Breaking it down by stat categories, here are some players that could give your fantasy team a boost as the 2011-2012 season is underway.
Waiver wire and free agency varies amongst leagues, often due to differences in size, league type (roto or head-to-head), which service is used, and many other factors as well; but generally speaking if a player can help you out in one league, he can help you out in the next.
Based off my own (yahoo, 12 person, head-to-head) league, and the fantasy activity I’ve witnessed around the Internet this season, here are some players I would consider adding, if possible:
The offensive minded guys- if these guys are still available, hop on them, and do it fast!
Vinny Prospal: Eligible at both left wing and center, Prospal might be worth a look if offense is what you need, and if he hasn’t been claimed yet already. In the past he’s been viewed as a power play dynamo, though he hasn’t produced as much on the special teams this season, with only four of his 14 total points coming on the man advantage. That being said, Prospal has collected 14 points in 16 games this season, and will have a chance at continued production playing with guys like Rick Nash and Jeff Carter. However, given the tragic state of the horribly struggling Columbus Blue Jackets, who knows what might come of their fantasy worthy threats?
Milan Hejduk: While his play might have dipped of late, Hejduk might be your best bet if a guy like Vinny Prospal is no longer available. Unlike Prospal, Hejduk’s power play production has been stellar this season, recording seven of his 12 total points on the power play. What also makes Hejduk an intriguing choice is his trade probability. If Colorado slips out of playoff contention, Hejduk could easily be shipped to a contender and finally get his chance at another Stanley Cup trophy. I’d imagine he’d be pretty lethal on some of the league’s top power play units, but we’ll see how this situation unfolds.
Luke Adam: This young center has been a highly touted prospect in recent years, and looks to finally be coming into his own. Playing on a terrific line with stud scorer Thomas Vanek, and trusty line-mate Jason Pominville, this Buffalo Sabres trio has produced thus far this season, and Adam looks to be in it for the long hall. While recording only two points on the power play thus far is less than impressive, if you are looking for some young firepower to add to your team, Adam might be the best choice. I expect the kid to continue to produce for the remainder of the season.
Kris Versteeg: Eligible at both wings, Versteeg’s offensive production has been stellar this season. Playing as the best player on the Florida Panthers, Versteeg has racked up 17 points, eight coming on the power play, and has added 16 hits to his repertoire. In 16 games played, 16 hits is a decent bonus (if your league includes hits as a category), especially for a player that has been much renowned for his offensive capabilities. Either way, Versteeg has been one of the NHL’s most surprising and best early-season performers, one who is definitely looking at a career year statistically if the pace continues.
The Bruisers- if hits/penalty minutes/blocks are categories in your league, pickup these bruisers and enjoy the grit they bring!
Chris Neil: Before recently going down with an injury, one that we don’t know the true severity of (could be out a few days, could be weeks), right winger Neil had been one of my top fantasy performers this season. Was it because of his modest seven points scored in 16 games, which certainly isn’t too bad for the prototypical “goon”? Nope, it was because of Neil’s ability to consistently put up terrific numbers of hits and penalty minutes. Before the injury, Neil had recorded 51 hits in 16 games, to go along with the 52 penalty minutes, as well, highly valuable statistics in a league that includes them as scoring categories. My motto has always been the same, “if you cant beat em with scoring, beat em with hits, blocks, and penalty minutes.” There is no problem winning in hockey the ugly way, whether it be real life, or fantasy.
So whom did I pick up to replace the nastiness Neil brought to my fantasy squad? The answer: Matt Martin of the New York Islanders.
Matt Martin: This left winger brings a lot of Neil in himself, albeit he’s recorded five less points, but he does have 13 more hits, 64 total, which is a tremendous number on the season. Martin’s penalty minutes aren’t as high as we would like though, having spent only 33 minutes in the box thus far, but that’s something that could change quickly with a major penalty, or two, maybe a few more fights; something we know Martin wont shy away from. Martin is a solid fill-in for Neil, who hopefully comes back sooner than later as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Martin Hanzal: If you are looking for a great package of hits, blocks, and scoring as well, Martin Hanzal of the Phoenix Coyotes is a dynamite choice. Hanzal has recorded 37 hits on the season, 13 blocks, and has 11 points in 13 games. While I am almost positive Hanzal will not produce like a point-per-game player, his overall package can help your fantasy team in a variety of ways, with the chance of a career year offensively to go along with his physical play. Hanzal has a big body, and if he’s finally figured out how to use it on both sides of the ice, he could be a pretty lethal threat for a Phoenix team whose once again playing great hockey.
My next “Fantasy Quick Hits” will turn to defensemen/goalies, and the best waiver wire/free agency pickups at the time.