The Goods on Fantasy Hockey
by Ian Gooding on 01/26/13 at 11:56 PM ET
As the short season shapes up, many players who were not on the fantasy radar will now become prominent must-owns. Perhaps some of these young players who are off to strong starts will be droppable in a few weeks, but they could also be valuable contributors to your league championship. Interestingly enough, two of the six players listed are from Switzerland, a hockey nation on the rise.
Cory Conacher, C/LW, TB
Every year a candidate for the Calder Trophy appears out of nowhere. One such player is Conacher, an undrafted, undersized (5’8”) forward who has racked up 7 points (2g-5a) and a +4 in just four games this season. Conacher has benefitted from time on a potent Bolts’ power play as well as regular second-line duty alongside Vincent Lecavalier. Don’t expect him to sustain his current four-game point streak, since he will hit the rookie wall at some point. But he is the kind of player that you could literally catch “lightning in a bottle” with.
Raphael Diaz, D, MON
The P.K. Subban war of attrition appears to be going nowhere fast, and Diaz is taking full advantage of the opportunity. The Swiss d-man has racked up five helpers – three on the man advantage – in three games this season. It is worth mentioning here that Andrei Markov is also off to a strong start (3 goals), so Diaz could be the odd man out if/when Subban returns. I believe that Subban will eventually find his way back to Montreal, but Diaz’s recent production was enough for me to add him in one league where I am thin on defense.
Nazem Kadri, C, TOR
Kadri’s recent play (5 points in 5 games) has made him virtually untouchable as a possible piece in a proposed Roberto Luongo trade. Kadri seems to fit the definition of post-hype sleeper – a player who was thought to be no longer considered a blue-chip prospect. The Leafs are currently thin at the center position, having recently demoted Tim Connolly and trading Matthew Lombardi. The point-per-game production probably won’t continue, but Kadri has at least proven that he is finally in the show to stay.
Zack Kassian, RW, VAN
The Zack Attack, the Kassassin, whatever you want to call him (I like the Kassassinator)… the big Canucks’ forward is currently on a three-game goal streak replacing Alex Burrows alongside the Sedin twins. If the Canucks weren’t missing Ryan Kesler and David Booth currently, Kassian would probably be languishing on the fourth line, given that his AHL play during the lockout was rather inconsistent. If Kassian can continue to drive to the net and play his physical style, he will be a must-own in fantasy leagues for his goals and penalty minutes.
Matt Niskanen, D, PIT
Thought to be a throw-in in the James Neal/Alex Goligoski trade, Niskanen is making a name of his own this season. Playing alongside offensive machine Kris Letang will help, as Niskanen is off to a strong start with three points in four games. Niskanen has never exceeded 35 points over his career, so don’t expect more than third or fourth d-man production this season. But the season is short, so you have to do what works.
Damien Brunner, C/RW, DET
Just about anyone who plays alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg is worth an add in fantasy leagues. Also consider that no one will end up on the line if they don’t possess the talent, and the Wings have been finding talented players from somewhere for the past 20 years. You’ve probably seen this sick shootout goal already, but I’ll let you look at it one more time. Oh yeah, the Swiss forward has two goals in four games this season.
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About The Goods on Fantasy Hockey
My name is Ian Gooding, and this is The Goods on Fantasy Hockey. Given my ability to understand numbers, write sentences, and follow hockey, it’s not a surprise to those who know me that I became a fantasy hockey writer. I started writing about fantasy hockey in 2006 for fantasyhockey.com and became the site’s content editor in 2007. Looking to expand my audience, I joined Kukla’s Korner in the summer of 2011 to create the site’s first fantasy hockey blog.
A few times each week, I’ll provide an article called “Pick Six” where I will write about six players that should either be in your fantasy team’s starting lineup or bench for the upcoming game. As well, I’ll provide the fantasy takes on important hockey developments. You can also email me your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter.