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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
Patrik Berglund
Blues' Berglund Scores In Loss
Patrik Berglund, C, STL
12/22/2014
News: Patrik Berglund scored his fourth goal of the year Saturday in a loss San Jose. He was plus-1 with two shots and two hits on the night.
Analysis: Patrik Berglund's offensive output has been disappointing this year with just 11 points in 32 games, although he has never been a big scorer. Regardless trade rumours surround the veteran Swede and how he responds could provide a boost to his owners.

Steve Ott
Blues' Ott Nets First Of Season
Steve Ott, C, STL
12/22/2014
News: Steve Ott scored his first goal of the season Saturday in a loss to San Jose on his only shot of the game. He added seven hits in 13:46 of ice time in the game.
Analysis: Steve Ott is a veteran role player and penalty killer at this stage in his career, so offensive contributions aren't what the Blues are expecting from him. Fantasy owners should look at him the same way.

Keith Yandle
Coyotes' Yandle Picks Up Helper In Loss
Keith Yandle, D, ARI
12/22/2014
News: Keith Yandle picked up an assist Saturday in a loss to the Kings. He took one shot, registered two PIM, and blocked two shots on the night.
Analysis: Keith Yandle's 21 points rank him 11th among defensemen as he once again shows he is among the top offensive defensemen in the NHL. He has picked up five points in his last eight games.

Jannik Hansen
Hansen (Undisclosed) Expected To Play Monday
Jannik Hansen, RW, VAN
12/22/2014
News: Coach Willie Desjardins indicated Jannik Hansen (undisclosed) should be able to play Monday against the Coyotes.
Analysis: Jannik Hansen collapsed on the bench in the second period of Sunday's game. He and spent the night in the hospital and didn't skate Sunday morning, both for precautionary reasons. However, it appears as though the reasoning behind the collapse was minor, and he should be fine moving forward.

Mike Brown
Sharks' Brown Out 6-8 Weeks With Broken Fibula
Mike Brown, RW, SJ
12/22/2014
News: Mike Brown has a broken right fibula and will miss six-to-eight weeks from the time of the fracture on Dec. 9, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports.
Analysis: Mike Brown was placed on injured reserve the day after the injury, indicating it was severe. Now that the injury has been revealed as a broken fibula, the timetable has been set at six-to-eight weeks, scheduling his return for late January or early February

Cam Talbot
Rangers' Talbot To Start Sunday
Cam Talbot, G, NYR
1:40 PM
News: Cam Talbot will start between the pipes against the Hurricanes on Sunday, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: Fresh off his one-year contract extension Friday, Cam Talbot will receive the chance to prove his worth Sunday against the Hurricanes. He carries a 2.34 GAA and .921 save percentage into the matchup.

Henrik Lundqvist
Rangers' Lundqvist Claims Fifth Straight Win
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
1:21 PM
News: Henrik Lundqvist limited the Hurricanes to two goals on 20 shot attempts in Saturday's victory.
Analysis: The Rangers needed a late goal by Kevin Klein to extend the game to overtime, but Henrik Lundqvist ultimately came through in the shootout to earn his fifth consecutive victory. The two teams will meet again Sunday in New York, but it's not yet known if coach Alain Vigneault will stick with Lundqvist or go with backup Cam Talbot for the start.

Jay Beagle
Beagle Collects Two Assists For Caps
Jay Beagle, C, WAS
1:17 PM
News: Jay Beagle assisted on two goals in Saturday's win over the Devils.
Analysis: Both of Jay Beagle's tallies came on scores by Nicklas Backstrom. The 29-year-old typically doesn't see much ice time with the likes of Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, but Saturday's strong showing might prompt coach Barry Trotz to reconsider his line arrangements.

Francois Beauchemin
Ducks' Beauchemin (Finger) Out Monday
Francois Beauchemin, D, ANA
1:09 PM
News: Francois Beauchemin (finger) will not rejoin the lineup Monday against the Coytoes, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Francois Beauchemin's initial outlook favored him returning over the weekend, but it appears the Ducks are content giving him Monday and the holiday break off before returning. The team's next game after Monday is Saturday, giving him plenty of extra time to rest up.

Corey Perry
Ducks' Perry (Knee) Won't Play Monday
Corey Perry, RW, ANA
10:58 AM
News: Corey Perry (knee) was not part of the line rushes in practice Sunday, and won't play Monday against the Sharks, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Corey Perry will have to be activated from injured reserve before returning and now it appears Monday is no longer an option. He was on the ice for practice Sunday, but was wearing a red no-contact jersey. His next chance to return will come after the Christmas break.

 
 
 
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