The NHL season is well under way and most of this season’s early surprises have already been scooped up. However, if you’re still hunting for diamonds in the rough, we have a number of short-term and long-term options available for you. Many of the players on this week’s list recently found themselves playing with some of the league’s top players, either due to injuries or line shake ups.
Tyler Bozak – C – Toronto Maple Leafs – If you’re in a Head-to-Head league and you’re looking for someone who will give you an edge in Week 6, then Bozak might be your man. First off, Toronto is one of just four teams that will play four times this week. However, the main reason you want to look at Bozak is because he’s projected to stay on the Kessel line with Tim Connolly expected to miss most, if not all of the week. Bozak registered two assists on Thursday with Connolly out of the lineup. Admittedly, playing with Kessel hasn’t always been a recipe for success for Bozak and if it had been, then he probably wouldn’t be available in about 98% of all Yahoo! leagues to begin with. However, Kessel has been red hot this season and (bizarrely) he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Kessel probably isn’t obtainable in your league if you didn’t draft him – at least not at a price that makes sense – but you should be able to leech off of some of his early success by obtaining those closest to him.
Derek Stepan – C – New York Rangers – Stepan had a solid rookie season with 21 goals and 45 points in 82 games. He got off to a slow start in his sophomore campaign, but he’s red hot right now with three goals and nine points in his last seven games. It certainly helps matters that he’s been moved onto a line with Marian Gaborik, though we wouldn’t count on that lasting. We’re mostly recommending Stepan as a short-term option, but he does have some upside and he might end up being someone you hold onto for the remainder of the season.
Daniel Carcillo – LW – Chicago Blackhawks – When it was first announced that Carcillo would play on the Blackhawks second line, I wasn’t too excited, but a couple things have made me warm up to Carcillo. First off, Chicago has stuck with the plan rather loyally. Although Chicago has tweaked their lines since the start of the season, Carcillo has retained his top-six position. He almost never on a special teams line, which is part of the reason why his playing time is a dismal 12:29 minutes per game (although that’s still better than the 7:46 minutes per contest he averaged in Philadelphia last season), but his chances of recording a point during those minutes has gone up because of the skill of those around him. Carcillo has six points, 32 penalty minutes, and a plus-seven rating in 13 games. If you’re looking at him, think Sean Avery circa 2010-11.
Colin Wilson – C – Nashville Predators – Like many other youngsters, Wilson’s playing time was severely limited in his first full NHL season and that skewed his numbers downward. 16 goals and 34 points in 82 games might not sound impressive, but it’s not as bad when you consider that Wilson only averaged 13:18 minutes per game. This season Wilson is averaging 17:10 minutes per game, including 2:54 minutes per with the man advantage. So given that and his talent, it’s not surprising that he has three goals and nine points in 15 games this season. A 50-point season – which he’s currently roughly on pace for – seems like a realistic goal for him and we wouldn’t be surprised if he end up with a bit more than that. It’s also worth noting that Wilson is getting playing time as a left winger, and it will obviously help his fantasy value if he gains eligibility in that position.
Adam Henrique – C – New Jersey Devils – With Travis Zajac out, the Devils entered the season looking for a center within their organization that was ready to step up and assume a top-six role. He wasn’t the first player to be put in that position, but lately he’s settled into it. He has four goals and seven points in his last seven contests and has played at least 17:54 minutes in each of his last four games. Zajac will probably be out until at least December, so if you pick up Henrique now, you might end up holding onto him for a little while.
Joe Corvo – D – Boston Bruins – Usually I don’t bother to mention players if they’re already owned in half of Yahoo! leagues, but honestly, I’m surprised that Corvo can still be had for nothing in 45% of the leagues out there. His slow start probably didn’t do him any favors, but it was his first month in a new organization and it’s not like the Bruins as a team were particularly effective in October. Corvo is an above average offensive defenseman who recorded 37 or more points four times with three different teams before coming to Boston. It’s not uncommon for roughly half his points to be recorded with the man advantage and that’s a trend that’s likely to continue, given that he’s one of the Bruins’ leaders in power-play points. He should also have a decent plus/minus rating this season as the Bruins continue to bounce back from their rough start and battle for playoff positioning. The bottom line is that if you’re hurting for a blueliner, and Corvo might be your best option available.