Get your minds out of the gutter, folks
Author: Jhett Folk – Contributor
So you called your team “Boats ‘n Hossa.” Kudos, you won best team name in the draft. The problem still lies in the fact that you don’t win a fantasy hockey league on just style points, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t be silly, Crosby and Ovechkin are gone and you’re not going to be able to pick them up on the waiver wire. You are in luck, however, because I know a couple of sneaky good pickups you could make that could take your fantasy hockey team from pretender to contender. Listen up “Everyday I’m Byfuglien”, because I’m about to solidify your forwards, defence and goaltending with some slick adds and drops.
Alright, so I may be stretching a bit on the first piece of advice, but if you’re lucky, you may still be able to snag one of these guys. The Arizona Coyotes are a hurting unit, not good, bad, really bad; however, they have one powerhouse of a line. Martin Hanzal, whose former career-high in points is 40, is looking like a whole new player who is capable of shattering his previous high alongside line mates Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. I tend to avoid talking up rookies when giving fantasy advice, but these guys on the same line mesh better than some lines that have been together in the league for years. If you have the opportunity, grab one of these guys ASAP and don’t let them go. (Honourable mention to old man, Shane Doan.)
Edmonton is another extremely questionable team this season. They’ve got the fire to shoot the lights out with the big dogs but, as always, the question is whether their defense and goaltending can keep up or not. With all of this firepower, it’s easy to think the wealth will be shared as far as goal scoring goes, and so not all the forwards will get their fair share. Though this very well may be the case, I thoroughly believe this is the year we see Nail Yakupov take the next step in his NHL career. The kid has far too much potential to pass up thinking about picking him up. His only downfall is plus/minus, which is exactly why I don’t use plus/minus in my league. He will likely eclipse 30 goals this season as he will spend majority of the season on a line with Connor McJesus. Granted, in some leagues he may have been drafted by the one guy in your league who actually likes the Oilers, but if not I’d say snatch him up real quick.
Look, I’m sorry “Benn and Snap,” but it’s time to let Valeri Nichuskin go. I get it; he’s a former top-ten pick on a team that loves to score, and he’s supposed to play with Benn and Seguin. Here’s the thing: he won’t. The Stars are priming their young winger to be an effective part of their future, not their present. Valeri will be spending a lot of time in the press box this season. This is mostly because of Seguin’s willingness to move to the wing to allow Spezza to be the first line center. The play of Ales Hemsky, Patrick Sharp, and Antoine Roussel (amongst others) has not gone unnoticed by the Stars coaching staff either, and their minutes are only going to go up. It’s hard to mesh in a lineup with savvy vets that are playing well when you’re a young buck trying to make a name for yourself. I believe Nichuskin will eventually be a part of the Stars’ forward corps. But, I don’t think he will be an effective fantasy player, and that’s the whole point of this article.
If “Zetterbergers and Fries” hasn’t picked up Danny DeKeyser yet, you need to steal this guy now. He likely went undrafted in your league because he was injured heading into the season. He’s slotted to jump into a top-four D role in Detroit, likely skating alongside notoriously offensive Mike Green. Last season, in a mere top-six role in Detroit, DeKeyser was able to post nearly 30 assists. This kid should light it up this year, especially considering the firepower he’s got in front of him. That Nyquist guy likes to score, and I mean Zetterberg is okay at hockey. Danny is the biggest sleeper on most waiver wires right now; go get him.
“Scarlet is Ryan’s Sister,” be honest, did you take David Savard thinking he’d post another 35+ point season. For shame if you did! Don’t get me wrong, the defender is a solid all-around hockey player, but he’s not exactly made to replicate his point totals. Savard is entrusted with high minute totals, but these are usually against the opposing teams’ top lines, which really makes it tough for the guy to produce. Savard had the leisure of being relatively unknown last season and had nothing but relatively easy minutes against weaker competition to pad the stats sheet. After playing the way he did last season, Columbus came to realize what they had in the guy and he’s become far more entrusted for defensive play rather than offensive ability. I’d suggest dropping him if you aren’t desperate at defense.
My final piece of advice is: if you have an open spot on your bench, or an easily replaceable player, think about grabbing a backup goalie on a very good team such as the New York Rangers or Nashville Predators. If a starting goalie bows out with injury, these pickups can win you the draft. The teams in front of the goalies don’t get any weaker, so the wins usually will continue to role in. This is more a strategy for teams that need to roll the dice to try to win because certain players you drafted just aren’t panning out the way they should have.
If I am wrong about any of my advice tweet me at @JhettFolk18 and tell me how dumb I am. Best of luck in your hockey endeavours, couch managers!