender capable of multi-point games, and is being utilized on the Canes’ top power play unit. At this point, he has 18 points in 32 games and should be snapped up if you have room on your roster in deepish leagues.
DEEPER LEAGUE FREE AGENTS (<25% ownership in Yahoo! leagues)
Antoine Roussel - Dal - LW : 9% owned with 7+7=14
The French agitator has shown himself capable of huge contributions despite an lowly average ice time of 12:04. In Tuesday’s 6-2 loss against Chicago, the highly productive Roussel managed to gather 2 goals, a +2 rating, 16 penalty minutes, 3 shots on goal, and a huge 9 hits. In only 11 minutes!! His point production has been respectable, especially lately, and he is capable of leapfrogging you ahead of your opponents if you count penalty minutes with 90 on the season . This kind of player is hard to come by.
Jaden Schwartz - StL - C, LW : 23% owned with 8+14=22
Schwartz is a +13 on the season, and his line with Chris Stewart and Vladimir Sobotka have been playing so well that it is hard not to take a look at the dual-eligible Schwartz. He is averaging over 17 minutes of ice time per game and can boost your points, shots, and plus minus if you have a hole to fill.
Mike Santorelli - Van - C : 12% owned with 8+16=24
See "Pickup of the Week" section above
Radko Gudas - TB - D : 30% owned with 1+6=7
Gudas is eighth overall in the NHL this season for hits with 109 . This is extremely commendable considering that he missed 5 games with an undisclosed upper body injury. Like Roussel, Gudas can help you out with penalty minutes (70 on the season), and he’s not bad for shots on goal, either. This makes him a great player to have in a defence slot if your league counts the grittier aspects of the game.
Brenden Dillon - Dal - D : 19% owned with 4+6=10
Need PIMs and Gudas is taken? Brendan Dillon might be of assistance. He has 49 minutes in the sin bin on the season, as well as 65 hits and 46 shots. Gudas is stronger in these categories, but while Gudas is +1, Dillon is +8. Dillon also has more points. Dallas has been leaning on him a little more heavily of late. I personally love the Gudas/Dillon type on my fantasy blue line.
Jake Gardiner - Tor - D : 8% owned with 1+10=11
Gardiner has 5 points in his last 6 games, showing flourishes of his great potential all the way. He is worth a look in some leagues if you have a hole to fill. Gardiner should not put up zeroes in any category he is eligible to help you with, and might even impress you in the midst of this current relatively hot streak.
THE 1% SPECIALS (<1% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Dylan Olsen - Fla - D : 3% owned with 3+4=7
Olsen has only played 9 games this season. 7 points in nine games is great for a blueliner of his ownership rate, but what makes him even more of a stand-out is that 6 of these points (3 goals) have come in the last 5 games! He has not fallen scoreless in any those 5 games, and he has maintained a +2 for the season. On Florida. His AHL record doesn't inspire loads of confidence about him keeping up this pace, but he is definitely worth a look right now.
Peter Holland - Tor - C : 1% owned with 5+2=7
Holland has played 9 games with the Leafs this season, filling in after the injuries to Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland. He is currently playing on a line with Joffrey Lupul and Mason Raymond, which is a pretty good gig. In Saturday night’s 7-3 victory over Chicago, Holland filled the stat sheet with 2 goals, 1 assist, a +1 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 1 power play point, 5 shots on goal, and 3 hits. With more efforts like that, it will be hard for Carlyle to argue with this line combination.
Ryan Garbutt - Dal - C : 1% owned with 5+4=9
Garbutt has had some big games in Dallas. He has a knack for multi-point outings that separate scoreless periods, which is frustrating, but he has a respectable 61 shots, 31 penalty minutes, and 43 hits on the season. Have a look, deeper leagues.