We all wish we'd had the foresight to draft Henrik Zetterberg or Paul Stastny in the third round this year—but not all NHL Fantasy teams were so lucky.
Instead, many of you now find yourselves dumping your sleeper picks for fringe players. Your late round “steals” of Patrick Eaves and Marc Staal didn’t work out as planned...so what are you to do?
Fear not—there are still MANY talented players available on most waiver wires or trading blocks.
The secret to being successful in Fantasy hockey is to treat the league like the stock market. Buy low. Sell high. But, who should you target? Who should you offer?
Here are my recommendations for the first week of November...
Jump On It
* Slava Kozlov (ATL – LW)
Chances are some frustrated manager in your league has already dropped this Russian vet.
Fantasy rule No. 1: Don’t panic. Slava should never have been dropped in any league.
During his tenure with Atlanta, Slava has posted 279 points in 330 games. Not only is Slava a point-per-game contributor, he also plays one of the hardest positions to fill.
Kozlov's been demoted to the third line to jumpstart his play—and it appears to be working, as he’s posted three points in the past two games. He'll be playing 20+ minutes per game again in no time.
* Carey Price (MON – G)
If you haven’t figured it out already, this kid is the real deal. Montreal didn’t keep him in the big show to let him ride the pine all year.
An 18-year-old needs to play a lot in order to develop. Price has beaten the talent-laden Penguins twice this season, and you can expect a lot more wins from this rookie.
* Ondrej Pavelec (ATL – G)
Keep an eye on the young backstop in Atlanta.
The Thrashers are traditionally thin at goalie—but this season GM Don Waddell has a contingency plan for Lehtonen's frequent injuries.
During two years in the QJMHL Ondrej posted a record of 55-29 for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Expect this young phenom to take full advantage of every opportunity he's given—especially with Lehtonen already on the shelf with a groin injury.
* Jan Hlavac (TB – LW)
After a stint in Europe, the veteran winger finds himself back in the NHL. While he'll take some time to adjust to the North American game, it won’t be long before he starts reaping the rewards of playing alongside the talented Brad Richards.
If you can afford to take a small hit on your plus/minus, pick him up for the assists he’ll eventually begin to accumulate.
* Taylor Pyatt (VAN – LW)
Pyatt only has six points on the season so far, but that earns him a spot alongside either the Sedins or Naslund and Morrison.
Coach Alain Vigneault keeps juggling the lines—but wherever he lands, Pyatt can easily score 50 points this season.
* Nicklas Backstrom (WAS – C)
Amidst the hype surrounding Price, Kane, Toews, Cogliano, and Gagner, the Capitals' star rookie has been forgotten in many Fantasy circles.
Backstrom was predicted by many analysts to win the Calder Trophy—and it’s hard to imagine he won’t start slamming pucks into the twine soon.
* Devin Setoguchi (SJ – RW)
The Sharks seem to have a bottomless well of talented young players.
Setoguchi has three points through three games in the NHL, and is getting time playing with various Fantasy studs. Who knows which line he'll end up on, but so far all the rookie's points have come with the help of Big Joe Thornton.
Is Setoguchi the new Cheechoo?
* Scottie Upshall (PHI – RW)
After joining the Flyers last season, Upshall notched 13 points in 18 games. After sitting out the beginning of this campaign with a broken wrist, he scored a goal in '07-'08 debut.
The Flyers have something to prove this year and are going to fight for every point. The 2002 first-rounder could turn a lot of heads.
* Dan Carcillo (PHO – LW)
Carcillo is this year’s Avery. He’ll earn you 150 PIMS and 40 points. If you have a league that counts PIMs as a positive, pick him up now!
Don't Believe the Hype
* Nik Antropov (TOR – C)
Antropov started the season on an incredible pace, but has slowed down significantly since being bumped from the first line to the second.
Trade him now before he gets hurt—again.
* Pascal Leclaire (CLB – G)
Raise your hand if you were smart enough to draft the Blue Jackets' backup.
Now raise your hand if you think he'll finish the season with the 31 shutouts he's on pace for.
Chances are Leclaire wasn't the goalie you were relying on to carry your team. If you have another starter or two on your roster and you can afford to give him up, do it.
By pawning him off to a team in desperate need of a ‘tender, you'll be able to land yourself a quality first-line forward. That's fantastic value for the 200th overall pick you likely used on Mr. Leclaire.
* Matt Cullen (CAR – C)
Is this the year the 10-year vet finally breaks out?
He's on pace for an 82-point season, but he’s never scored more than 50. At a deep position like centre, there are sure to be more bankable options.
* Pavel Kubina (TOR – D)
The second Leaf I recommend to sell high.
Sure, the Leafs lead the league in goals for—but they also lead the league in goals against. The Leafs defence is going to have to focus more on protecting their own end and less on scoring if they're to have any hope of making the playoffs.
* Bill Guerin (NYI – RW)
His career has been on the decline since he left Dallas. He’s bounced around the league since then, playing for San Jose, St. Louis, and now New York.
With Ted Nolan leading the youth movement in Long Island, the captain seems to be more of an asset in the dressing room than on the ice.
I'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments below. Who knows—maybe I'll include them in next week's article...