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Ryan Ma looks at a few early season sleeper picks who are performing well.


Sorry for the brief hiatus, with the lockout and getting hitched, I haven’t had much time to concentrate much on hockey during the past couple of months, but now I’m back and chomping champing at the bit to get back into the swing of things.


This shortened season has changed the traditional way of approaching the typical fantasy hockey season. With only 48 games scheduled per team, each start makes a huge difference to the overall picture of the season. Injuries or cold streaks need to be avoided like the bubonic plague, or the very least you need to be prepared enough to have backup plans in place in case they do happen to hit your team. Here a few a few bargain bin players who should be kept in consideration if you’re dealing with injuries or slow starters.



Andy McDonald – C- St. Louis Blues (18 percent Yahoo! owned)

McDonald is a “band aid boy”, and there’s little argument to debate otherwise. The main question is whether or not a shortened season will help alleviate his usual band aid boy-ness or will it be much of the same. As I mentioned earlier in the column, in a shortened season, you have to alter your “normal” approach to fantasy hockey. In 48 games, there’s little room to dilly dally and spend days to mull over a decision. You have to grab the bull by the horns and just run with it, and McDonald is one of these cases. Yes, the Blues are an “offense-by-committee” team, but where you have to look for advantages is who’s their most trusted on the power play. McDonald garners the second most PP time on the Blues and trails only Alex Steen. St. Louis is also the third ranked team in terms of PP efficiency. You add two and two together and you have a formula for success. If the worst case scenario happens, and McDonald hits the IR again, well look for the next best option then. Why not ride McDonald while he’s hot and cast him aside when he’s not?  


Nazem Kadri – C- Toronto (two percent Yahoo! owned)

Funny how things have changed in such a short period of time. A couple of months ago, Kadri was being slammed for being “too fat” and “unfit” for training camp, and a few months down the track and he’s currently one of the Leafs best players. His seasonal ice-time average is still fairly low as he’s averaging just 14:38 overall per contest, but if you dig a little deeper into the numbers, during the last three contests, he’s actually been averaging 16:52 with 3:14 of which was on the power play. He also has eight hits, which will certainly help out poolies who use this as a category in their leagues. Centers are generally fairly easy to find, but keep a close eye on Kadri for the next few contests.  


Right Wings

Vladimir Tarasenko – RW- St. Louis Blues (18 percent Yahoo! owned)

Tarasenko is off to a hot start with eight points in six contests. One of the major positives is that he has also reeled off 21 SOG during those contests, highlighting how unafraid he is of shooting the puck. According to FrozenPool, Tarasenko is currently on the ice for 48.7 percent of the Blues’ power play opportunities, which is a significant amount for a rookie. The catch is that coach Ken Hitchcock likes to distribute his ice-time fairly evenly amongst his forwards, which isn’t exactly conducive to producing high-end fantasy products. So tread carefully if you are thinking of taking a leap of faith on the young Russian.





T.J. Oshie



David Backes



Alex Steen



David Perron



Andy McDonald



Patrick Berglund



Vladimir Tarasenko



Chris Stewart



Michael Grabner – RW – New York Islanders (seven percent Yahoo! owned)

Grabner now has six points in six contests and is leading the team in plus/minus with a plus-five rating as well as SOG with 19. He’s currently settling in nicely on the Isles second line with Brad Boyes and Frans Nielsen. One drawback is that he’s not garnering top unit PP time. If he can ever get onto that top unit, his offensive production to really take off. Now might be a great time to make a pre-emptive strike in picking him up on the cheap before his price sky rockets.   


Left Wing

Cory Conacher – LW – Tampa Bay Lightning (zero percent Yahoo! owned)

It’s completely unfathomable that Conacher is ZERO percent owned at the moment! He shares the same amount of points as Zach Parise (100%), Jason Pominville (92%), Logan Couture (96%) and Patrick Kane (99%), all of which are essentially household names amongst poolies. So, it’s completely surprising to see Conacher barely even touched in fantasy leagues. According to FrozenPool, he’s currently spending 68.2 percent of his overall ice-time alongside Vinny Lecavalier. When you consider someone spending that much time alongside such a star player, the points will surely come. Add Conacher right away if you have a roster spot, you won’t regret it.   


Daniel Winnik – LW – Anaheim Ducks (one percent Yahoo! owned)

Winnik is storming out of the gates as he’s leading the Ducks with seven points in five contests. He’s garnering 17:59 per contest which ranks third amongst all Anaheim forwards behind only Ryan Getzlaf (21:43) and Corey Perry (20:17) and more than Bobby Ryan (17:00) and Saku Koivu (16:31). Bruce Boudreau is the type of coach who loves rewarding his “top producing” players, so as long as Winnik can continue to produce on the scoreboard he’ll continue to receive plenty of opportunities. If you’re looking for a quick short-term plug on your LW, then strongly consider Winnik.    



Andrei Markov – D– Montreal Canadiens (66 percent Yahoo! owned)

Markov might be little bit harder to acquire in your leagues, but he should still be available on the waiver wire in two-thirds one-third of the leagues out there. There’s always an injury risk with him, but given that it’s a short season and the offensive opportunities that he’s currently receiving (25:03 with 5:02 on the man advantage per contest), in Montreal, there’s little risk in taking a gamble on Markov moving forward. He should see even more of an offensive boost with P.K. Subban inking a new two-year contract. Those two should garner plenty of PP time together on the Habs top unit.  


Raphael Diaz – D– Montreal Canadiens (zero percent Yahoo! owned)

Can you tell me who are the top-three blue-liners in terms of assists are at the moment? I’ll give you a hint, look at the bolded name above. Yes, I too had a “what the” moment, when I looked up the numbers while researching for this column and saw that Diaz is only one assist behind league leader Kevin Shattenkirk in terms of assists by a defenseman. I wrote about Diaz about a year ago, but I can’t seem to locate the column, but I had this exact table.



Mark Streit

Raphael Diaz

Roman Josi


24 in 37

13 in 50

Eight in 35


36 in 48

31 in 49

24 in 42


43 in 44

39 in 45

21 in 26

NHL (rookie)

11 in 48

16 in 59

16 in 52

NHL (sophomore)

36 in 76

Seven in five

Zero in six


Can you spot the similarities between the three? Diaz is legit and definitely worth taking a flier on especially if you are desperately looking for help on your backend.


Sami Salo – D– Tampa Bay Lightning (seven percent Yahoo! owned)

Salo appears to be a new man in TB, as he has rejuvenated his game in the 2012-13 campaign. He currently leads the league in terms of plus/minus (which is always a hard stat to try to cater for), and is also contributing in a variety of categories such as points, SOG and blocked shots. Salo is also garnering plenty of offensive chances, as he’s on the ice for close to 50 percent of Tampa’s power play opportunities. Once again if you’re looking for help on the blue-line definitely give Salo a thought.   




Chad Johnson – G– Phoenix Coyotes (zero percent Yahoo! owned)

Johnson snagged his first career NHL shut out on Monday night, which could be sign of things to come. One thing that I will never doubt is Dave Tippett’s defensive scheme. I have learned a long time ago that his defensive system works like a charm no matter which goalie is between the pipes. Johnson fell into the right situation with Mike Smith nursing a “lower body” injury, which has given him a prime opportunity to perhaps steal the backup gig away from Jason LaBarbera. He’ll most likely be returned back to the minors once Smith proves that he’s healthy enough to return, but why not consider him as a short term option to help pad the stats.    


Sergei Bobrovsky – G – Columbus Blue Jackets (34 percent Yahoo! owned)





Sergei Bobrovsky




Steve Mason





Keep in mind we’re about an eighth into the 2012-13 season, if you wait another week then we’re about a fifth into this fantasy campaign, which doesn’t leave you a lot of room to adjust if you’re finding yourself near the bottom of the league ladder, which brings me to this following plug.


I’ve decided (with a few of my fellow Dobberities) to toss my hat into the fantasy hockey ring and start a new pet project. Basically I’m developing a fantasy hockey news app, which will be available in the Apple iTunes store and Android market within a week (hopefully). Essentially, it’ll cover daily fantasy news, plus the most comprehensive coverage of “fantasy advice” available on the web (very similar to what you just read in this column). As of now, it just exists as a website, so if you want to take a quick gander at the webpage, like our Facebook page: FantasyHockeyPP or even follow us on Twitter @FantasyhockeyPP it would be greatly appreciated.


Should you be so inclined, follow me on Twitter if you think that my article/tweets are useful.


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Comments (14)add comment

Dakkster said:

... Of my pure centers, Stepan and Bolland are tops right now. That's not good.
January 31, 2013
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Yahoo! owned percentage You could be right Crazyinvader, when I was looking at the numbers I was thrown by a few of these... Hopefully they fix it soon so we don't run into this problem again.
January 31, 2013
Votes: +1

Ryan Ma said:

Dakkster Yeah I'm finding it much harder to with the Cs this season too, I think it's across the board to be honest.
January 31, 2013
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Buy Low Candidates Might be a good topic for my next column. I'll take that into consideration
January 31, 2013
Votes: +1

Ryan Ma said:

Two-Thirds = one third Doh! Thanks for the pick up corrected now.
January 31, 2013
Votes: +0

Crazy Invader said:

Crazy Invader
Yahoo % Owned is broken The "% Owned" section of the Yahoo! Player List is broken. To find out the actual percentage owned, click the player notes beside each name. You'll find McDonald is actually 56% owned, Kadri is 27% owned, Tarasenko is 85% owned, etc.

I think the percentages that % Owned section is displaying is what they were at the beginning of the season.
January 31, 2013
Votes: +2

Dakkster said:

... "It’s completely unfathomable that Conacher is ZERO percent owned at the moment! He shares the same amount of points as Zach Parise (100%), Jason Pominville (92%), Logan Couture (96%) and Patrick Kane (99%)"

And I have Conacher, Parise, Pominville and Kane on my team smilies/cheesy.gif

Now, if only my centers would pick it up... looking at you Kopitar and Backstrom!
January 31, 2013
Votes: +0

Sheepdogged said:

Bargain Bin? I don't see any of these players available in my league. I would assume that anyone who comes to this site for information is well on top of their game or in a league that is top notch. I suppose it's hard to discern the legit FHL yahoo leagues from the poser FHL yahoo leagues. Still, the information you tied to each player in the list is priceless. Thanks for the hard work.
January 31, 2013
Votes: +1

ZamboniNation said:

doh! Every single player mentioned is gone in my main league.... be nice to see an article about 2nd tier (non studs) slow starters / buy low players to target..
January 31, 2013
Votes: +2

newfcollins said:

... "Markov might be little bit harder to acquire in your leagues, but he should still be available on the waiver wire in two-thirds of the leagues out there."

If Markov is owned in 66% of the leagues, that means he's only available in one-third.
January 31, 2013
Votes: +1

Ryan Ma said:

Chomping Thanks for the correct sanstanya, always appreciated, fixed!
January 31, 2013
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Conacher Wow that shot up in a hurry, I swear I read 0% last night when I was writing the column... Thanks for the update Nifty!
January 31, 2013
Votes: +0

sanstanya said:

Little known fact... that I'm not sure why I even know or that anyone will care,'s "champing" not "chomping."
Glad I got that off my chest smilies/wink.gif

Good to have you back.
January 31, 2013
Votes: +1

Nifty Mittens said:

Nifty Mittens
... Conacher is 55% owned
January 31, 2013
Votes: +0
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