When perusing the Fantasy Hockey waiver wire for unclaimed gems, most owners look over a player’s season totals to determine his value relative to those who are also available. While season totals are an effective tool for assessing the impact a player has made on the ice compared to their peers, they may not be the most accurate tool for highlighting individuals who are ready to expand their level of production. In addition, players with impressive season totals across multiple categories will be hard to find at this point in the season, as anyone with eye-popping stats will likely have been claimed by now.
A solution to this dilemma is to filter the available player pool by their last two weeks of games. This method will accentuate individuals that may have had a slow start to the season but have been gathering steam of late. For the purposes of this column I have researched player performance throughout the month of November in an attempt to spot unclaimed skaters and goaltenders that have been producing at a high level throughout the past eight to ten games and have a chance to continue their success throughout the remainder of the NHL season. Below I have outlined six players from across the league that have elevated their games this month and are all owned in less than 50 percent of standard Yahoo! Fantasy leagues.
Devan Dubnyk G, Arizona Coyotes (Ownership – 13 percent): The Coyotes backup goaltender is making a serious push to take over the starting job from incumbent Mike Smith. Dubnyk has won all three of his starts this month, while only allowing six goals over that span. Even more impressive is that all three of these wins came on the road. With Smith only recording four wins in thirteen appearances this season, while posting abysmal ratios, the tide is turning firmly in Dubnyk’s favor to take over as the eventual starter in Arizona’s net. With a severe lack of quality goaltenders available in most Fantasy Hockey leagues, Dubnyk is worth jumping on immediately if you are in need of depth at the position.
Mike Hoffman C/LW, Ottawa Senators (Ownership – six percent): It’s no secret that a high volume of shots on goal are a great indicator of future Fantasy value. More shots will not only lead to more goals, but the rebounds buried by teammates will also contribute to the assists, plus/minus, and even power-play point categories if a player is getting ice time on the man advantage. Hoffman has been firing the puck all month long, posting 25 shots on goal in eight games of play. His propensity to shoot first and ask questions later has translated into six goals in November, which trails only Dallas Stars C Tyler Seguin and Nashville Predators rookie of the year candidate Filip Forsberg. At the minimum, place Hoffman on your watch list and if the shots keep coming, add him to your roster with confidence.
Kris Versteeg LW/RW, Chicago Blackhawks (Ownership – nine percent): With the lower body injury sustained by key forward Patrick Sharp this month, Versteeg has been one of the players counted on to step up and produce at a higher level. He has answered the challenge with three goals and four assists through eight November matchups. His nine penalty minutes over that span also show a willingness to play with a physical edge when his team needs it. Even when the Blackhawks return to full strength there is enough depth throughout the lineup that Versteeg will land in a scoring role alongside quality linemates, which should allow his level of production to continue throughout the season.
Tyler Ennis C/LW, Buffalo Sabres (Ownership – nine percent): With the Sabres in the lead of the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, posting only 12 points through 20 games of play, there have been few if any players on their roster worth owning in Fantasy Hockey leagues. However, their top line of Latvian C Zemgus Girgensons and Canadian wingers Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis has been developing some productive chemistry throughout November. Ennis’ two goals and five assists in nine games this month are a solid improvement over his five points in 10 October games. His 24 shots on goal and 19 penalty minutes this month also represent efficient peripheral production, which is a valuable and rare commodity for players this widely available in the free agent pool.
Jake Muzzin D Los Angeles Kings (Ownership – 40 percent): Drew Doughty’s running mate on the Los Angeles blue line has been making a case for himself this month as the more valuable of the two Fantasy defensemen. While their stats are nearly identical over the past 30 days, Doughty likely cost his owner a pick in the first five rounds of his draft, whereas Muzzin might still be available amongst your league’s free agents. In only his third season of play, Muzzin’s offensive game continues to improve, with his eight points through as many November contests as firm evidence. With his promotion to the Kings’ top power-play unit paying immediate dividends to the tune of three points in his last two games, combined with his burgeoning ability to deliver hits in bulk, Muzzin is now able to contribute across the entire Fantasy score sheet, making him an invaluable addition to any roster.
Cody Franson D, Toronto Maple Leafs (Ownership – 48 percent): Currently the eighth most added player in Fantasy Hockey leagues this season, time may be running out to acquire Franson from your free agent pool. Sharing the ice with the ever-physical Dion Phaneuf on the Maple Leafs’ top defensive pairing has allowed Franson the freedom to take chances up ice and contribute more to the offense. The results have been superb of late, with Franson scoring two goals and dishing out eight assists during nine November games. On pace to shatter last season’s career high of 33 points, Franson is a commodity on the rise who is well worth the investment of a pick up if you find him available in your league.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at email@example.com. I love talking with my readers and would be excited to hear how your teams are doing this season.