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Week 4 - Free Agents and Trade Targets

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NHL Fantasy Hockey - Week 4: Free Agents and Trade Targets

HC Adam Oates reading FHS on the big screen thinking, "Damn, Dio recs him and Carlson scores 10 minutes later.  That's rich."
HC Adam Oates reading FHS on the big screen thinking, "Damn, Dio recs him and Carlson scores 10 minutes later. That's rich."
Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

Happy Sunday, GMs! Some pretty cool records and races are shaping up. The Chicago Blackhawks are chasing history with their amazing 11-0-3 start. Viktor Fasth is 8-0-0 and one win away from tying the all-time record for consecutive goalie wins to start a career. And Neal, Vanek, and Tavares are tied in the Rocket Richard race. Things are moving fast in this condensed and exciting season.

Let's peruse the waiver wire and see who may be out there to bolster the roster of your hockey teams:

Left Wings

Variously owned LWs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: James van Riemsdyk 100% (still somewhat undervalued for a prime source of Gs and SOGs), Evander Kane 100% (no goals in last eight--take advantage of impatient owner?), Danny Briere (riskier, but good upside from current ranking), Brayden Schenn 78%, Scott Hartnell 68%, Rene Bourque 52%, Steve Ott 21%, Brenden Morrow 11%, Matt Cooke 0.2%.

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href=Max Pacioretty

The "Invincible One." Patches came back even stronger after what looked like a career-threatening injury when Zdeno Chara ran him headfirst into the stanchion. This season, he's already come back in 1.5 weeks from what was initially projected as a "3-4 week" matter (appendectomy). He's currently listed as DTD after taking a deep skate gash to his rib area, but does anyone really think a mere "flesh wound" will keep him out for long?

Availability: Owned in 72% of leagues.
Forecast: The injuries have made it difficult for Pacioretty to generate much flow. He has yet to score a goal this season (after potting 33 last year), but does have 8 assists in 9 games on a surprisingly good MTL team. Look for him to return to his sniping ways shortly. A must-add as a free agent, Pacioretty also makes an attractive trade target.

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href=Carl Hagelin

Catch this wave as Hagelin is cresting right now. In his last 3 games he has 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) a +3 rating, and a whopping 14 SOGs. He won't do much for you in the peripheral cats though, so keep that in mind.

Availability: Owned in 28% of leagues.
Forecast: Hagelin is playing with Nash and Stepan on L2 and seeing time on the PP2. His last game, versus the NYIslanders, he saw a season-high 21:51 (versus his average of 17:02).

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

Chicago Blackhawks Daniel Carcillo

Carcillo is skating, but has yet to play. That could change any day now. The fiesty winger has averaged over 3 PIMs per game in his NHL career and he contributes enough offensively to more than earn his keep in most formats (12 points in 29 games since joining the Blackhawks prior to last season).

Availability: Owned in 0.3% of leagues.
Forecast: Carcillo may have lost his spot in the Top 6 due to the solid play of Brandon Saad, but with the way the Blackhawks are playing he should be able to produce wherever Coach Q uses him. "Carbomb" makes a good add in leagues that count PIMs and Hits as his truculence is elite. (Can truculence be "elite?")


Variously owned Cs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Jamie Benn 100% (overall ranking is lowish because he missed first week+), Tomas Plekanec 100% (persistently undervalued), Ryan Kesler 94% (multicat beast who looks good after extended IR), Brandon Dubinsky 68% (check injury status), Tyler Bozak 51%, Travis Zajac 46%, Mikhail Grabovski 28%, Mike Fisher 23%, Brandon Sutter 3%, JT Miller 1.7%, Ryan O'Reilly 0.6%, Andrew Shaw 0.3%.

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href=Martin Hanzal

The big Czech is tearing it up lately: 8 points in his last 8 games (6 goals, 2 assists), a +1 rating, 21 SOGs, 3 PPPs, 51 FOWs and 18 Hits.

Availability: Owned in 82% of leagues.
Forecast: Currently on a line with Radim Vrbata and Steve Sullivan and consistently on the PP1 there is every reason to believe that Hanzal will maintain strong production -- so long as he's healthy -- if not quite his current torrid point-per-game pace.

St Louis Blues Patrik Berglund

Berglund, although only 9th on the Blues in PP TOI/game this season, has been on the PP1 recently. The ‘Cock looks to be rewarding his good play. He has 2 goals in his last 2 games to go along with a stellar +4 rating, 5 SOGs, and 6 Hits. Berglund is lining up with Jaden Schwartz and Chris Stewart.

Availability: Owned in 62% of leagues.
Forecast: For whatever reason, Bergie is one of those players who has a good season, followed by a bad season. Exhibit A: his rookie year, '08-'09: 47 points (good), '09-'10: 26 points (bad), '10-'11: 52 points (good), '11-'12: 38 points (bad), so...this year, he is due to be "good." I know it's a bit early for "on pace" numbers, but it's interesting given his pattern. So far this year, Berglund has 9 points in 14 games -- a 53-point pace (good). To be honest, it feels like it could be better than that. Like closer to a 60-point pace.

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

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href=Cody Eakin

Acquired in the Mike Ribeiro trade, Eakin is establishing himself as a solid NHL-er. On the season, he has 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) in 15 games, a +1 rating, 10 PIMs, 21 SOGs, 17 Hits, and 10 Blocks. Not a game-changer, but steady with some grit for those in deeper leagues.

Availability: Owned in 0.1% of leagues.
Forecast: The ginger from Manitoba has already matched his scoring output from last season -- in precisely ½ as many games, so he has a nice upward trajectory.

Right Wings

Variously owned RWs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Phil Kessel 100% (the goals will come in bushels), Nail Yakupov 93%, Vladimir Tarasenko 91%, Matt Read 78%, Zack Kassian 44%, Troy Brouwer 41%, Chris Stewart 25%, Devin Setoguchi, Derek Dorsett 7%, Chris Neil 4%.

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href=Ales Hemsky

Hemsky is on L2, Gagner's line, with Hartikainen. He doesn't receive a ton of PP time (he's 8th in TOI/game with the man advantage), yet he's managed to be productive with 4 PPGs and a total of 10 points in 14 games (7 goals, 3 assists) on 29 SOGs.

Availability: Owned in 21% of leagues.
Forecast: Hemsky has always been supremely talented. It has just been matter of staying healthy and having enough talent surrounding him. He's got both now, so let the good times roll.

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href=Brian Gionta

Gionta is perking up as of late. In his last 3 games he has 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist), a +2 rating on 8 SOGs. He gets criticized for being an old man past his prime, and his numbers ARE down markedly from their peak, but he can still be a valuable contributor in many leagues.

Availability: Owned in 8% of leagues.
Forecast: If you are looking for help at RW, why not try the Captain of the Canadiens? He's a fixture on the PP1, second only to Pacioretty in PP TOI/game among forwards, and consistency plays on the de facto #1 line for the Habs: Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta .

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

Pittsburgh PenguinsBeau Bennett

The Penguins 1st round pick in 2010 (20th overall) is the latest to audition for the open wing spot on the Malkin-Neal line. I didn't recommend Tangradi or Boychuk for good reasons. Unsurprisingly, neither lasted. Tangradi was shed for a 7th round draft pick and Boychuk is becoming a regular in the press box. I am more optimistic on Bennett.

Availability: Owned in 1% of leagues.
Forecast: Bennett has played 2 games with the Penguins so far. Much of it has actually been on L3 with Sutter and Kennedy and he's only averaged 12 min/game, but the Pens clearly would prefer that he demonstrate the ability to keep up on Malkin's line. No points yet. And only 2 SOGs. But he's looked capable.


Variously owned Ds worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Marek Zidlicky 95%, Lubomir Visnovsky 94%, Marc Staal 88%, Brent Burns 74%, Dmitry Kulikov 52%, Cody Franson 19%, Ryan Ellis 13%, Joe Corvo 7%, Luke Schenn 4%, Matt Niskanen 1.8%, Brendan Dillon 1.7%, Tyson Barrie 0.3%.

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href=John Carlson

Like most of what is coming out of Washington, Carlson has disappointed somewhat this year--especially offensively, where he has just 5 points in 14 games. So, what's the deal? Well, he does a lot of other things well. In his last 8 games he has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists), an even rating, 16 SOGs, 12 Hits, and a prodigious 23 blocks.

Availability: Owned in 55% of leagues.
Forecast: If your league uses real-time stats, Carlson will pay dividends in the form of Blocks and Hits while you wait for him to get his offensive game back on track.

UPDATE: Carlson just scored. His 2nd of the campaign.

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href=Zach Bogosian

Bogosian made his 2012-13 season debut on Friday and logged over 25 minutes of action including 1:43 on the PP (7th on the team). In part this was due to the injury to Tobias Enstrom (still waiting on MRI results). If Enstrom is out for any extended period of time, it opens up the possibility that ZB will get bumped up to PP1 or, at a minimum, continues to receive copious amounts of ice time.

Availability: Owned in 14% of leagues.
Forecast: Bogosian's stat line from last season: 65 GP, 5 goals, 25 assists, 71 PIMs, 150 SOG, 117 Hits, 109 Blocks, and 1 PPG. Expect a similar pace this season--maybe a tad better.

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

Carolina Hurricanes Jay Harrison

Harrison continues to fly well below the radar. I can still remember drafting him in the FHS Ultimate Dynasty League (265th overall) and taking grief for it. "Too early." "Who's he?" etc. But fact is that Harrison can be a valuable contributor in medium and deep leagues given his combination of decent scoring and even better hits and blocks production.

Availability: Owned in 0.4% of leagues.
Forecast: Harrison's 2012 stat line: 72 GP, 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists), 60 PIMs, 128 SOGs, 117 Hits, 153 Blocks, and 2 PPGs. This year, in 13 GP, he has 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists), 11 PIM, 16 SOG, 22 Hits, and 28 Blocks. His last game, with Gleason and Pitkanen out, he logged over 25 minutes of ice time.


Variously owned Gs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Kari Lehtonen 100% (IF you believe the injury is minor), Jonathan Quick (if you believe he will snap out of his deep funk), Viktor Fasth (if you are prepared to pay a king's ransom), Braden Holtby 59%, Tomas Vokoun 55%, Miikka Kiprusoff 35%, Dan Ellis 4%, Jonathan Bernier 4%, Anton Khudobin 2%.

Anaheim Ducks Jonas Hiller

Wow, just typing Hiller's name I heard audible groans emanating from my netbook. Look, I'm the guy who recommended Viktor Fasth, and also predicted that the Anaheim Ducks would be much improved this season. They added Souray and Allen via free agency and did some (defensive) "addition by subtraction" in dealing away Visnovsky. So "the turkey is on the table" for Hiller. And HCBB says he will be back in the regular rotation soon.

Availability: Owned in 52% of leagues.
Forecast: Hiller led the NHL last season with a mammoth 73 games started. But he was worked too hard, too often and it showed. He posted a career low .910 Sv%. Pretty amazing that he even managed to hit the NHL average all things considered. Prior to that, his Sv% for the previous four seasons combined was a stellar .921. That's elite. The smart money says he'll bounce back.

Chicago Blackhawks Ray Emery

Corey Crawford is out with the dreaded "upper body injury" after being steamrolled in the crease a few days ago. No word on whether he has a concussion or not, but Emery has picked up the last 2 starts earning wins over SJ and LA while stopping 52 of 55 pucks (.945).

Availability: Owned in 25% of leagues.
Forecast: His value will depend greatly on the nature and extent of Crawford's injury, but clearly the Blackhawks have shown they can win with either goaltender in the cage, so there is no reason to rush Crawford back.

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

Dallas Stars Cris Nilstorp

Kari Lehtonen is on IR. We knew he couldn't stay healthy this long. Dallas is saying the injury is "minor," but who knows if they even know. Groin injuries can be tricky. Especially when dealing with someone with the injury history Lehtonen. I prefer Nilstorp over Bachman for reasons stated here. The skinny on his #s: This year, in 2 games with Dallas, he posted 2.70 and .918 + in 31 games in the AHL: 2.17 and .914. Last year, in 45 games in the SEL: he registered excellent ratios: 1.90 and .928

Availability: Owned in less than 0.1% of leagues.
Forecast: He's universally available for a reason. First and foremost, he needs an opportunity. No telling when Lehto will return or how Dallas will distribute starts among Bachman and Nilstorp in the interim. Just keep an eye on this situation, or, if your league is deep enough and you have a spot, add him speculatively.

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

* Availability data from ESPN leagues. [Availability in Y! leagues is almost always higher].
* Player analyses and recommendations will now reflect the growing popularity of broader based scoring systems, so we'll be evaluating free agents and trade targets on the following categories: Goals, Assists, Shots on Goal, Special Teams Goals, Hits, Blocks, PIMs and DEF points (for skaters -- for goalies it will still be Wins, GAA, and Save%). Also, like last season, "Free Agents and Trade Targets" will post here every Sunday evening.