Brett Lockwood

In The Crease

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Second-Half Trade Targets

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Every year, no matter the sport—and hockey is no exception--there are players who are notorious for their second-half performances. Landing one of these NHLers could secure you the points you need to get the championship trophy on your mantle.

Without further ado, go ahead and feel free to target:

Forwards

Jason Spezza is the poster boy for second-half efficiency. While it is certainly hard to buy into his skill set at this point (he has been injured for the majority of the season), he makes for the ultimate buy-low candidate. Spezza is notorious for his slow starts and second-half resurgence. Last season he had 19 points before January and an incredible 38 points after. His 38 points was good for well over a point-per -game pace. With his legs good to go (due to not using them the last month), Spezza should be on every fantasy player's radar. We predict he rebounds from a poor first half and puts up solid specs moving forward.

Scott Gomez is another whose post All-Star break numbers are usually very good. Last season he was a point-per-game player post AS break. The year before, in 2008-09, he had 32 points after the break. While he won't be 100% until Michael Cammalleri returns, Gomez could reach some nice totals if he is given the chance. We predict Gomez scores around .85 points per game after the break.

Defense

Paul Martin could be a real find for fantasy owners on the lookout. Martin is a guy coming into this season with some of the best plus/minus statistics around. While he seems to have struggled in 2010-11, fantasy experts know the best is yet to come. Just look at last year's numbers. Even though he was injured, he had 9 points in 13 games post All-Star break. He also sported a nifty plus-nine rating. The year before, in 2008-09, Martin put up 14 points the first half and 19 points the second half (playing 11 less games, mind you). Martin should see a nice spike in value when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin return from injury. For now, it could be wise to snag him and see what he can do from the back end. He is usually good for a 15%+ uptick in production.

Mike Green has been a disaster for fantasy owners who invested in him this season, but fear not, he will be fine! Green is another one of those second-half performers. He was even keel last season, averaging about a point per game both before and after the All-Star break but look deeper. In 2008-09, he had a surge of over 25% in production. Same thing in 2007-08: a 25% uptick in scoring. With the Capitals finally back to their winning ways, Green will have lots of value in the season's second half. We predict he will get his point level close to 55 per game. Join the Mike Green membership club, you will enjoy the ride.

Zdeno Chara is enjoying a fine season in Boston. While his numbers are good, they could become even better in the second half. Simply looking at his statistics from past years, one can see a nice surge on the horizon. In 2008-09, he went from .62 points per game before the break to .64 points per game after. He also tends to take a lot more shots in the second half of the season. With the Bruins likely to continue to get great goaltending, Chara's biggest value could be in the plus/minus category where he could potentially hit a plus-40. If that is the case, he would be one of the league's most valuable defensemen by year's end. Are you ready to add his usual 12%+ uptick in production to your roster?

Goalie

Tuukka Rask will be given every chance to split time in the Boston crease. While Tim Thomas is on an epic pace thus far, Rask will be a force down the stretch. An ESPNBoston report quoted Bruins coach Claude Julien as saying, "We're going to need both guys going. We can rely on both of them right now." Rask has been very unlucky this season, getting only 36 goals in support of his 15 starts. Even the best goaltenders in the league wouldn't pick up wins with that kind of lacklustre offense in front. Target Rask and hopefully he'll start to split time in B-town. He is on the verge of big things.

***Did you know?***
Plus/minus is always a tough category to nail. Imagine you were playing in a fantasy league in the early 1970s. You would have had the category nailed down if you'd drafted Bobby Orr. In 1970-71, he recorded the highest plus/minus ever for a season. The number? Plus-124.





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