Well Ryan O’Reilly didn’t get traded after all.
O’Reilly is a great example of how a player can be popular and great without being particularly noteworthy from a fantasy perspective. He did break out in 2011-12 with 55 points in 81 games, but he hasn’t played in the NHL for a year and has only played in 12 KHL contests since the start of 2011-12. It won’t be shocking if he’s rusty and has trouble putting up significant offensive numbers in what remains of the 2013 campaign. Plus, given how big a leap he took last season, he was a risk to regress even before this mess. He’s an intriguing story, but not much of a fantasy option for now. He might make for a good sleeper pick in 2013-14, though, once the dust settles and he gets the benefit of a full training camp and starts the year with everyone else.
Drew Shore (C – Florida Panthers) – Shore’s coming off a big month wherein he scored two goals and registered 10 points in 13 games. That’s led to the Florida Panthers leaning on him extensively. He logged a career-high 21:09 minutes on Thursday. He’s a rookie, so it won’t be shocking if he hits a rough patch at some point. At the same time, he has enough offensive upside to make him worth taking a chance on at this point.
David Desharnais (C – Montreal Canadiens) – Desharnais broke out with 60 points in 2011-12, which was good enough to put him into a tie for 56th place in the NHL scoring race along with Milan Michalek and Corey Perry. All the same, most fantasy owners didn’t hold him in particularly high regard and he’s only owned in 16% of Yahoo! leagues. The fact that he got off to a slow start didn’t do him any favors, but he’s bounced back with seven points in his last seven games. He had a solid run in the second half of 2010-11 as well after years of excelling in the AHL, so there is reason to believe his 60-point campaign wasn’t an anomaly. Consequently, it’s not hard to see him picking up the pace in the second half of the 2013 campaign after recording 12 points in 20 games.
Derek Stepan (C – New York Rangers) – Stepan had a solid rookie campaign with 45 points in 2010-11 and has been steadily growing since. He’s become a major part of the Rangers at this point and is averaging an impressive 20:39 minutes per game. Given the top-end talent the Rangers have, that’s presented him with a golden opportunity. He hasn’t flourished despite that, but the Rangers have also gotten off to a rough start, especially offensively. The Rangers look good to bounce back in a big way in the second half of the season and Stepan would be a major beneficiary.
Patric Hornqvist (RW – Nashville Predators) – Hornqvist is coming off of a disappointing campaign in which he scored 27 goals and 43 points in 76 games. On top of that, he’s been limited to just 11 games in 2013 due to a knee injury, so he’s been easy to overlook. Given that, it’s not surprising he’s owned in only 19% of Yahoo! leagues. However, Hornqvist is one of the Predators’ best offensive weapons and consequently gets a ton of playing time. He has seven points in 11 games despite the fact that he’s only managed to score twice on 47 shots – which is about half his career success rate. Look for him to start scoring goals with greater frequency in the second half the season.
Antoine Roussel (LW – Dallas Stars) – Finding players who can get in penalty trouble is easy; finding ones who can help you out offensively at the same time, tough. As a 23-year-old rookie, Roussel is a huge gamble when it comes to his offensive talents, but he does have some upside as far as bottom-six forwards go. What sells him is the fact that he’s a safe bet when it comes to PIM. He has 20 penalty minutes in 12 games and if anything, his PIM/game ratio should increase as the season drags on. He’s also been hot recently with three goals and six points in his last six games. He’s not completely devoid of offensive talent, so the fact that he’s had a bit of an outburst isn’t shocking, even if it’s not sustainable. Still, he’s not a bad guy to pick up in the hopes that his hot streak will drag on a little longer. If nothing else, you’ll probably get some PIM out of it.
Matthew Stajan (C – Calgary Flames) – Stajan is easy to dismiss because of how badly he seemed to crater in Calgary after being given the opportunity to play alongside Jarome Iginla. Even as I recommend him, I have to do so with an asterisk because he’s given us false hope before. There are a couple reasons to think this time might be different though. First, he’s not just some guy with promise who never lived up to it; he actually did post back-to-back 50-plus point seasons and while that’s not enough to get too excited over, it does show he is capable of being a factor when given an opportunity. Secondly, with a new coach in Calgary, he has gotten that second chance for a sustained period of time. He’s averaging 17:09 minutes per game, up from 13:01 in 2011-12 and 14:14 in 2010-11. Flames coach Bob Hartley has sung his praises, using words like “love” and “unbelievable” to describe him. It sounds like Stajan’s top-six spot is relatively secure especially now that Jarome Iginla is heating up, he might end up recording about .6 points per game.
Sergei Kostitsyn (LW – Nashville Predators) – Kostitsyn couldn’t have gotten off to much worse of a start this season, but he’s bounced back recently with a goal and six points in seven games. He’s only a play in deeper leagues, but if you’ve been scared off by his early slump, now’s a good jumping on point. Look for him to average about .5 to .6 points per game for the remainder of the season.
Michael Ryder (RW – Montreal Canadiens) – Ryder is a bit of an odd case, so we’re going to talk about him a little even though he’s already owned in 42% of Yahoo! leagues. Ryder broke out in 2011-12 with 62 points in 82 games, got off to a slow start this season, enjoyed a six-game point streak, and then was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Montreal Canadiens. His point streak ended with his debut and he was limited to 14:34 minutes after averaging 16:22 minutes per game in Dallas. So what should you make of all this? First off, he was traded Tuesday night, had to travel to meet up with the team in Toronto and adapt on the fly. It takes time for a team to adjust to a player and vice versa, but fortunately he’s already familiar with the organization and had the benefit of two off days following his debut. Ryder should get around .7 points per game in Montreal, with about half of them being goals, which makes him worth owning in most leagues.
Erik Cole (RW – Dallas Stars) – The other end of the Montreal-Dallas trade, Cole is owned in only 27% of Yahoo! leagues and, unlike Ryder, he was terribly cold going into this deal. He also had a discouraging first game, but for the same reasons we just went over with Ryder, it’s hard to read too much into that. For Cole, this change of scenery presents him with an opportunity to turn his season around in a way he did once before when the Edmonton Oilers shipped him to Carolina. When he’s at his best, Cole is a 30-goal scorer and 60-point player in an 82-game season, so if he’s available in your league, he’s worth taking a chance on in the hope that he’ll turn things around in Dallas.
Simon Gagne (LW – Philadelphia Flyers) – Let’s round out our theme of noteworthy players who got traded over the last week. Gagne is a bit different in the sense that he had essentially lost his roster spot with the Los Angeles Kings before his old team, the Philadelphia Flyers, took him back. This is a fresh chance for him and given the familiar environment and other offensive players he can skate alongside in Philadelphia, it wouldn’t be hard to see him bouncing back in a big way post-trade. Like Cole, you would essentially be picking him up pre-emptively in the hope of a breakout because the cost is so low and the potential gain so high. That being said, between Cole and Gagne, Cole is the safer bet and therefore the better option in this case if you’re trying to decide between the two of them.
Alexander Burmistrov (C – Winnipeg Jets) – Here’s one that’s more of a play for deeper/keeper leagues. Burmistrov might develop into a great offensive force, but that certainly wasn’t the case in his rookie and sophomore seasons. However, he got some playing time in the AHL over the lockout and lately he’s been effective with two goals and five points in seven games. The sample size is too small to tell if this is a hot streak or the start of something more, but given his potential, he’s not a bad gamble in leagues where you have to dig a little deeper.
Clarke MacArthur (LW – Toronto Maple Leafs) – MacArthur surprised a lot of people in 2010-11 when he recorded 62 points in 82 games and it wasn’t much of a surprise when he dipped down to 43 points last season. If MacArthur has one thing going for him this season, it’s that the Leafs are an all-around better, deeper team than they were in recent seasons. That’s helped MacArthur stay somewhat relevant even as he gets unremarkable minutes and it’s done wonders for his plus/minus, which sits at a career-high plus-seven. He’s still not anyone to get excited over, but he and the team are hot right now, which makes him a decent short-term pickup.