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Week 5 - Free Agents and Trade Targets

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NHL Fantasy Hockey - Week 5: Free Agents and Trade Targets

The "Altitudinous One" Celebrates a recent Sens Victory over the Rangers
The "Altitudinous One" Celebrates a recent Sens Victory over the Rangers

Greetings GMs! As trends start to emerge and more players succumb to the injury bug, things are thinning out on The Wire.

Beautiful day today, for February on the Right Coast, so let's drop right into this week's recommendations:

Left Wings

Variously owned LWs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Jonathan Huberdeau 91%, Jamie McGinn 56%, Steve Ott 27%, Brandon Prust 18%, Jakob Silfverberg 3%, Clarke MacArthur 0.3%, Matt Martin 0.1%, Alexander Burmistrov 0.1% (dual eligible LW/RW).

Toronto Maple Leafs Nazem Kadri

Kadri has been mentioned in this column a couple times already this season, and he keeps producing, so he's featured this week. Over the past 7 games, Kadri has 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) and a smorgasbord of other contributions: a +2 rating, 5 PIMs, 15 SOGs, 3 PPPs, and 4 Hits.

Availability: Owned in 68% of leagues.
Forecast: With Lupul out, Kadri is 4th among Leafs forwards in PP TOI/game. Even when Lupul returns, Kadri has earned more minutes. With 15 points in 19 games, this is Kadri's breakout season, and 1/3 of leagues still have not noticed. Over in Yahoo! land, Kadri is unowned in nearly 2/3 of leagues. Wake up!

Ottawa Senators Jakob Silfverberg

Silfverberg is known as a responsible two-way player, and scouts were split on whether he would be an offensive threat or not. His numbers so far this year are decent if unspectacular: in 19 games 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists).

Availability: Owned in 3% of leagues.
Forecast: This is a pretty deep cut and there may be better options on your wire (see above), but with all the injuries to Ottawa (who kicked the puppy?), Silfverberg's role has been accelerated. Whether that means he will rise to the occasion or be hindered by lack of a supporting cast is the question.

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

Montreal Canadiens Lars Eller

As some of you know, I'm a bit of a closet Habs fan. My uncle bought me my first hockey stick (and boxing gloves -- he had 3 sons and we all squared off regularly with him as coach and judge) and he was a Montreal fan so I didn't have much choice! Anyhow, I've been a fan of Eller's for some time and it's nice to see him starting to blossom now.

Availability: Owned in <0.1 % of leagues.
Forecast: He's centering the "third" line, but it's more talented than most as he has Erik Cole and Alex Galchenyuk on his wings. Eller has 9 points (2+7) so far in 16 games and he's been heating up lately with 1 goal, 3 assists, a +4 rating, 5 SOGs, 6 PIMs, 4 Hits, 3 Blocks, and even 1 PPP in his last 4 games.


Variously owned Cs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Patrik Berglund 80%, Tyler Bozak 70%, Mike Fisher 35%, Mikhail Grabovski (23%), Brandon Sutter 3%, Ryan O'Reilly 1% (if you can spare the roster spot until he's signed), Jarret Stoll 0.3%.

New York Rangers Derek Stepan

Stepan has been good on the second line between Hagelin and Callahan. Over his last 4 games, he has 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists), a +1 rating, 6 SOGs, 2 PIMs, 2 PPPs, and 5 Hits.

Availability: Owned in 58% of leagues.
Forecast: I'm not a huge Stepan fan, but he did post 51 points last year (17 + 34) and that seems like a reasonable projection for this year as well. Given that he is only scoring at a 43-point pace and has started to generate more lately, there appears to be some upside here if you add him now.

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

Montreal Canadiens Alex Galchenyuk

Perplexing. A couple weeks ago, Galch's ownership was 13%. Now it's down to 8%, right when he's heating up. He doesn't offer much in peripheral cats, but he does have 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) in 18 games.

Availability: Owned in 8% of leagues.
Forecast: Expect some rookie inconsistency, but it's fair to say that Galchenyuk is exceeding expectations thus far. And right now, he's hot. In his last 4 games he has 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) a +2 rating, 1 PPP and even chipped in with 4 PIMs and 6 Blocks.

Right Wings

Variously owned RWs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Troy Brouwer 68%, Chris Stewart 45%, Derek Dorsett 7%, Chris Neil 5%, Daniel Cleary 1% (and a PP goal tonight!)

New York Rangers Ryan Callahan

Cally missed some time at the end of January and beginning of February and that may be while he's still available in some leagues. In the 5 games since Valentine's Day, he's been a Hits machine racking up 22 in that timeframe to go with 8 Blocks. His scoring isn't quite there yet--just 2 points (1+1), but he's firing the puck (15 SOGs) and it should come soon.

Availability: Owned in 88% of leagues.
Forecast: Over the past 2 seasons, Callahan scored 52 goals and 50 points--an average of 51 points/year. This year, however, he's only scoring at a 29-point pace. Forecast calls for him to increase his scoring significantly.

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

Ottawa SenatorsMika Zibanejad

Similar conundrum as what faces Silfverberg. With the spate of injuries in OTT his role increases, but without as strong of a supporting cast will his numbers increase or decrease? This is a deep cut and Mika Z. has talent + opportunity. Cannot ask for much more

Availability: Owned in 0.4% of leagues.
Forecast: Zibanejad is centering the Sens second line and getting generous PP time (4th on the team amont active players). His last 2 games have been excellent: 2 goals, 1 assist, a +3 rating, 5 SOGs, 1 PPP, 9 Hits, and 2 Blocks.


Variously owned Ds worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Marc Staal 95%, Jay Bouwmeester 84%, Dan Hamhuis 70%, Jason Garrison 64%, John Carlson 62%, Ryan McDonagh 62%, Travis Hamonic 59%, Zach Bogosian 54%, Tyson Barrie 9%, Matt Niskanen 3%, Jay Harrison 1.1%, Nicklas Grossmann 0.1%

Toronto Maple LeafsCody Franson

Franson has seen a renaissance this year in Toronto. As he's produced, his TOI continues to climb. Over the past 2 weeks (10 games), he's posted 8 points (all apples), a whopping +11 rating, 3 PPPs, 16 Hits, and 9 Blocks.

Availability: Owned in 56% of leagues.
Forecast: I'm not a fan of +/-, but at the extremes it can be an indicator of play. That sterling +11 number in addition to consistent scoring can only lead to increased opportunities for Franson.

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

Philadelphia Flyers Luke Schenn

Behold the Mad Hitter! Schenn is #1 among defencemen in Hits so far this year with 69. He's 12th in Blocks with 41, and mostly known for his peripherals. In leagues that count these categories, he should be owned, period. In other leagues, probably not.

Availability: Owned in 6% of leagues.
Forecast: Schenn has scored exactly 22 points in each of his last 2 seasons. This year, he's on pace for 21 points. That's called consistency. Unfortunately, it is of the unexciting variety. Schenn still has a great deal of value in some leagues, just be sure to check your scoring system.


Variously owned Gs worth adding (depending on the size of your league) or worth targeting via trade: Ray Emery 91%, Ben Scrivens 83%, Braden Holtby 73%, James Reimer 55%, Jonas Hiller 54%, Nikolai Khabibulin 5%, Cristopher Nilstorp 0.2%.

Ottawa SenatorsBen Bishop

The Senators are calling Anderson's injury a "slight sprain." To their credit, they are also acknowledging that his ankle needs to be 100% before he returns. Given how deep they are between the pipes (AHL star Robin Lehner has been summoned) it doesn't make any sense to rush Andy back. Enter Ben Bishop. The "Altitudinous One" (he's 6'7") has been great so far this year: in 5 GP he has 3 Wins (his last 3 in a row) and sparkling ratios: 2.47 and .921.

Availability: Owned in 11% of leagues.
Forecast: As long as he keeps playing he will continue to get the bulk of the starts. Anderson is likely out another a couple weeks or so, so add Bishop if you need a short to intermediate term fix.

Quick shout out to last week's deep cut: Cris Nilstrop who earned his first NHL win in an impressive 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Swedish import improved his ratios to 2.60 and .913, and pulled ahead of Bachman in the battle to back-up the oft-injured Kari Lehtonen.

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.