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Blue Line Buzz: Upside of buying low

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

Buy Low (But Buyer Beware)

Endangered species sightings ...

Tyler Myers, Sabres: We may remember Myers as one of the most maddening players to own after his rookie season (Or maybe that's just me. Not bitter). Myers hasn't been the most relevant of defenders this season but there was a sighting in the City of Fires Saturday evening in a shootout loss to Columbus as Myers scored twice, the second of which coming with 25 seconds left to send the game to overtime. However, Myers may be hearing his name called again by the league's Department of Player Safety for his check on James Wisniewski in the first period. Regardless of the spinning wheel of justice, Myers seems to have been playing better hockey since returning from his suspension, notching three points in those two games.

Buffalo has been playing some better of hockey of late in terms of generating offense (see Tyler Ennis) and Myers stands to benefit. The Sabres might be one of the worst teams in the league, but they're going to score a goal every now and then. Myers still has the skill set that saw him grab 48 points as a rookie and another 10-goal season in his sophomore campaign, but he's been elusive the two years since. A strong second half could make Myers a heady pickup for the season's final 30-plus games.

John Carlson, Capitals: Few defenders had fallen off the collective radar of most standard format league owners than Washington's Carlson. Following a 37-point rookie season and 22 points in 48 games last year, Carlson was expected to do a bit more than the 17 points he has through these 48 games. The American Olympian, still only 24 years old, has a solid eight goals on the season, but it's the nine assists that are a little surprising considering the power-play time he is seeing on the Caps and the up-and-down production of teammate Mike Green.

Carlson slammed home a goal in Friday's loss to Columbus, Washington's lone goal. The tally was his first since December 20 and just his fourth point since the end of November. Carlson is a player with talent, but can't seem to generate consistent production despite the positives of his situation. He's shooting the puck at a rate much higher than his first two seasons, 131 through 48 games and he has seven of his season's 17 points on the power play.

If Carlson is available in your league, snatch him up. It won't cost you much and it could pay off.

Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets: Likely to be one of the first calls made by USA hockey if there is any injury to any of the defensemen heading to Sochi, Johnson's name has been buzzing through the media since it was not called New Year's Day. Johnson was one of the primary subjects of Scott Burnside's piece detailing the selection of the US hockey team, but hadn't been active until the last week with five assists over a three-game span, including two Friday in the win over Washington. Had Johnson been producing at this rate throughout the season, there likely would have been little debate about his inclusion for Sochi. Regardless, Johnson appears to be playing headier hockey of late for the surging Blue Jackets, a team very much in the Metropolitan Division playoff race. Johnson has the experience and track record of being a productive defensemen and he's still seeing power-play time, although he has been ceding a bit to Ryan Murray of late. James Wisniewski may also take some of Johnson's scoring chances. Johnson certainly fits the billing of a buy low, low-risk acquisition.

Poolies might also want to look at Murray, who has six assists in eight games since the calendar changed to January. Murray's not the most reliable of defensive players, something to consider as the rookie battles for ice time on a crowded blue line.

Tobias Enstrom, Jets: Certainly one of the larger disappointments of the season, Enstrom simply has not been scoring or generating offense at the rate owners were expecting. Never to be confused with a defender capable of slamming home 10-plus goals a season, Enstrom had been a steady source of assists and owned a solid points-per-game rate over his last several seasons, all of which had been plagued by nagging injuries. This year, though, he's been healthy; health which has resulted in a mindboggling 15 points through 70 games.

The Jets are a team in transition having recently hired Paul Maurice, a team that has been scoring more than most were expecting of late. One of Maurice's decisions that could benefit Enstrom is to play Dustin Byfuglien at forward at even strength. Buff, currently third in defensemen scoring with 38 points, is still playing the point on the power play, but Enstrom could see more scoring chances at even strength, albeit for a team that wasn't terribly productive before Maurice arrived in Manitoba. Enstrom has just two points in the last four games, but Maurice seems to be deploying him freely on the power play.

Enstrom is certainly an option if you need help in deeper leagues, but budding star Jacob Trouba has snagged three goals in the last two games, including two Saturday against Edmonton. Trouba is eating power-play time as well and should definitely be relevant in keeper leagues. Remember, Trouba broke out early in the season and then fell victim to injuries and lacking production.

Alexander Edler, Canucks: While the Canucks will undoubtedly dominate the discussion in hockey circles for their opening faceoff line brawl with Calgary Saturday, the team welcomed back a comforting figure on the blue line in Edler. The Swedish Olympian has returned from a month-long absence and notched two assists in four games, both of which have come on the power play. Edler is no stranger to production, having cracked 40 points in two of the last three full seasons and likely would have done so in 2011 were it not for an injury, as he had 33 points in 51 games.

Edler is a prime candidate for a bounceback as he hadn't been terribly productive before missing a month with just three goals, 11 points and a minus-12 rating. Vancouver isn't hurting for defensive scoring with Jason Garrison and, to a lesser extent, Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis, but Edler should slot back in with the team's scoring lines and generate some offense.

Waiver Wire: Owners in need of a defensive boost might want to check out Tyson Barrie of Colorado (five points in the last seven) and Tampa's Mark Barberio (scored twice Sunday against Carolina and had an assist Saturday against San Jose, giving him three points in the last two tilts).

Lastly, those in Olympic pools might want to look toward Latvia. Sadly, Arturs Irbe will not be in goal, but former Av and Duck Sandis Ozolish will be skating again.

Question of the week: Make a six-man defensive corps out of defensemen not going to Sochi.

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Player News
Joel Ward
Ward Nets Goal In Game 7 Win
Joel Ward, RW, WAS
4/29/2015
News: Joel Ward scored his first goal of the playoffs during Washington's 2-1 win over the Islanders on Monday.
Analysis: Joel Ward finished the series with a goal and three assists in seven games. Working on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and garnering play on the team's second power-play unit, Ward has some excellent sleeper value in playoff pools as the Capitals ready for a second-round matchup with the Rangers.

Thomas Hickey
Isles' Hickey Grabs Assist In Game 7 Loss
Thomas Hickey, D, NYI
4/29/2015
News: Thomas Hickey recorded an assist on the Islanders' only goal in Monday's Game 7 loss to the Capitals.
Analysis: Not only was the assist Thomas Hickey's only point of the postseason, but his first since March 28, ending a 12-game scoring slide. Hickey carries his most utility for the Islanders for his ability to block shots, but it's unclear if he'll be retained by the team as a restricted free agent this coming summer. The Islanders have two near NHL-ready defensive prospects on hand in Ryan Pulock and Griffin Reinhart, and may be inclined to let go of Hickey to clear out a spot for one or both players.

Evgeny Kuznetsov
Kuznetsov's Game-Winner Sends Caps To Second Round
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WAS
4/29/2015
News: Evgeny Kuznetsov netted the game-winning and series-winning goal in Monday's Game 7 against the Islanders.
Analysis: Widely touted as a Calder Trophy candidate coming into the season, Evgeny Kuznetsov early struggles prevented such talk from materializing, but he's really found his stride over the last two months. Since the start of March, he's compiled eight goals and nine assists over his last 26 games, highlighted by a career-high three-point performance in Game 5. The late surge could make Kuznetsov a chic post-hype sleeper come draft time next season.

Alex Killorn
Bolts' Killorn Paces Attack In Game 6
Alex Killorn, C, TB
4/29/2015
News: Alex Killorn netted a goal on a team-high seven shot attempts in Monday's Game 6 victory over the Red Wings.
Analysis: After the Bolts raced to an early 3-0 lead, the Red Wings responded with two Tomas Tatar goals before Alex Killorn closed the door on their comeback bid. It's just the third point of the postseason for Killorn, whose production often crests and wanes with Steven Stamkos, his usual linemate. With Stamkos struggling through the first six games, it may be difficult to count on Killorn building on his Game 6 performance.

Philipp Grubauer
Caps Reassign Grubauer To Hershey
Philipp Grubauer, G, WAS
1:29 PM
News: Philipp Grubauer was reassigned to AHL Hershey on Tuesday.
Analysis: After Philipp Grubauer guided the Capitals to a win in Game 2 of their first-round series against the Islanders when Braden Holtby was out with an illness, coach Barry Trotz elected to keep the German goalie along for the rest of the round as a reward of sorts. However, with Holtby healthy and unlikely to surrender the net the rest of the way, the Capitals determined Grubauer would be better off getting regular action for Hershey, which is in the midst of its own first-round series with Worcester in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Justin Peters will serve as Holtby's primary backup until Grubauer likely rejoins the Capitals following Hershey's playoff run.

Nate Thompson
Ducks' Thompson Nears Return
Nate Thompson, C, ANA
11:46 AM
News: Nate Thompson (upper body) appears poised to return to the Ducks' lineup, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Per the report, Nate Thompson took regular turns at Tuesday's practice with Emerson Etem and Tim Jackman on the team's fourth line, so barring a setback, look for Thompson to be available for Thursday's Game 1 against the Flames. The veteran pivot finished up the regular season with 18 points in 80 games, so his status is only of note in the deepest of fantasy formats.

Patric Hornqvist
Penguins' Hornqvist Played Through Rib Issue
Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT
10:17 AM
News: Patric Hornqvist played through a broken rib during the NHL playoffs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: Patric Hornqvist, who managed to rack up three points in five playoff games prior the Penguins' recent elimination, will now have a full offseason to heal up and will presumably be 100 percent by the time training camp rolls around. In his first campaign with Pittsburgh, the 28-year-old winger notched 25 goals and 51 points in 64 games.

Travis Hamonic
Isles' Hamonic Recovering From MCL Injury
Travis Hamonic, D, NYI
10:07 AM
News: Travis Hamonic relayed Tuesday that the injury that sidelined him of late was a torn left MCL, Newsday's Arthur Staple reports.
Analysis: Travis Hamonic, who last suited up on April 10, noted Tuesday that if the Isles had advanced past the Caps on Monday, that he hoped to play by the end of the second round of the NHL playoffs. With the Islanders having been eliminated, however, Hamonic now has the offseason to recover and he should be back at full strength well before the team re-assembles in advance of the 2015-16 season.

Keith Yandle
Rangers' Yandle Misses Practice
Keith Yandle, D, NYR
9:33 AM
News: Keith Yandle (soreness) did not practice Tuesday.
Analysis: As Andrew Gross of the Record notes, Keith Yandle -- who is dealing with overall body soreness -- has not practiced or participated in a morning skate with the Rangers since April 18, when the blueliner absorbed a Blake Comeau body check. That said, Yandle hasn't missed any game action since then, with the Daily News relaying that the defender is slated to remain in the Rangers' lineup for Game 1 of the team's second-round playoff series.

Erik Karlsson
Sens' Karlsson Up For Norris
Erik Karlsson, D, OTT
8:46 AM
News: Erik Karlsson has been nominated for the Norris Trophy for the 2014-15 NHL season OttawaSenators.com reports. This is his second nomination - Karlsson won the award in 2012.
Analysis: Erik Karlsson - who has become an All-Star in his first three professional seasons - is still a "young" player in the NHL at a mere 24 years old. Karlsson tallied 21 goals and 45 assists in the 2014-15 campaign - becoming the youngest player to record over 200 assists since Brian Leetch accomplished the feat in 1991 at 25 years old. Karlsson shows no signs of slowing down his point production any time soon - quite the contrary, Karlsson had the stamina to log over 32 minutes of ice time in Game 6 of the Sens' first round Eastern Conference playoff series against Montreal.

 
 
 
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