The start of the 2011-2012 NHL season is well and truly underway and many of you might be a bit disappointed with your fantasy squad at the moment. What you thought three weeks ago was an invincible team has now been returned back to Earth with a thud. Keep in mind that it’s only three weeks into the season and there’s still plenty of time left to compete for the title come April. This week I’ll list off a few players that were largely ignored at the draft table, but may provide you with a much needed shot in your arm for your fantasy squad.
Martin Hanzal – C - Phoenix
Derek Zoolander’s favourite nemesis makes my list as a potential roster booster, as he has notched five points and more importantly 22 SOG in the first seven contests of the 2011-12 season. On top of that he’s averaging a decent 19:57 and a whopping 4:15 on the man advantage per contest for the desert dogs. Not only does Hanzal contribute solely on the point’s front, but he also has pretty decent peripheral stats (19 HIT and 62 FW) to boot, which seriously reminds me of a Ryan Kesler v2. Kesler had his breakout during his fifth season with the Nucks while registering 59 points in 82 contests. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hanzal followed along the same path while posting similar numbers by season’s end. He’s currently severely under-rated, while only being owned in seven percent of Yahoo! leagues. If you are desperately looking for help up the middle, definitely take a swing at Hanzal.
Dave Bolland – C - Chicago
Much like Hanzal, Bolland has flown under-the-radar so far this campaign. He’s quietly posted six points in six contests and is really showing a lot of chemistry on Chicago’s third line alongside Bryan Bickell and Micheal Frolik. He won’t ever overtake the big four of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa or Patrick Sharp in overall team scoring, but he could settle nicely in fifth place with a fantasy relevant 50-55 point campaign. At 13 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, he should still be widely available on your waiver wire.
Guillaume Latendresse – LW - Minnesota
Much of the early season attention in Minny has gone to the “big named” top-line of Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Devin Setoguchi, but surprisingly the second line of Matt Cullen, Latendresse and Brett Bulmer/P.M. Bouchard has actually been more productive.
During the final two seasons of juniors, Latendresse registered 161 points in 116 contests with the Voltigeurs, which does show that he has a bit of offensive upside. If he can manage to remain relatively healthy this campaign, a fantasy roster worthy season isn’t out of the question. If you are looking for some depth in the LW position, who could possibly chip in 50-55 points along with 180+ HITs, strongly give Latendresse a whirl.
Ryan O’Reilly – C - Colorado
The trio of O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog and Daniel Winnik have spent significant time (71.8 percent of O’Reilly’s overall ice-time), together during the start of this season. This has resulted in O’Reilly currently leading the team in scoring with seven points (all assists). It’s probably too much to ask for him to maintain his current pace throughout the entire season, but an end of year result of 45-50 points probably isn’t too much to expect given the ice-time that he’s received. If Hanzal and Bolland are both owned at the moment, then O’Reilly probably isn’t a bad third option.
Daniel Winnik – LW - Colorado
Pretty much ditto to the paragraph above. Don’t expect the moon from Winnik, as he’s just not built to be a huge offensive threat (career 0.28 point-per-game average), but if you’re looking for the all-illusive short-handed points, then Winnik probably deserves some serious consideration (eight career SHP). He is currently averaging 3:11 per contest short-handed which ranks 17th overall amongst all forwards in the league. Add that to the fact that he’s also not shy at putting pucks towards the net (2.63 SOG per contest). Winnik could be a valuable own to help secure some of those non-traditional stats. He could very well put up 35-40 points riding shotgun to O’Reilly and Landeskog all season long.
David Jones – RW – Colorado
If you take a look at the snippet taken from hockeypoolgeek, there’s one name that kind of sticks out. You have your Marian Gaborik’s, Alex Semin’s, and Jaromir Jagr’s but to see Jones in the mix is certainly surprising. He has the potential to become a 30-goal scorer someday, but the major roadblock for him has always been the injury bug. Jones has a career 17.7 shooting percentage, and if he can manage to maintain that rate while registering 150+ SOG, a 30-goal season might just be within reach. He’s been attached to Paul Stastny’s hip (86.25 percent of his shifts according to Frozen Pool), and that should certainly help boost the point totals lining up alongside such a quality playmaker. If you’re in desperate need for some help on the RW, give Jones a shot.
Shawn Horcoff – C - Edmonton
After battling injuries during the last couple of years, it appears that Horcoff is finally healthy and ready to lead the young gun charge this campaign. He’s garnering significant PP time alongside Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle and is certainly playing with much more gusto than he has in the past. Horc’s 85 FW ranks him fifth overall in the league, while his 57.4 FW winning percentage is currently tied for 12th overall. If your league has a heavy emphasis on faceoff wins, it might be a smart idea to roll the dice with Horcoff.
Douglas Murray – D – San Jose
If you’re going to utilize Murray for your fantasy squad, then you’re probably not going to snag him for his offensive upside. Murray currently has a whopping 15 HIT along with 16 BS in just six contests. If you pro-rate that over the course of a full season, you’re looking at an end of season total of 205 HITs and 218 BS, which would be huge for fantasy leagues that are recording those two peripheral stats. If you’re looking for a big boost in that department look no further than the 31-year old Swede.
Corey Potter – D - Edmonton
Potter has come out of nowhere to really burst onto the Edmonton scene this campaign. In five contests, he’s posted three points and 11 SOG all while averaging 19:57 (3:36 of which is on the PP), per game. The 27-year old veteran actually has a pretty long professional history. He was drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round way back in the 2003 NHL entry draft. Potter’s since spent a couple of years in the NCAA, and then followed that up with five years seasoning in the AHL with Hartford and Wilkes-Barre. With his stellar play, the Oilers now have a pretty tough decision to make on which players to utilize on their blue-line as they currently have seven (Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney, Cam Barker, Ladislav Smid, Andy Sutton, Theo Peckham and now Potter), NHL quality players, but only six roster spots to utilize. Either way if he can continue to post numbers like this in the NHL, he won’t be re-joining the Barons in Oklahoma any time soon.
James Wisniewski – D - Columbus
Many poolies left Wissy for dead after he was dropped with a hammer with an eight game suspension for a “dirty” pre-season hit. The Jackets are desperately in need of a puck-moving blue-liner and Wissy might just provide that much needed punch when he returns on Tuesday night against the Red Wings. At just 68 percent Yahoo! owned, he’s probably still sitting on the waiver wire beckoning to be owned in many fantasy leagues. Make sure you double check your leagues to see if he’s still dangling out there in free agency.
Kyle Quincey – D - Colorado
Quincey has been on a bit of a hot streak while tallying four points during the last four contests. He currently ranks behind only Erik Johnson in terms of PP ice-time (2:13 per contest) for all of the Avs’ blue-liners. Another positive is that he ranks behind only Landeskog in the entire team in terms of SOG with 25 in eight games. Add that to the fact that he has averaged 1.43 HITs and 1.67 BS per contest during the last three seasons which that makes Quincey is a valuable across-the-board own in many fantasy pools. If you’re struggling as a Drew Doughty, Niklas Kronwall, Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk or Brent Seabrook owner, I’d strongly consider Quincey as a viable alternative.
Brian Elliott – G – St. Louis
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Jaroslav Halak as a potential make-or-break player for this campaign. So far I’m not entirely wrong that he’s probably ruining a few fantasy seasons at the moment. I mentioned during that article about his home/away splits from last season (Halak owned a 17-10-5 record along with a 2.10 GAA and .923 save percentage at home compared to a 10-11-2 record along with a dreadful 3.01 GAA and .894 save percentage away from the Scotttrade Center), and a similar problem seems to be haunting him once again. This season it’s status quo, as he has splits of 1-1-0, 2.53 GAA and .844 SP at home vs. 0-3-0, 4.18 GAA and .831 SP on the road. The difference this year is that he now has Brian Elliott (2.06 GAA and .935 SP), chomping at the bit to re-establish himself as a number one in the league playing behind him, whereas last campaign he didn’t really have much competition. If you are a Halak owner, now might be the time to hit the panic button and snag Elliott as a handcuff before it’s too late.
Questions or comments? As always I’ll be ready and willing to discuss them with you in the comments section below. See ya next week.