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Neutral Zone Wrap: Worth another look?

by | Rotowire.com
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Following up on last week's underappreciated player review, we now turn to those overlooked on the waiver wire. Alas, there will be no list. But hopefully, you will still learn something. (There will be a quiz after, so pay attention).

As your league's trade deadline has either passed or is reaching its conclusion, you need other sources to fill your roster requirements. And since you can't forcibly steal property from any of the other owners (as detailed in Section 1.2.92 of the Geneva Convention), then what better way to replace/upgrade than wading in the free agent pool. This idea may elicit chills, but you will warm up to it…when you realize you have no other choice.

If you currently stand as a contender (and why wouldn't you be?), then here are a couple waiver tips to provide that extra boost:

• Grab the best player available. This may sound obvious, but many are easily attracted to recent performance. While a hot streak may signal an ice-time increase or an advanced line situation, it sometimes hides the fact others exist that carry better pedigrees but may have either returned from injury or were just dropped due to unknown circumstances.

• In a year-long rotisserie-style league using position maximums, it may become necessary to mix and match your pickups. Projected to be low on LW but high on C? Then find a winger and dump the center (more of the latter will be available). But don't always follow these trends, especially when it comes to goaltending. Even if their appearances are approaching the upper threshold, it's often better to retain as many ‘tenders as possible – unless you really need to substitute in another area. Remember goalies generally comprise two-fifths of the standing categories, so maintaining the best nightly options in net may just be the solution to push you up the standings.

• If your league involves head-to-head, then take a look at upcoming weekly schedules. A skater who will see action four times in the next seven days is often preferred to one who will only go out twice (exceptions obviously apply). As well, it may pay off to scout your opponent and seek out available linemates to counteract. But at the same time, don't do so if it significantly worsens your overall production.

And now that you have absorbed this material, perhaps you can apply the knowledge to one of these NHL clubs:

After a brief lull, Nashville has turned into the latest league model (12-2 in 2012). He always gets lost in the shuffle, but Martin Erat (10 points in 11 games) continues to be reliable. Welcome back to prominence, Mike Fisher (14 in 11). Way to rebound, Sergei Kostitsyn (12 in 13, including seven goals). You're not bad either, Colin Wilson (five in seven). And don't tail off too drastically, Craig Smith (four-game point streak helps). Roman Josi has been entrusted with significant minutes in the last six weeks (12 of 16 at 20-plus) but hasn't exactly shone (only five assists during that stretch), while Ryan Ellis gets short-shifted (never seen anything above 19:25) but comes out more valuable (seven, including four on the power-play).

The Islanders have showed promise (back-to-back road victories versus Washington and Philly), but you won't see much of it outside their core group. Re-enter Kyle Okposo (14 in 15, plus-six) into the mix, but that's where the offense ends. Frans Nielsen (two in 10) can claim a spot on the Isles' top PP unit, but no would be able to tell. All Michael Grabner has done lately is score goals (four in 10), but the rest (no assists in 11) isn't even close to last year's pace. Beyond the great Mark Streit, the blueline is pretty bare. None of Andrew MacDonald (three in 14), Travis Hamonic (two in 12), or Milan Jurcina (pointless in 23 games!) has been able to make a sound. At least Evgeni Nabokov (recent owner of a four-game winning streak) is reclaiming his role as fantasy regular.

Something is still amiss in Washington, but the Capitals are slowly pulling the pieces together. There was no doubting Alexander Semin (13 in 15) and Marcus Johansson (nine in 13) would step out of their ruts. Troy Brouwer (six in nine, 27 hits, 11 PIM) maintains his underrated status. Anyone who saw Mathieu Perreault (seven in six, including a hat trick) jumping up to benefit, hey, good for you. Everyone who realized the reign of Jason Chimera (four in 17) wouldn't last, well, brave call there. Waiting for Mike Green to return (from his perma-groin strain) is like pulling teeth. But hoping John Carlson (two in 15, minus-12) can fill a significant portion is similar to doing that nail scratching thing on the blackboard.

Can Los Angeles continue to stay afloat (hanging on to a playoff berth in the West) even if they have trouble producing (last in the NHL at 2.11 goals/night)? Don't tell Justin Williams (he of the nine-match point run) about the offensive drought. Please keep Dustin Penner (four in nine) away from fluffy breakfast foods. You've got to give us more, Kyle Clifford (like something more than 15 minutes to go with four in nine plus 24 PIM), before we can pull the trigger. You still with us, Jarrett Stoll (three in 12, hasn't tasted a PPP since December)? Andrei Loktionov (four in 30) doesn't appear to be ready for the show. Slava Voynov displayed a bit of spark to start (few recall his three-point moment in October), but that's quickly burning out (one in eight).

And what can one really say about Carolina? They've been awful, but at least their prolonged slump is allowing their role players extra chances. This is your moment, Brandon Sutter (six in 12), so don't mess it up. The world has been handed to Jiri Tlusty (four in 12), as he now finds himself between Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner. Even a late-blooming journeyman like Tim Brent (five in eight) can earn a living. Cherish that 2009 playoff stardom, Chad LaRose, because your number is almost up. Without Joni Pitkanen (concussion/knee surgery) and Jaroslav Spacek (now back from facial injuries) manning the point, not-so-young Jay Harrison (eight in 13) and definitely fresh-faced Justin Faulk (dismiss the scoreless in six and focus on the six in eight immediately before) have reaped the rewards.

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Player News
Thomas Vanek
Wild's Vanek Tied To Gambling Investigation
Thomas Vanek, LW, MIN
7/21/2014
News: Thomas Vanek made an appearance at the courthouse in Rochester on Monday in connection to a gambling investigation, News 10 NBC in Rochester reports.
Analysis: It's currently unclear just how Thomas Vanek is involved with the investigation, but he showed up voluntarily at the courthouse and left after a two-hour visit. His agent, Steve Bartlett, released a statement Monday that said Vanek is "not the subject of any investigation or prosecution." Rochester where the Sabres' AHL affiliate is located; Vanek spent eight seasons in a Buffalo jersey.

Jeremy Welsh
Blues Sign Welsh To Two-Way Deal
Jeremy Welsh, C, VAN
7/21/2014
News: Jeremy Welsh signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blues on Monday.
Analysis: Jeremy Welsh logged 19 games for the Canucks last season, delivering a lone goal and six penalty minutes. The Blues have superior depth at forward compared to the Canucks, so it wouldn't be surprising if Welsh saw less action at the NHL level in 2014-15.

Nate Prosser
Blues Ink Prosser To Two-Way Deal
Nate Prosser, D, MIN
7/21/2014
News: Nate Prosser (finger) signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blues on Tuesday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: The Wild elected not to extend a qualifying offer to Nate Prosser this summer after he totaled a meager eight points, 22 hits and 83 blocks over 53 regular-season contests. He'll compete for a depth role with the Blues.

Vladimir Sobotka
Blues' Sobotka Awarded One-Year Deal By Blues
Vladimir Sobotka, C, STL
7/21/2014
News: Vladimir Sobotka was awarded a one-year deal with the Blues on Monday, which will take effect if he returns from the KHL, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: Vladimir Sobotka signed a three-year deal with the KHL's Avangard Omsk in early July, so this deal merely means that the Blues will retain his rights if and when he decides to return to the NHL. The team used club-elected arbitration to get the deal done, so Sobotka will be a Blue when he returns unless they trade his rights. According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he'll receive a $2.725 million salary in the season he makes his return. The 27-year-old center had nine goals and 24 helpers over 61 games with the Blues in 2013-14.

Cody Franson
Leafs Sign Franson To One-Year Deal
Cody Franson, D, TOR
7/21/2014
News: Cody Franson signed a one-year, $3.3 million deal with the Maple Leafs on Monday, Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen reports.
Analysis: Cody Franson's new deal allows him and the team to avoid arbitration. The 26-year-old defenseman had 33 points (five goals) last season with the Leafs, logging 30 penalty minutes along the way. He skated with the team's third defensive pairing in 2013-14, and can expect a similar role in the upcoming season.

Ryan Johansen
Jackets' Johansen Inching Closer To New Deal
Ryan Johansen, C, CLB
7/21/2014
News: Negotiations between Ryan Johansen and the Blue Jackets have started up again after Johansen's agent proposed a two-year deal to the club, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: This is a big step, as the length of a new contract was the biggest stumbling block between the two sides. The actual dollar amount will still be an issue, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Ryan Johansen back in a Jackets sweater by the end of the week.

Matt Hackett
Sabres' Hackett Sidelined Until Christmas
Matt Hackett, G, BUF
7/20/2014
News: Matt Hackett suffered a season-ending ACL in the second-last game of the regular season and will not be returning until Christmas, reports The Buffalo News.
Analysis: It's been less than two months since Matt Hackett's surgery to repair a torn ACL, so the Christmas return date is only a rough estimate for now. When Hackett is healthy enough to return, he will have to go undergo rehab before he can return to game action. With Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov already vying for the starting job, there's no hurry for Hackett to return, but if he can't play, he can't convince the Sabres to keep him around long-term. The Sabres qualified Hackett in June, which means the organization is willing to be patient and give him a fair shake. The 24-year-old has 162 AHL appearances under his belt but has managed only to appear in 21 NHL games.

David Clarkson
Leafs' Clarkson Looking Ahead To Better 2014-15
David Clarkson, RW, TOR
7/19/2014
News: David Clarkson is "looking forward to what's ahead" after a horrible start to his career as a Maple Leaf. "It's tough to go through that, when your first impression or start is that," he told Sportsnet. "But that's all behind me. Everything's behind me, and I'm looking forward to what's ahead."
Analysis: We should hope it's behind him. The dude had more fights (nine) than goals (five) and more games missed because of suspension (12) than points (11). Yes, it was that bad. His fantasy value is going to be tied to the potential for power-play time. And in Toronto, that's far from a guarantee. #badfit.

Teuvo Teravainen
Hawks Preach Patience On Teravainen
Teuvo Teravainen, LW, CHI
7/19/2014
News: Teuvo Teravainen has impressed at rookie camp, according to CSN Comcast Sportsnet, but the Blackhawks will be patient with his development. "It's going to take a number of years … He's only 19 years old," said General Manager Stan Bowman.
Analysis: His offensive skills were on full display during the camp and coach Joel Quenneville raved about him Friday. "I thought he had a special day," said Quenneville. "Over the course of the week, you can see his skills. When you put a puck and you're playing for real, you see his vision, anticipation and how he's creating with the puck. And his anticipation offensively is excellent." There is still a chance that Teuvo Teravainen starts the season in Rockford of the AHL, so don't overrate him in single-year leagues.

Michael Del Zotto
Free Agent Del Zotto Talking To Suitors
Michael Del Zotto, D, NSH
7/19/2014
News: Michael Del Zotto remains a free agent past the mid-point of July, but he's not disappointed. "It's motivating," said the defender this week at a charity golf tournament. "This summer is the hardest I've ever worked."
Analysis: He says he's been talking to "a bunch" of teams, but he wouldn't reveal how many or which ones. "I'm just waiting for the right opportunity to prove myself again," he said, "and prove everybody who's doubted me wrong." He'll need top-four minutes and a job on the power play to be fantasy relevant again. There just aren't a lot of those gigs out there.

 
 
 
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