Niklas Hagman

With most leagues either entering the playoffs or racing to the regular season finish, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at some of the Western Conference sleepers that can help you in the one category you need most. In crunch time, what waiver-wire players can you turn to in order to get that one stat you need to put you over the top?

We aren’t going to look at goalie stats because tenders are usually all taken anyway. I will also avoid points because if there was ever a category fantasy players won’t ignore, it would be points. Here are some of the specializing players in a few other categories that can just as easily carry you to a win at the end of the week. Remember these are hopefully sleepers and waiver wire players… not universally owned specialized stars.

If he was healthy, Marek Svatos would easily be the choice here. At one point that kid had 20 goals and only 2 assists. Only recently has a assist streak carried him to a more normal percentage. Still, when talking about healthy Western Conference…

Niklas Hagman, LW, DAL
This guy has been a yo-yo in many leagues this season. Up and down from fantasy squad to free agency, Hagman has done one thing well. He can score goals. With 25 so far this season, 67% of Niklas’ points have rattled the cage. Only Svatos and the heavily owned Sharp and Boyes have fewer than 20 assists and more goals than Hagman.
Honorable Mentions: Johan Franzen- 16 goals for 69% of points; Devin Setoguchi- 11 goals for 69% of points

Dan Hamhuis, D, NSH
A preseason sleeper, Hamhuis has disappointed some fantasy owners to the point where he has been discarded in many leagues. Still, as with many defensemen, he has been good in the assists department while extremely lacking in goals and other stats. He is truly one dimensional with 21 of his 24 points being assists for 87% of his total. As a former 1st round pick he still has the ability to bounce back as a bit of a post-hype bargain and can surely help you if assists are what you need most in the short term. Considering the competition in Nashville, he still puts up respectable numbers.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Peca- 25 assists for 83% of points; Kim Johnsson- 21 assists for 91% of points

Kent Huskins, D, ANH
No surprise here. It makes sense to see an auxiliary player from a team with a stacked defense like Anaheim’s. Huskins is able to take full advantage with a great plus/minus yet very little in the scoring department. He has 17 points and is the only player in the Western Conference to be beyond plus-20 but not have over 20 points.
Honorable Mentions: Douglas Murray- Plus-16 with only 10 points; Kurt Sauer- Plus-13 with only 6 points

Penalty Minutes:
Adam Burish, RW, CHI
I haven’t noticed a lot of talk about the #3 player in penalty minutes this year. Is it because he only has 6 points? Is it the minus-12 that scares buyers off? Is it the relatively measly 59 shots on goal? Well it is probably all of the above but with 188 PIM this year, I’d say he is a great option if you need that category going into the weekend of a matchup.
Honorable Mentions: Zach Stortini- 180PIM, 8 points, 30 SOG; George Parros- 176 PIM, 5 points, 25 SOG

Power-Play Points:
Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, ANH
For years, MAB has possessed a most mysterious value. Extremely streaky and easily benched, Bergeron has now found himself on one of the best teams in the league. Though is opportunities may be slim on this team, it is still interesting to point out how much Bergeron has counted on the power play with his previous team in order to contribute. With a total of 18 points this season, MA produced 14 of them on the power play. Thus, this is actually a player you may want to steer clear of now that he is in Anaheim as I’m not sure how often he will see the prime time. His point production was a whopping 78% based on the man advantage.
Honorable Mentions: Sami Salo- 14 PPP for 74% of points; Niko Kapanen- 14 PPP for 58% of points

Short-Handed Points:
Rene Bourque, LW, CHI
This beast of the disadvantaged is tied for 4th with 7 shorties this season. That makes for a whopping 33% of his total 21 points. Maybe this former sleeper prospect hasn’t disappointed after all… well yeah he did but still.
Honorable Mentions: Stu Barnes- 5 SHP for 26% of points; Jerred Smithson- 4 SHP for 29% of points

Shots On Goal:
Stephane Robidas, D, DAL
Though he has been at best average in other statistics, Stephan has contributed 126 shots on goal for his few and far between fantasy owners. With as difficult as it can sometimes be to find solid scoring defensemen, it is sometimes players like these that need to get a little more attention for their prowess in auxiliary stats.
Honorable Mentions: Rob Blake- 126 SOG; Tyler Arnason- 150 SOG

The Status Report:

Sell High:
Jose Theodore, G, COL
Having just fallen off the wagon of a six-game winning streak, Jose’s value is approaching a height it hasn’t in years. I wouldn’t hesitate to cash in if you have the opportunity. This gamble is just too shaky considering his history and still capable competition. His 2.21 GAA and 920 SV% of the past month really aren’t too realistic anyway in my mind. Go ahead and play it safe and move him along.

Buy Low:
Joe Thornton, C, SJ
Super Joe is number three in the league in scoring and I’m calling him a buy low? Hell yeah! He is on pace for under 100 points for the first time in the “New” NHL. He has recently heated up with 13 points in his last 9 games which would put him back at a 120-point pace so perhaps this is the time to catch his usual late season surge. After all, he did have 24 points in March last season.

Patrick Kane, C, CHI
Just as the rookie race heats up, Kane gets back in the saddle and makes his bid to maintain his crown. After a two in six games slump, Kane has again bounced back with seven in five. Owners were truly spoiled early on when he began the season with 16 points in 12 games. It was nearly impossible to get him then but perhaps his general slowdown has given you the crack you need to pry him away before he becomes the consistent 90-point threat he can be.

Dustin Byfuglien, D, CHI
I bet you are glad you held on to Dustin. The big bloomer had a great past week and surely helped many teams push their way into the fantasy playoffs. Contributing four points in his last four games, I think Byfuglien has finally pushed past the flash in the pan status many feared. He now has 16 goals and 31 points as a rookie in only 56 games. Now if he could have only avoided that 4-point, 16-game slump.

From the Dust: The player who may have some value after all.
Erik Ersberg, G, LA
With a shutout in only his second start in the NHL, fantasy teams were forced to take notice. Though he wasn’t exactly dominant for the Monarchs, you have to keep an eye on any goalie getting opportunities in the NHL… especially when LA has no better options.

Young Guns: The future of the West.
Corey Crawford, G, CHI
Here is another goaltender with a great opportunity and a shutout to show for it. This time, it game in his first game of the season. The shutout came against the mighty Anaheim Ducks, but he did face only 19 shots. Crawford has a bit more of a pedigree than the Swede above and a clearly better season in the AHL. With Khabi hurt and Lalime looking average recently, the 23-year-old Crawford looks like as good a bet as any. His numbers sure look spectacular right now with a sub-two GAA in the early going.


Cactus of the Week: The player you shouldn’t touch right now.
Peter Forsberg, C, COL
Groin injury. Need I say more? This is somewhat comical really. I hope you traded him after those two points. Truly, though I doubt it, I really hope he can find a way to be healthy. It would be great for the league.


Fantasy Flashback: Your weekly reminder that fantasy hockey is a rollercoaster.
Brian Campbell, D, SJ
It is nice to have another star to enjoy in the Western Conference. As shown in the ramblings, Campbell has greeted San Jose fans with some great moves and production. This is truly his breakout season as you will see.

2006-07: 82GP, 6G, 42A, 48P, +28, 35PIM, 9PPP, 92 SOG
2007-08: 70GP, 6G, 43A, 49P, +2, 16PIM, 25PPP, 117SOG

Campbell just passed his previous career high in points from a season ago. With his increased involvement this year, his power-play points have really increased but the struggling Buffalo did really damage his plus/minus. Still, with 12 games fewer, Campbell has already achieved his best season yet.


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