- Category: Fantasy Hockey Top 10
Top 10 buy-low candidates in fantasy hockey keeper leagues
With the NHL trade deadline in two days, many fantasy leagues also have their own trade deadlines this week. Just like their NHL counterparts, this is an important time of year, as this is when championships are won, and non-playoff teams try to improve their keepers.
While none of the 10 guys listed below may be traded in the NHL (or is even rumoured to be), that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of a few general managers to get guys you think are due for a turnaround after a tumultuous season.
Whether you’re trying to win this year, or wanting to improve your fantasy team for next year and beyond, here are the top 10 buy low candidates:
10. Cam Ward
I've never been a believer in the whole "Cam Ward is an elite goalie" thing, but Ward is getting roasted a bit too much this year by poolies and his value has never been lower. It is a very opportune time to pick up the five-time 30-game winner. He's got a big contract and a great playoff track record, and he'll be a number one goalie for a few years.
I've covered him before in a Forensics column. I still have no idea why he's having such a down year. He's getting lots of power play time, lots of ice time and playing with linemates who are scoring. He's just not getting the points. This should turn around, and even if not for this year, he is be a good defenceman to stash on your keeper team for next season. Five years ago, he put up 50 points. Four years ago he put up 50 points. Three years ago he was injured, but was on pace for 44 points. Last year he was injured, but was on a 56-point pace. This year, he's on pace for 26 points. At this stage, I'm willing to chalk this season up to being an anomaly, and believe Enstrom will return to a 50-point pace next year.
8. Dustin Brown
Brown has started to turn it on since the Olympic break, with four points in his first three games back. He's had a pretty tough year, but the guy was pretty much as consistent as you could get before this season. Five seasons in a row he put up at least 50 points, last year he was on pace for 51. So this year's 26-point pace is an aberration. While he does contribute in other categories (his hits and shots are down a little, but he’s about to set a career high in penalty minutes) his point production is what makes him stand out over a Cal Clutterbuck. The Kings can't be a defensive-minded team forever, so look for him to recover.
Pretty much anyone on the Sabres is a buy low candidate at the moment, but Grigorenko may be the lowest of them all. Since Buffalo has mishandled him the last two seasons, he no longer counts as a rookie protect for many leagues, but if you have a farm system, maybe you can stash him there. Regardless, he's been dynamite in juniors (11 goals and 22 points in his first 15 games). He just needs some time to figure it out. In the meantime, get him cheap before he becomes a 70-point threat.
6. Nail Yakupov
There have only been two bright sides thus far to Yakupov's season: he no longer has the worst plus-minus in the league (thank you, Mike Weber), and you can get for realitively cheap in many leagues. While some people may believe he's a KHL-flight risk, I believe he's just a 19-year-old player going through some growing pains. In the meantime, take advantage of owners who have soured on him and stash him on your team. If you are patient enough, you will soon reap the rewards.
5. Alex Edler
It's somewhat worrying that Edler is having such a poor season. At 27 years old, he should be hitting his prime. But there are other factors in play: a new coach with a new system, forwards who can't score (the top line of the Sedin twins and Alexandre Burrows haven’t scored in 20-plus games each), and Jason Garrison has taken a lot of ice time and powerplay shots. Edler is too talented to let this continue for another season, perhaps a new team is just what the doctor ordered, in both real life and fantasy.
4. Rick Nash
This has got to be the most frustrating season for Nash owners. A bona fide goal scorer, Nash is on pace for 53 points based on playing a full season. Those 53 points would be his worst season since he put up 39 as a rookie back in 2002-03. Since Nash missed 17 games, he won't get close to that without a crazy scoring streak to finish the season. Nash is only 29 years old, so he still has some more good seasons left in him. More importantly, you can take advantage of fantasy general managers who have soured on him.
3. Jimmy Howard
A lot of poolies are down on Howard, and believe he's not that great a goalie and has only benefitted from the Red Wings system. To that I say, who cares? As long as he gets you points and helps you win a pool, does it really matter what team he plays for? Of course not. After a rough start to the season (just six wins in his first 23 starts), Howard has started to rebound. Since being named to the U.S. Olympic team, he's 7-4-1, and has won three of his last four. Now that he's healthy, he'll be the number one guy down the stretch and help the Wings to reach the playoffs.
The ultimate Band-Aid boy (with apologies to Marty Havlat), Gaborik has two 40-goal campaigns in the last five years, and when healthy, can still pile up points. In 12 games with Columbus last year, he had eight points. This year he has 13 points in 19 games. The worst-case scenario is you trade for him, and he gets injured again. The best-case scenario is he stays healthy and gets 15 points in the last 20 games (totally doable). There's also a chance he gets traded, or signs with a new team in the offseason. So he could see himself surrounded by much-better talent next season.
He pretty much runs the gauntlet when it comes to a buy-low player. High-paid so less incentive to play hard? Check. Long-term deal? Check. Lazy? Check. Russian? Check. But the fact of the matter is Semin is just one year removed from a point-per-game season. He's got crazy talent, and like Gaborik, is one of just 13 players to have a 40-goal season in the past five years. With the right chemistry with the right linemates, he’s a point-per-game player.
There are plenty of other buy-low candidates, but most of the players on this list have recent examples of success, and shouldn’t cost a lot if you’re willing to take a chance on them.
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