Welcome to the second instalment of our new weekly feature, Fantasy Hockey Stock Watch. In order to keep things somewhat fresh, I’ve tried to stray away from guys mentioned by John last week, unless I think they’ve changed categories. I would still list guys such as Bobby Ryan and Eric Staal, for example, as strong buys, for the same reasons John did last week. With that in mind, let’s have a look at some new names and where they stand at this point in the season.
Sam Gagner, C, EDM – I was poking around the Yahoo Sports waiver wire the other day, and was shocked to see that Sam Gagner was only owned in 22% of pools. The guy finished last season with a bang, is scoring at a point a game pace, and is seeing regular minutes on the Oilers’ red hot top line with Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky. There’s a good chance you can pick up Gagner for nothing at all, and you should jump at the chance.
Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS – Like Gagner, I mentioned Bergeron in the Filling in for Savard and Gonchar article last week. The second Savard went down with an injury I was quick to snatch Bergeron off the waiver wire. He’s still available in the vast majority of pools, and has seen his minutes increase drastically in Savard’s absence. He has 4 points and a +1 rating in his last 5 games, and has been dynamite in the faceoff circle, which can only increase his playing time. He’s also just 24 years old and has two 70+ point seasons under his belt, so this recent production looks more like a return to form than just a simple hot streak.
Alex Goligoski, D, PIT – I can’t stress this one enough. Goligoski has been a solid producer at every level at which he’s played. With Sergei Gonchar out for the foreseeable future, he should put up big numbers quarterbacking the Pens’ powerplay.
Jakub Voracek, RW, CBJ – The big Czech playmaker is starting to look like the player the Blue Jackets were hoping for when they took him with the 7th overall pick in 2007. Voracek is a big-time point producing talent, and he enjoyed a solid if unspectacular rookie campaign last year.
Derek Roy, C, BUF – Roy has yet to score this year, although he has put up 7 assists through 8 games. He’s actually shooting the puck more frequently than he did in each of the last two seasons, so it’s only a matter of time before they start going in.
James van Riemsdyk, LW, PHI – The second overall pick from 2007 looks ready to bust out, scoring at a point per game pace through his first 7.
Dustin Penner, LW, EDM – Penner is a big body who showed loads of promise as a young and emerging goal scorer before he worked himself into MacT’s doghouse. Pat Quinn seems to have figured out how to motivate Penner, and Penner is now a part of one of the top lines in hockey, with two slick playmakers Hemsky and Gagner feeding him passes. Any Penner owners will probably try and gouge you in a trade. On the flipside, it might be tough to move him for a lot with people being wary of his past. If you’ve got him, I say keep him. This pace might not continue, but I still think he’s going to finish above 30 goals and 70 points.
Craig Anderson, G, COL – Before you think that Anderson should fit into the hard sell category, have a look at his career numbers. Over his last two seasons in Florida, he posted save percentages of .935 and .924, and won 23 games despite getting only 40 starts for a non-playoff team. He was also named the OHL’s goaltender of the year in 2000-2001. He definitely has a solid resume. The Avalanche still seem more like pretenders than contenders to me, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on Anderson, but don’t dismiss him as a flash in the pan yet either. This is his first true shot at being a number one goalie, and he is running with it.
Jarret Stoll, C, LA – Stoll is now 3 seasons removed from his career-high 68 point season. He has struggled in each of his last two campaigns, but looks to have regained his form, and he’s still only 27 years old. That being said, he is still stuck on the Kings third line, so his chances to produce are limited. The jury is still out on this one.
Ales Kotalik, LW, NYR – Kotalik has been maddeningly inconsistent throughout his entire career. He is also usually on the wrong side of the plus/minus ledger. He will continue to score in bunches, and should end up with a goal total in the low 20’s, but you’re kidding yourself if you think he will keep up his current 37 goal, 82 point pace. Ship him off to the highest bidder.
Ryan Smyth, LW, LA – On pace for 41 goals and 102 points, are you kidding me? Smyth’s previous career high was 70 points, and that was 8 years ago. Smyth is a solid player, and should continue to provide great secondary scoring for a good young Kings team, but betting on players to shatter their career offensive bests at the age of 33 is a dangerous proposition. Smyth is probably way more valuable on the ice than he is in a fantasy hockey setting, so sell him to anyone in your pool who thinks otherwise.
Eric Belanger, C, MIN – Belanger has started strong, maintaining a near point per game pace to this point. He’s put up point totals in the mid-thirties for each of the last two seasons. This should be a no-brainer.