We’re past the halfway point of the season, but there are still a number of rookie and sophomore players who have gone largely unclaimed and are worthy of your attention. This week, we’ll highlight them while also taking a closer look at some hot veterans who should put up impressive numbers for the remainder of the season.
With Daniel Carcillo
expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, the Blackhawks have turned to Shaw to take his place as the tough guy on the second line. Shaw has done nothing to disappoint, recording 24 hits in nine games while chipping in with five goals and six points. His early goal scoring success has caught people’s attention, but fantasy owners should regard him as a Sean Avery
type of player in the sense that he’s capable of averaging about 0.3-0.4 points and two-to-three penalty minutes per contest. Shaw has just seven penalty minutes so far – mostly thanks to a fight he got into in his NHL debut – but he also has 80 PIMs in 33 AHL contests this season. If that’s the type of player that appeals to you, then you should scoop up Shaw before someone else does.
-LW/RW-Detroit Red Wings
Bertuzzi saw his responsibilities with the Red Wings diminish in the early part of the season and his fantasy value took a huge hit as a result. He had only three points in nine October games while averaging 13:11 minutes per contest. However, his playing time and production began to sky rocket in late November and he’s never looked back. Going into Saturday’s contest, he has nine goals and 21 points in his last 26 games and he wasn’t held off the scoresheet in three straight contests over that span. Bertuzzi is currently playing with Johan Franzen
and Pavel Datsyuk
and he should spend the majority of the second half serving on one of the Red Wings’ top two lines.
Read was never drafted, but the 25-year-old positioning himself as a darkhorse candidate for the Calder Trophy. While his playing time can vary significantly from game-to-game, overall he’s averaged 17:19 minutes per contest, which puts him on par with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
. Read has also managed to avoid being the victim of a major cold streaks despite his changing and evolving role. He has never gone more than four games without a point and he’s ended up with at least seven points in each of his first four months. Although he’s never gotten too cold, he has gone through some particularly hot patches and he’s currently in the midst of one of them. Read has two goals and eight points in eight games going into this weekend’s contests, making him a valuable short-term pickup in addition to being a viable long-term option.
-G-Columbus Blue Jackets
If you gave up on Sanford during his December rough patch, it’s time to give him another look. He’s bounced back nicely with a 2.27 GAA and .923 save percentage in seven January games. What’s just as important is the fact that the Blue Jackets have decided to select him as the starter in six of their first eight contests this month. Although landing the number one goaltender on the NHL’s number 30 team isn’t exactly a dream scenario, Sanford should maintain a solid GAA and save percentage, even if he ends up with a win less than half the time.
Desharnais has had to claw his way to success. He had three straight seasons of posting 30+ goals and at least 97 points in the QMJHL, but he went undrafted. He had to spend the bulk of the 2007-08 campaign in the ECHL, where he had 106 points in 68 games before he could land a permanent spot with the Hamilton Bulldogs. It took him two and a half dominant seasons in the AHL before he got his first extended period with the Montreal Canadiens last season. He ended up with a solid 22 points in 43 games in 2010-11 while averaging a lackluster 12:52 minutes per contest. However, this season has been different. He ranks fifth on the Canadiens in terms of power-play minutes per game and third among Montreal forwards with an average of 17:53 minutes. Desharnais got off to a so-so start, but he has four goals and 19 points in his last 22 games, including six points with the man advantage. At the time of writing he’s only owned in 11% of fantasy leagues and is worth taking a chance on.
If there’s one obvious deterrent from recommending Hodgson it’s his playing time. Unlike many of this season’s top rookies such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
, Adam Henrique
, and Matt Read
, Hodgson very rarely ends up logging 15 minutes or more in a single game. Despite that, Hodgson has been on a tear lately with five goals and 12 points in his last 15 games. He’s worth riding while he’s hot, although short of an injury to one of the Canucks’ current top-six forwards, we don’t see his playing time increasing dramatically.