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Fantasy Phase 2: Snagging the Up & Comers

This is my favorite time of the fantasy season, when we get to eagerly watch the wire and see who boils up to the top, itching to snatch up that next great unheralded player before the next guy does.  How soon you pull the trigger can make a big difference in how effective your strategy is; it’s important to wait a few games on a guy you might suspect is a good value to see if it isn’t just a fluke.  Also, it’s critical to make sure you don’t drop someone off your roster to make room that even though may be starting slow will ultimately outperform whoever you replace them with.

Juggle the stats, see who’s on the powerplay that wasn’t before, take a look at the line combinations (Yahoo’s team review articles are great for this) and see who’s on the top lines, and watch a game or two of a player you’re interested before you grab them.  Below are a few guys who didn’t get drafted in my league that are getting picked off the wire as we speak.

Guys who are probably snatched up, but still worth mentioning:

Ales Kotalik (RW) - He’s already got 4 goals and 3 assists playing on the first powerplay unit for the Rangers.  RW is pretty shallow this year so he’s a steal if he’s still on the wire.

Brandon Dubinsky (C) - Dubinsky underperformed last year after a hot start, so buyer beware.  However he’s centering Gaborik which is all I need to hear.  Beware though, he isn’t on the first powerplay unit.  His faceoff ability adds greatly to his value.

Wojtek Wolski (C) - Wolski didn’t quite live up to expectations in his first three years, but this is his breakout year.  Playing on the first line with Paul Stastny has been good for him, with 7 points in 7 games, 3 on the power play.

Michael Del Zotto (D) - Who IS this kid?  He comes out of nowhere and suddenly scores 2 goals and 5 assists, 5 PPP in 7 games.  I’m tempted to trade a heavy hitter for this guy if this is how his rookie year is going to go.

Andrew Brunette (LW) - Andrew Brunette did have an 83 point season once.  Following reconstructive knee surgery, Brunette has shot out of the gate with 5 goals and 2 assists.  Despite his -6 rating he’s got 5 on the powerplay, playing on the first unit with Koivu and Havlat.

Guys who might still be out there and are worth picking up now:

James Neal (LW) - Dallas is just pulling out young talent left and right.  Playing on the first line for Dallas, Neal has 3 goals, 4 assists, 2 on the power play with a +5 in just 6 games.  If he’s still on your wire, he shouldn’t be.

Jamie Benn (LW) - Another rookie who’s blasting out of the gate on a successful 2nd Dallas Stars line alongside Brendan Morrow, he’s got 5 points in 6 games.  Keep an eye on this one.

Matt Moulson (LW) - This guy came in wayyyy under the radar.  Looking to prove something after going underappreciated by Los Angeles, the Islanders have put him on the first line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, and it’s paying big dividents.  3 goals, 3 assists and 3 PPP in 5 games.

Dustin Penner (LW) - Based on his numbers so far this year you’d think this guy was a star already.  After a 37 point showing last year, suddenly he’s got 5 goals, 4 assists in just 7 games.  Is he worth the pick up or is this just a hot streak?  He’s on the 2nd line and doing allright so far, so I’d say grab him.

Ryan Malone (LW) - Those 6 goals include a hat trick, but he’s really clicking on Tampa Bay’s second line alongside Stamkos and St. Louis.  Pittsburgh was pretty dumb to let this kid go.

Guys to pick up when you’re drunk (no, not in that way):

Matt Duchene sure looks fast out there.  He scored a goal against the Wings tonight.  And he’s Don Cherry’s best friend.  After all, Don saved his Grampa’s life.

Matt Carkner (D,RW) - Carkner’s a truculent big boy at 6’4” 231, and already has 19 PIMs in 6 games to match his goal and assist.  If you’re looking for PIMs on D with a point or two, this might be your guy.

Speaking of Matts….  Matt Stajan has 3 goals (all on the powerplay) and 41 faceoffs.  Not bad for 5 games.

Darcy Tucker (RW) 3G, 2A. 4 of those on the power play.  Bruiser.  Used to be one of the PIM monsters in the league.  Maybe he’s got something to prove in Colorado?

Maxim Afinogenov is great!  He’ll rock!  Woo!!!  My apologies if you actually drafted this guy….  What a disappointment.

Daymond Langkow really does have a lot of faceoffs, and seems to be scoring.  Was that a powerplay point I saw?  Dude, he played around 20 minutes the last game or two, and he’s wearing the A.  Those 20 minutes have him at -8.  Good luck with that.

And holy cow, Hedman’s got four assists.  Screw those last four guys: his favorite player is Nik Lidstrom.

Ok that last batch was a bunch of terrible recommendations.  But the first two were good.  Go out and get ‘em boys.


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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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