Fantasy Hockey Bargains

The launch of a new hockey season also means the launch of a new fantasy hockey season. For those who like something a little more interactive than hockey pools, Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey is a popular and ever-growing option.

While most teams have already made tweaks, some will still be looking for a little help on the waiver wire or from the free agent pool – so today, we look at some of the best players still available for nothing in 50% or more of Yahoo! Leagues.

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First Team

Pos. Player Owned
LW Tomas Fleischmann 18%
C, LW Andy McDonald 50%
RW Ales Hemsky 41%
D Brian Campbell 49%
D Marek Zidlicky 34%
G Michal Neuvirth 42%
G Mike Smith 46%

There’s a surprising amount of talent still available in half or more of Yahoo! Leagues. Tomas Fleischmann finished the year on a near point-per-game run with Colorado, and he’s picking up heavy ice-time in Florida – and has two points in two games to show for it so far. Andy McDonald generally gets dismissed as a 50-point player, but his true talent level is much higher – in two of the last three seasons he’s flirted with the point-per-game mark. Finally, Ales Hemsky’s under the radar this year, probably thanks to two consecutive season with major chunks of time lost, but he’s also a near point-per-game player. The issue with all three is injuries, but in a system where players can be dropped or added as the year goes along that shouldn’t be a major concern.

On defense, Brian Campbell is playing massive minutes for the Panthers – in their first game, he eclipsed the 30:00 mark. Sure, he’s overpaid, but he’ll play a lot and largely in key situations. Marek Zidlicky’s plus/minus is something of a concern, but he’s been a reliable offensive option since prior to the lockout and will be relied on more than ever with Minnesota’s lack of high-end defenders; it is unconscionable that he’s owned in just one of three leagues.

In net, Michal Neuvirth is an intriguing option – Tomas Vokoun has never really been a heavy load goaltender, so even if he remains in the backup role Neuvirth will get minutes, but the possibility exists that he could steal the starting job from Vokoun outright. Mike Smith, meanwhile, is the starter in Phoenix and after allowing six goals in his first game played much better in his second outing. Dave Tippett’s defensive system should keep the goals against down even if the Coyotes struggle this season.

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Second Team

Pos. Player Owned
LW Ray Whitney 19%
C Marcus Johansson 6%
RW Daniel Alfredsson 35%
D Marc-Andre Bergeron 12%
D Marc-Andre Gragnani 4%
G Tuukka Rask 48%
G Devan Dubnyk 40%

Thirty-nine year old Ray Whitney may seem like an odd name to include on this list, but with Phoenix thinner than ever up front he will keep getting a lot of ice-time – he’s hovering around the 20:00 mark through two games and would have had 60 points if he’d been healthy all of last season. Daniel Alfredsson is another aging star, and while his plus/minus won’t be great this season it’s worth remembering that prior to 2010-11 he’d been a 70-point player or better for nine straight years. Marcus Johansson is something else entirely, a real gamble; the 21-year old spent much of the preseason centering Alex Ovechkin, but was a healthy scratch for Washington’s first game. In their second outing, however, he recorded two points and was a force. Johansson had six points in nine playoff games last year and could shock with his offensive output this season.

A pair of Marc-Andre’s fill the blue line slots. Marc-Andre Bergeron has been a consistent performer on the power play and looks to be getting regular time with Tampa Bay. Gragnani is also getting regular power play minutes – he leads the Sabres’ blue line in that category – and was a point-per-game player in the NHL playoffs last season, as well as in the AHL during the regular season. He’s highly capable and worth consideration for teams that need a defenseman.

In net, Tuukka Rask’s situation is similar to Neuvirth’s – he’s a highly competent backup playing behind a traditionally low-games played starter on a good team. Devan Dubnyk is more of a risk, but also represents a potentially better return – he’s playing for an awful team, but has a better than 50/50 shot at being the starter and has the potential to put up acceptable numbers on a team in need of a goalie.

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  • Does this mean you’ll be running a fantasy series throughout the season JW? I’d love that. Only good place I know for this kind of information is puck daddy and even then sometimes the fantasy stuff isn’t that great.

    From the players you listed there are a lot of older players with some potential. Currently I’m looking for some still available players who will put up a few points and sog but mostly that will rack me up some hits and PIMs as this is where my team looks like its lacking the most. Any tips on these types of players?

  • Douche Nietzsche

    I just entered my first fantasy hockey league this year and off to a so-so start (10th out of 19 and only have 3 goals scored with my players) But what I really dont understand with using these online leagues and stuff is the % owned? What does that percentage mean? I have Kuelemin and he is a 94.6 owned with a -2.4% right now? Could someone help out a rookie and let me know what that means.

  • @ JorgeR:

    Yeah, I’ll probably be doing semi-regular Fantasy Hockey posts – depends on the level of interest.

    As for your question, I’ve found that the %-owned stat is less reliable in leagues that include PIM and hits as categories – Steve Ott, for instance, is owned in 24% of leagues but is probably owned in yours. If not, he’s a good bet for 30+ points, 150 PIM, and a bunch of hits.

    Ryan Malone (13% ownership) is a guy I’d be even more comfortable with, and Scottie Upshall (4% ownership) might be worth a flyer as well.

    Personally, if I can’t find a guy with at least respectable scoring totals in a league with PIM and hitting, I like to hand over one or two slots to a defenseman with typically decent plus/minus totals and hit/PIM numbers. Stephane Robidas (15% ownership) is a great candidate for hits + offense – he’s a 30-point defender who had over 200 hits last season and gets power play time.

  • Love Monkey

    Thanks for this JW. I’m a long-time fantasy football guy and just getting into fantasy hockey so this is helpful once in a while as I try to get a hold on the value of players.