The focus of today’s weekly fantasy hockey column is going to be on players who I feel are under-owned based on their production value, minutes played and linemates. I won’t be going as far off the board as last week, but the following players are definitely worth a gander in medium or deeper leagues.
1. Derek Stepan – C – New York Rangers – 32% Owned
11 G, 26 A, +22 in 53 GP
Photo courtesy of Resolute via Creative Commons 3.0
The dreaded sophomore slump doesn’t appear to be affecting Derek Stepan, who is projected to reach 57 points by season’s end, 12 more than he notched in his rookie campaign. I’d like to wager that he finishes with even more points than that. He centers New York’s top line in between Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik, one of the hottest players in the NHL. Stepan appears that he could get close to being a point-per-game player for the rest of the season.
Despite being held off the score sheet Sunday against Washington he has 6 points (1G, 5A) and is +2 in his last four contests. He’s logging just under 19 minutes per game and will be available in most fantasy leagues, since he is only owned in a third of them. If hits are a fantasy category in your league, Stepan averages almost two per game, which further increases his value.
He’s the 64th-ranked forward according to Yahoo sports, ahead of perennial stars like Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis. That makes him a viable option in just about all fantasy leagues and that ranking is likely to increase if the Rangers are able to continue rolling.
2. Martin Erat – RW – Nashville Predators – 34% Owned
13 G, 29 A, +8 in 48 GP
The Predators have been one of the lower scoring teams during the past few years, relying more on a defensive-minded approach. Things have changed lately as they currently sit 12th in the NHL in scoring, which has a lot has to do with the recent play of Martin Erat. In 18 games since the new year he has 19 points (5G, 13A), and he has notched two goals and added four assists in his last four.
Erat is also a staple of the Preds power play, which ranks second in the NHL (21.8%) and trails only the Vancouver Canucks. While Erat has had injury woes in the past, as well as this season where he missed eight games, he appears to be healthy and should continue to be productive for the remainder of the season as long as he’s in the line-up.
Aside from goals, assists and a decent plus/minus, he doesn’t offer too much value in other categories such as: shots, PIMs, hits, and blocked shots. Based on his production alone, he’s under-rated and under-owned.
3. David Perron – LW – St. Louis Blues – 17% owned
9 G, 14 A, +10 in 29 GP
David Perron has turned it on since returning from injury in the beginning of December. He played only 10 games last year after being sidelined with a major concussion and missed the first few months of the current season. The Blues are happy to have him back, and he’s been one of the more productive players for their squad, averaging just under a point per game.
He has seven points (6G, 1A) in his last four games and has been getting ample minutes playing on the first line and power-play unit with TJ Oshie and David Backes. Perron is not on the radar for most fantasy owners, since he barely played last year and the Blues aren’t exactly the most potent team offensively.
With 28 games remaining on the schedule he’s projected to near his career high in points (50) despite missing the first 25 games of the season. St. Louis has a packed week facing off against the Jackets, Isles, Wild, and Blackhawks. Aside from Minnesota those teams all rank in the bottom third in the league in goals allowed per game. Columbus and Chicago rank 28th and 30th in penalty killing respectively, further increasing Perron’s value for the upcoming week.
4. Alex Goligoski – D – Dallas Stars – 70% owned
7 G, 15 A, -4 in 43 GP
Alex Goligoski was one of the higher-rated defenceman heading into this hockey fantasy season after finishing last year with 14 goals and 22 assists, splitting time between Pittsburgh and Dallas. That ranked him T-6th and 14th respectively amongst defencemen. This season he spent about a month on the IR with a broken thumb, which might have sent him to the waiver wire in some fantasy leagues.
He initially struggled after his return, going pointless in his first five games and scoring only two points in his first 10. Goligoski has turned the page and looks like that top-2 defenceman the Stars traded for. He has 6 points (1G, 5A) in his last five games and anchors the Stars’ PP unit. If Goligoski’s injury landed him on the waiver wire in your league, scoop him up immediately because he won’t be there for too much longer.
5. Evgeni Nabokov – G – New York Islanders – 47% owned
13-13-0, 2.19 GAA, 0.922 SV%, 2 Shutouts
With those numbers above its mind-boggling how Evgeni Nabokov is so sparsely owned in fantasy leagues. I guess nobody has faith in the historically poor Islanders squad. Granted they were rolling three goalies at one point this season when Rick Dipietro was healthy, but the Russian netminder has emerged as the first option on Long Island.
After a rough outing against the Panthers on Sunday he was pulled after the second period having allowed four goals on 15 shots. However, Nabokov has been playing very well lately and should get some consideration across most formats considering how shallow goalie waiver wires can be. In his last four games before the debacle against the Panthers, he stopped 130 of 135 shots, helping the Isles take three wins during that stretch.
It’s likely Nabokov will garner trade value as the deadline approaches, so his role on another team and long-term value are unclear, but in the next two weeks leading up to the Feb. 27 deadline, roll with Nabokov night in, night out.
Evaluating Last Week’s Fantasy Hockey Picks
Looking back on last week’s fantasy hockey picks there were some hits and a couple misses as well. Some of the players who I was on the fence about (Teddy Purcell) killed it, while others (James Reimer) did not. Can’t win ’em all I guess. Here’s a recap of the stat lines of last week’s picks:
- Todd Bertuzzi (DET): 4 GP, 0 G, 1 A, minus-2, 4 PIMs, 4 Hits, 9 SOGs
- Teddy Purcell (TB): 4 GP, 0 G, 5A, plus-3, 1 Hit, 6 SOGs
- Derick Brassard (CLB): 4GP, 0 G, 3A, minus-1, 5 PIMS, 10 Hits, 2 SOGs
- Jay Bouwmeester (CGY): 4GP, 0 G, 0A, Even, 2 PIMs, 4 Hits, 7 Blocked Shots
- Jame Reimer (TOR): 3 GP, 1 Win 2 Losses, GAA 4.37, SV% .869