Posted - 02/25/2009 : 16:26:13
With time winding down on the fantasy hockey season, there are many fantasy owners looking for any way possible to make that last push up the standings. While trading is certainly one way to do it, there are still bargains to be found on the waiver wire.
Ray Irwin lists five players that should be considered and are likely available on your league’s waiver wire:
Ville Leino LW, DET
Leino is on our Top 60 Prospects list and for good reason. The undrafted Finn is just another player in a long line of players found by Detroit’s top-shelf scouting department. He was signed him as a free agent last May after a stellar season with Jokerit Helsinki. He’s currently only owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues, so that means 97% of you can have him for free.
Professor’s Notes: Leino has five points in eight games since his call-up from Grand Rapids of the AHL where he proved capable of playing the North American game (37 points on 44 games). His ice time in Detroit is averaging 13:45 per game, but he is also seeing plenty of PP time and has been skating on a scoring line with Valtteri Filppula and Marian Hossa. In Tomas Holmstrom’s absence (groin, 3-5 weeks), expect this role to continue. If you need a boost offensively, it is rarely a poor gamble to bet on a top-6 forward from the Red Wings.
Matt Niskanen D, DAL
Heading into the 2008-09 NHL season many believed that Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen was poised for a big year. He has all the tools to be the heir apparent to All-Star, yet aging Sergei Zubov, but like his team Niskanen struggled mightily to put up points at the start of the year (two points in his first 20 games). Since then, Niskanen has quietly emerged as a viable fantasy defender. He has amassed 23 points over the past 33 games.
Professor’s Notes: Niskanen has been on fire of late and his PP time has been gradually increasing as the season grows longer. With Philippe Boucher traded to Pittsburgh and Zubov out for the season, expect the Stars to lean heavily on the young blueliner. If you are in a keeper league or a deep single-year league (or if you are a Lubomir Visnovsky owner), I suggest that you look Niskanen’s way as there is a good possibility that he is available on your league’s waiver wire.
Claude Giroux RW, PHI
Giroux is a highly regarded prospect who is earning his keep in a top-6 role in Philly. He has been moved around between the first two lines and should stick there when Daniel Briere returns from injury in the next week or so. Surprisingly, Giroux is owned in only 2% of Yahoo leagues.
Professor’s Notes: His ice time and PP time is gradually increasing, which should not be a surprise. Giroux is one of the most offensively gifted young forwards to come into the NHL this year and will certainly be an NHL star one day. If you need some help offensively, pick him up and reap the rewards.
Alex Burrows LW, VAN
After spending the past two seasons on a shutdown line with Ryan Kesler, Burrows has found himself skating on the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. He has shown a penchant for scoring big goals and comes to the rink to play every night. The Canucks have had a terrible time finding a winger that can mesh with the twins, the last successful one being Anson Carter in 2005-06. Burrows provides solid PIM numbers and adding some offense surely makes him a player to keep on your radar.
Professor’s Notes: Surprisingly, this experiment may stick, which is why Burrows should be considered in the deepest of fantasy leagues. Burrows finds himself on pace for 20 goals, 40 points this season, and already has agitated his way to 82 PIMs. If you are looking for a LW who can help top up all fantasy categories (including shorthanded points), give him a look.
Ryan Kesler C, VAN
It would have been difficult to imagine two Canucks players on this list a week or so ago, but the club has turned things around and Ryan Kesler has played a big role in that. Like Burrows, Kesler has seen a promotion to a scoring line and he is now skating with Mats Sundin and Pavol Demitra, dubbed by coach Alain Vigneault the “RPM line”.
Professor’s Notes: Since the promotion seven games ago, Kesler has scored 11 points (7G-4A) and is playing the best hockey of his career. Demitra gave his endorsement through the media to keep the line together and as long as things keep clicking there is little reason for Vigneault to make a change.
Ray Irwin writes for www.SchoolYourPool.com, the most complete fantasy hockey advice website on the internet. Featuring player and prospect rankings and interviews, daily starting goalies, buy low/sell high, injury reports, goalie carousel, and lots more...come on over to www.schoolyourpool.com and Get Educated!
**Mark this date: On March 4th, School Your Pool will be hosting a live chat with ‘The Professor’ at 12PM EST / 9AM PST to answer your questions about the fantasy implications of NHL Trade Deadline deals. See you there!
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