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Week 17's Free Agents and Trade Targets

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Sunday Night Lookers to help you get ahead in your league.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

I may be a seagull, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the occasional good idea. Like right now I’m thinking that that since Technoviking has finally made himself known in the part of the real world that isn’t the internet, we can finally clone him and place the copies in all NHL arenas. Secrurity would be unparalleled. I mean, I don’t think John Tortorella would have lasted so long trying to climb bodies toward the Flames’ dressing room like an Alaskan wolverine if there was a specimen like Technoviking to stand and point in the opposite direction. He probably wouldn’t have even tried in the first place, knowing the wall of human will he’d have to break through to get there. And forget about the hoodlums that smuggle in a flask of Jameson to avoid the $15 pintish cups of beer. A thing of the past.

I know it sounds too obviously grim and dystopian, but here’s the kicker: between incidents, Technovikings could lead small, slow-walking dance parades around the buildings. Crowds would love it, but they’d keep good distance. His dancing, which seems almost like something resembling fun, maybe, appears to soften the hard, almost medieval force of regulation without actually softening it at all. And that’s an illusion too difficult to create with anything else. That’s some cold cash right there. You’re welcome.

And speaking of clones, someone please get on the advanced-advanced stats game and find out how anybody is ever going to beat a team that rosters four separate sets of twins. This could happen to any sport.

It’s been a weird week.


Andrej Sekera - car - D - 29% owned with 8+22=30

A lot of people dropped Sekera after a joint -4 outing with d-bro Justin Faulk on January 19, or else before then in the middle of a cold streak, and no matter when some of you dropped him, others snatched him right up, remembering the force he was before he went a little soggy. This Pickup of the Week is for those dudes and ladies, the ones who punish impulsive FA market pigs like me. Because we deserve it. And there was no better example of such punishment than that given to an ex-Sekera owner by his new team as the Czech olympian powered out 1 goal and 6 points over his week’s 3 games. To make it even worse, immediately following that uncharacteristic -4 outing, Sekera put together a +6 on the week. Okay, great numbers, right? Yeah, of course, but you also have to remember that this stellar week came hurling from the blue line. I watched a bunch of Saturday’s 6-3 win over Ottawa, and Sekera is really making things happen out there. He’s dipping around folks and firing the puck or setting up some really very pretty plays. He notched two assists that game with a +2, and he really did look worth rostering, just to let you know.

SHALLOW LEAGUE FREE AGENTS and TRADE TARGETS (owned in >50% in Yahoo! leagues)

Alexander Semin - Car - LW,RW - 83% owned with 12+14=26
As a Eric Staal drafter this season, I’ve been waiting for Semin to heat up. Last season, the Tlusty-Eric-Semin line squatted in every game’s boxscore like it was their own personal crack den, just destroying the place and developing enough of a reputation that nobody went anywhere near it and them. I just couldn’t handle that against me again this year, and I’m really hoping that we’re on the way toward something equally grotesque. Right now, Semin’s 5 game, 6 goal and 8 point streak is worth a whole shadeless lamp of hope. In 39 games played, Semin has amassed 119 shots on goal, and don’t worry about his relatively underweight 24 points, many are coming and quickly. His was a name that I hated to see in a matchup last season, and I think if you don’t own him, you’ll be feeling quite a bit of that this season yourself.

Nazem Kadri - Tor - C - 65% owned with 12+21=33
After a plaguing inconsistency in the shadow of last year’s season, Kadri’s name was thrown around in a bunch of trade rumours. Now he’s talking back. During the news sprawl, Kadri went out on January 18 and claimed 2 helpers, a +2, and 5 hits. In his 6 games since January 15, Kadri has potted 2 goals and 8 points. On his 50 game season, Kadri only owns 33 points, but he’s helped out some hold-strong believers with 57 PIMs and 109 hits during his disappointing inconsistency. But his recent upswing along with steadier contributions in sin-mins and hits make him a really great guy to nab in leagues that value those stats, among others. He’s an Ontario boy with a life-vision of staying in Ontario, and the best case he can make for himself is becoming a player the organization wouldn’t dream of trading. These new stakes are showing in Kadri’s play.

Derek Stepan - NYR - C - 69% owned with 9+24=33
With 9 goals and 41 shots in 9 games, it’s no secret how well the tortoise who killed the hare and stole its jumpers (Rick Nash, if that wasn’t clear enough) has been playing lately. It’s so much not a secret that probably a lot of people are thinking, man, there’s just no way I can get in on them sweet numbers. Maybe not quite, but Derek Stepan, who has been centering that top line (and 1st PP unit) between Nash and Chris Kreider, has been a factor of the Nash resurgence and a good producer in his own right with 3 goals and 8 points (2PPP), a +5, and 13 shots in his last 5 games. He’s owned in 69% of leagues, but with a faltering start to the season, there’s a chance he still might be under some radars in leagues full of impatient players who make all of their decisions at 4am on a Sunday morning after they fall face first onto their bed still wearing shoes. And as long as this line stays this hot, Stepan should be in on most of the points it comes up with.

Cory Schneider - NJ - G - 65% owned with 9W, 1.84 GAA, and .928 SV%
Even though he’s very predictably not getting the call to start in Yankee Stadium, Schneider has started the last 6 of 8 games for the suddenly somewhat offensive New Jersey Devils. He even won 4 of those 6 games, posting a shutout and only letting 6 goals pass him that whole stretch through. Schneider is battling against tradition and loyalty for starts, but he’s making the right moves and should be at least considered in all leagues at this point. He’s playing really, really well and, I mean, I think Shaq has something to do with it. I’ve seen Kazaam.

MEDIUM-DEPTH FREE AGENTS and TRADE TARGETS (25-50% ownership in Yahoo! leagues)

Jonathan Huberdeau - Fla - C,LW - 47% owned with 8+13=21
The word that seems to follow around Huberdeau’s name this season has been "confidence." Usually it’s like, Huberdeau hasn’t found his confidence, Huberdeau needs more confidence, that lone goal two weeks was supposed to give him that much needed confidence, and all this confidence talk really kind of makes him seem like a bit of a Quebecois steamie. Without the mustard. Except the thing is that he has 4 points and a +6 in his last 4 games, so maybe, he’s on to something here. If nothing else, Huberdeau is worth a glance right now. He’s a very talented dual-eligible sophemore and could be good for some points if he finds his.... stride. That wasn’t so hard.

Frans Nielsen - NYI - C - 42% owned with 17+25=42
Nielsen had a great start to the season, but he must have started reading every hockey site on the internet because they all said he’d slow and flop. He did slow, and in a big way. But recently, Nielsen’s been all about something else with 10 points in his last 10 games. It helps that he lines up on the blue line for the Isles’ pretty killer top power play unit led by Johnny T, seeing as half of those points are straight out of the man advantage. Ride him and hope he’s got some more juice left in this streak, or that it’s not a streak at all but a legitimate resurgence. He could be a good stopgap in those leagues where he’s likely to be available.

Alex Goligoski - Dal - D - 37% owned with 2+20=22
I’m sure A.G. wants to be more than the joke component of a bad, bad trade. (If you don’t remember, Dallas sent The James Neal and upsurging Matt Niskanen to Pittsburgh in exchange for Goligoski alone.) It would be very difficult for him to balance that deal himself, but at least it’s been harder to come down on the Minnesota native while he’s holding 9 assists in his last 8 games. To make that sweeter, 5 of those came on the power play, which he quarterbacks. He’s a minus player still, but Dallas was struggling. Now, they’ve won the last 3, and Goli’s posted a +4 rating over those games to shine on top of a pile of 5 assists. Many people seem unaware of the talented d-man’s recent play, so he’s still only owned in 37% of leagues, and still only rising slowly.

DEEPER LEAGUE FREE AGENTS (<25% ownership in Yahoo! leagues)

Tyler Johnson - TB - C - 19% owned with 16+18=34
Pickup of the Week among forwards and hairline runner up in general, T-Jo scored a hat trick in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Colorado. When a guy pops a hattie, people seem to flood in to their leagues to grab him, even if there’s not much to back it up. Fortunately, though, Tyler Johnson seems to have the stuff some guys lack. This shows in his 4 goals and 4 assists in his last 5 games to make 11 points in his last 11 games. Something that seems even harder to find is Johnson’s +17 rating, which he rose to with a +8 in those last 4 games. Yeah. And now he’s tied with Nathan MacKinnon for the tentative gold medal in rookie scoring with 34 points. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Johnson’s stat lines when Steven Stamkos returns, since Johnson has been centering Tampa’s top line next to Martin St. Louis, which is undoubtedly a pretty sweet spot. We all know who’s seat he’s sitting in.

Gustav Nyquist - Det - C,RW - 9% owned with 8+8=16
Nyquist was a big name when he was called up to help the Red Wings, and he did, well, okay. There were many injuries and he couldn’t always play with the playmaking Henrik Zetterberg. But now he is, and he’s posted 3 goals and 6 points with a +5 rating over 4 games. But it’s not all Big Z’s doing; the speedster Nyquist has been playing great hockey lately, and Babcock isn’t afraid to call it just that. He’s brought himself out of a colder spell, so hopefully he keeps this up. Oh, and look, he just scored against Florida.

Roman Josi - Nsh - D - 19% owned with 6+16=24
There are many d-men that I could go on about in this section (Jacob Trouba and Eric Gelinas among them), but I’ve gotta go with my man Roman Josi here for now. He’s been great while healthy this season and won’t be under the radar for long with 2 goals and 8 points in his last 6 games. He’s a pretty gross -9 on the season, but over those productive 6 games, Josi accumulated a +7. Josi’s not the guy to get you a bodypile of hits, but his 111 shots in 43 games is, for the most part, over the heads of other defensemen around his ownership level.

Andrej Sekera - car - D - 29% owned with 8+22=30
See above!

Carter Hutton - Nsh - G - 14% owned with 11W, 2.74 GAA, and .910 SV%
Sometimes what you need is for someone to come into your personal space and be like, "hey, what’s up my name’s Devan and I want to sit where you’re sitting please move over ok?" Since Dubnyk showed up on the Nashville scene, Hutton has won all 4 of his starts while owning a 1.72 GAA and a .944 SV%. Nashville is pretty responsible defensively, at least, so for a guy who’s owned in only 14% of Yahoo! leagues, Hutton is looking like he could be a much more valuable asset than what people are taking him for. Need a third?

THE MIDNIGHT SPECIALS (<5% owned in Yahoo! leagues)

Cody Eakin - Dal - D - 3% owned with 12+14=26
In the last 4 games, Eakin has 2 goals and 4 points, 4 penalty minutes, 2PPP, 13 shots on goal, and 4 hits. He might not be a deciding factor for your team in the long run, but Eakin has shown some good play recently on the Stars’ second line with Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt, owning 4 goals and 7 points in the last 9 games. He’s got a respectable 23 shots over that span, too, and 14 hits to go with them. Again, he’s not going to blow away your competition alone, but he could be a good add for deep teams working hard to grind it out with what’s available to them.

Nick Holden - Col - D - 1% owned with 4+7=11
Sampling one game alone can sometimes be like looking at a tiny skin-coloured spot on a vicious, misshapen mole and saying you’ve got nothing to worry about. That said, Nick Holden, then 0% owned, had an unreal night on January 18th. In 22:30 ice time, Holder had two goals, one assist, a +2 rating, 1 PPP, 5 shots, and 9 hits!!! 5 shots and 9 hits! And 3 points! Like, what’s up everyone that’s supposed to be better than him? How’s your life? Oh, right, it’s pretty good. Yeah. Okay, but Holden also followed up that game with an assist and 3 shots. I’m not here telling you to drop anyone for him, necessarily, but if you’re deep, needy leagueperson, have a look-see at this 26 year old fella, "Nick." If you’re not, I’d still keep an eye on him, anyway.