You’d imagine with teams reaching the 50-game mark in the season that serious fantasy players would know everyone there is to know about in the NHL, but whatever the level of the league you play in I can guarantee that there are some hidden gems available either on the waiver wire or that you can acquire cheaply via trade. So here are ten players who are currently flying under the radar, but whom I expect will draw a lot of attention during the next 30 games or so.
Daniel Paille is a former first round pick, selected 20th overall, but his progression has been slow and his performance unremarkable in the AHL. Sometimes it just takes time for players to develop and it looks like it’s the case for Paille who has become a solid player for the Sabres lately. He has scored 12 points in the last 13 games and surpassed 18 minutes of ice time in each of the last two games. He practically doesn’t receive any power play time, but if he continues to produce its just matter of time before that happens.
Jeff Carter was surpassed by Mike Richards this season despite the fact that Carter was the higher rated prospect. However, Carter isn’t to be forgotten and since December 21 he has scored a point in 12 out of 15 games totaling 15 points during that span including 9 goals. Despite the fact that there’s no room for him on the top power play unit, he has the talent to keep up the production…as long as the Flyers don’t sign Peter Forsberg.
Josh Harding hasn’t been given much attention in large part due to the fact that Niklas Backstrom had such a solid season debut winning 7 of his first 9 games and giving up more than two goals only twice in that span. However, Backstrom has been dealing with various ailments the past two months and has let in at least three goals in 7 of his last 10 games while Harding has given two goals or less in 4 of his last 5 games. Harding’s overall season stats are weakened by an 8 goal debacle in late December, but he has the goods to be an excellent number one goaltender and he has a chance to take over that role in Minnesota over the next few weeks.
Robert Nilsson just can’t get any respect. The former first round pick never received a real chance to prove himself with the Islanders and is having a hard time receiving decent ice time in Edmonton. However, he has done very well with the time he has received this season including posting an eight-game point streak in December. He scored a mere 2 points in his next seven games and once again became a forgotten player in most fantasy leagues, but with 7 points in his last 9 games, he once again deserves attention. His minutes are very high, but I think his talent will soon force the Oilers to give him a more important role.
Patrick O’Sullivan is due to score a lot more goals than he has done since he entered the NHL. He scored 47 goals as an AHL rookie in 2005-06 and followed that up with 18 goals in 41 games the next season before graduating to the NHL. However, in 94 NHL games O’Sullivan has put only 17 goals in the net despite 235 shots on goal. That’s a 7.23 shooting percentage which is awfully low considering that 261 players have a better shooting percentage than that this season. Despite the fact that he isn’t scoring enough goals, O’Sullivan has been putting up the points since early December with 17 points in 21 games.
Matthew Carle is one of the biggest busts of the 2007-08 season. After scoring 42 points last season, we all expected him to take it a step further and reach the 50-point mark if not the 60-point plateau. He started off the season on an average pace scoring six points in his first 15 games, but then went 15 games without a point and was a healthy scratch several times. However, he’s showing signs of turning it around with six points in the last 11 games. He might not be back to last year’s level, but he’ll definitely have fantasy value.
Andrei Kostitsyn numbers don’t look great overall, 29 points in 44 games is nothing to get excited about. But when you consider that he’s scored 21 points in his last 21 games, you’ve got something rather special. Kostitsyn will soon be a star in the NHL for many years to come.
Ville Koistinen scored 41 points in 59 AHL games last season, but he wasn’t considered as someone who might have fantasy value this season considering the depth on defense in Nashville. However, various injuries provided him with an opportunity and Koistinen made the most of it. In his last sixteen games, Koistinen has scored nine points, seven of them coming with the man advantage. Despite the return of Shea Weber, Koistinen continues to be part of the first power play unit.
Kim Johnsson had an awful season last year finishing with a mere 22 points. It was quite uncharacteristic after Johnsson had averaged half-a-point per game over the four previous seasons in Philadelphia. Despite the Wild’s more conservative style of play, Johnsson’s production was way poorer than expected. He started slow again this season, but has scored 12 points in 21 games since December 8.
Jack Johnson has been a victim of the numbers game in LA, but odds are pretty good that Rob Blake will get traded before the trade deadline. If that happens, Johnson’s role will increase dramatically as the Kings look to the future. He’s currently doesn’t play much on the power play, but Blake’s departure would allow him to spend more time on the ice with the man advantage.
Industry Experts League
It’s a close race for the top spot between myself and Rotowire’s Topper. As of January 23, Topper holds first place with a 103 points, a mere 0.5 points ahead of yours truly. We have put some distance with the rest of the teams and Rotowire’s McLarney is third with 81.5 points. DobberHockey’s Burnsy holds firm in the middle of the pack in seventh place.
We had our first trade of the season when TSN traded Jonathan Cheechoo to Sports Illustrated in return for Dustin Penner. Penner has had a much better season, but Cheechoo’s potential is much higher. Cheechoo is back on the top line in San Jose and could be in line for a strong finish. TSN is in sixth place and if they are to make a push for the top spot they need to gamble and Cheechoo is a good bet to make. Unfortunately for TSN, he also owns Sidney Crosby so his injury pretty much eliminated all hopes of TSN defending the Industry Experts League title won last year.
Questions for the Frog
Currently 6th in 10 team (64pts back),5 keeper (limit 1 goalie as a keeper), Yahoo H2H. Cats inclde: G, A, +/-, PPG, PPA, SHP, GWG, SOG, FW, W, L, GAA, SA, SV, SV%, SHO
Roster limit is 16 and we play 2 C, 2RW, 2LW, 3D, 1 utility and 2 goalies each night (min 3 goalie games per wk).
Current roster includes;
c-Getzlaf, Spezza, Backstrom
RW-Gaborik, Radulov, Kane
LW- Parise, Kariya,Straka,Carcillo (IR)
D-Neidermeyer, Jovo, Green, Boyle (IR)
G-Kipper, Lundqvist, Emery, Harding
Recently traded Vanek and 6th round pick next year for Lundqvist. Another owner has offered me Rolston, Thomas and his 6th round pick next year for my Spezza. Not sure I really need to make this trade. Spezz is really coming into his own and even with the injuries to Heater and Alfie is still great for the longterm. In fact I am considering dropping Harding and rolling with 3 goalies for the rest of the season. Spezza is definitley on the top of my keeper list but if I could get good value for him I could add Backstrom to my keeper list. His other goalies include Giggo, Turco and Legace. Would making a counter offer to include one of those three to further solidify my goaltending be worth it? Or should I just hang tight? Sometimes the best move is no move. - Keith
FROG: Definitely, the best move is no move in this case. Don't hesitate to drop Harding since you don't need him, but you are set in goal for the season with Kipper and Lundqvist. What I'd try to do is trade Radulov and Backstrom to get a superstar LW. Why do you have Carcillo if you don't count PIMs in your stats?
I’ve received a trade offer of Dipietro and Vanek for my Luongo. I need some offensive help, should I make this move, will Vanek turn things around soon? – Fred
FROG: There are no signs that point to Vanek playing like he did last season anytime soon. You are much better off keeping the top goaltender in the league and dipping in your free-agent pool for the best available help to improve your offense.