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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
Derick Brassard
Rangers' Brassard Scores Again
Derick Brassard, C, NYR
5/6/2015
News: Derick Brassard notched his fifth goal of the postseason Wednesday in a Game 4 loss to the Capitals.
Analysis: Derick Brassard is the only Ranger that is scoring, so even though he has five goals, the Rangers are on the verge of elimination. He also only has one assist, but then again he has 10 penalty minutes, so he's not just a one category contributor.

Andre Burakovsky
Capitals' Burakovsky Lights The Lamp Twice
Andre Burakovsky, LW, WAS
5/6/2015
News: Andre Burakovsky had both goals for the Capitals in their Game 4 win over the Rangers on Wednesday.
Analysis: These are Andre Burakovsky's first two goals of the playoffs, and he only has three points in nine games. He's only 20, and only has 53 regular season games to his name, so he is more a name for the future than the present.

Braden Holtby
Capitals' Holtby Stops 28 In Win
Braden Holtby, G, WAS
5/6/2015
News: Braden Holtby made 28 saves on 29 shots, and stopped a penalty shot, in a Game 4 win over the Rangers on Wednesday.
Analysis: Braden Holtby has been the difference for this Capitals team in comparison to teams from prior seasons. He's been outstanding this postseason, and now Washington is one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. If they win it all, Holtby could be in line for a Conn Smythe.

Henrik Lundqvist
Rangers' Lundqvist Lets In Two In loss
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
5/6/2015
News: Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves on 30 shots in a Game 4 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday.
Analysis: Henrik Lundqvist has been his usual self this postseason. His GAA and save percentage are both third in this postseason. However, his team isn't scoring, and so now they are on the verge of elimination. King Henrik may need to stand alone to save them.

Steven Stamkos
Lightning's Stamkos Nets Assist
Steven Stamkos, C, TB
5/6/2015
News: Steven Stamkos had an assist and two penalty minutes against the Canadiens in a Game 3 win Wednesday.
Analysis: Steven Stamkos struggled against the Red Wings, but he has four points against Montreal, and the Lightning are all but guaranteed to move on. If Stamkos has found his footing, he should have at least one more series in which to contribute.

Carey Price
Canadiens' Price Stops 17 In Loss
Carey Price, G, MON
5/6/2015
News: Carey Price stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced Wednesday in a Game 3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Analysis: The Lightning managed a goal with one second left on the clock, and that gave Carey Price and the Habs their third loss in as many games. Price has not been the problem, he has a .920 save percentage, but the Canadiens are all but guaranteed to be eliminated in this round. Price will have to settle for a Vezina and maybe a Hart.

Tyler Johnson
Bolts' Johnson Nets Winner
Tyler Johnson, C, TB
5/6/2015
News: Tyler Johnson scored the game-winning goal Wednesday with 1.1 seconds remaining to lift the Lightning to a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens. Tampa now has a 3-0 series lead.
Analysis: It was his eighth goal of the postseason and 11th point in 10 games. And those eight markers lead all skaters in the NHL playoffs. MVP (so far)? Yup.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop: 30 Saves In Game 3 Win
Ben Bishop, G, TB
5/6/2015
News: Ben Bishop made 30 saves in Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Canadiens.
Analysis: It might have been his best game of the postseason. The Habs maintained consistent pressure throughout the game, but Big Ben kept them at bay. It was his fifth consecutive win, a span where he has allowed just six goals.

John Persson
Isles' Persson Signs To Play In Sweden
John Persson, LW, NYI
5/6/2015
News: John Persson has signed a two-year deal to play in Sweden, according to Newsday's Arthur Staple.
Analysis: Person did play 10 games with the Islanders but has mainly been an organizational depth player and will not be missed.

Cedric Paquette
Lightning's Pacquette (Undisclosed) Not Warming Up
Cedric Paquette, C, TB
5/6/2015
News: Pacquette (undisclosed) is not on the ice for pre-game warmups and is unlikely to play Wednesday in Game 3 against Montreal, Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press reports.
Analysis: Pacquette was listed as a game-time decision as of Wednesday morning, but as warm-ups have commenced, it doesn't look like he'll be available for Game 3. Whyno reports that Jonathan Drouin could be active if Pacquette is scratched.

 
 
 
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