Unplucked Gems: Early Risers for Your 2010-2011 NHL Fantasy Hockey Lineup
Unplucked Sports brings you a fresh batch of available free agents in a majority of fantasy hockey leagues. The available players are broken down into three categories: Must Have, Space Available and Watchables. Patrick Baker brings you this week's picks.
Must Haves: James Wisniewski D, NYI
All hand gestures aside, James Wisniewski is on the verge of becoming an important part of the New York Islanders offense this season. His arrival from the Anaheim Ducks blue line, where he posted a 30-point (3G, 27A) season last year, paired with the loss of top power-play defenseman Mark Streit, should mean significant time for Wisniewski in all situations on the Island.
His plus/minus rating might be a little scary, but he moves the puck well and is not afraid to shoot, coming off a 146-shot season. Get him on your team after he serves his two-game suspension.
Must Haves: Tyler Ennis C, LW BUF
If you are reading this and don’t own Tyler Ennis, pick him up now. The 2008 first-rounder burst into the Sabres lineup with nine points (3G, 6A) in his first 10 games and decent playoff scoring despite Buffalo’s anemic offense in the postseason.
Ennis will be counted on for both even-strength and power-play ice time and found good chemistry last season with Derek Roy. Helping his cause, he is a favorite of head coach Lindy Ruff, who trusts this diminutive forward and will roll him out for important minutes this season.
Space Available: Jason Demers D SJS
Jason Demers started out the 2009-10 campaign with eight points in the first 10 games but cooled off as the season progressed and eventfully found himself back at AHL’s Worcester.
He finished the regular season strong and even saw playoff ice time. Demers' power-play production on the blue line with Dan Boyle boosts his value and could make him a wise addition to your D corps.
Space Available: Bryan Bickell LW CHI
Anyone who has watched a Chicago Blackhawks game this season has no doubt heard Bryan Bickell’s name quite a few times. Bickell has been skating with Patrick Kane on Chicago’s top line and in power-play time with Marion Hossa.
His play during these productive ice times has worked well for Chicago, and their depth has been challenge with all their offseason roster moves. Keep an eye on his production as head coach Joel Quenneville has other weapons in Chicago at his disposal.
Watchables: Alex Steen C STL
His play can be streaky at times, and these hot streaks can result in a point-per-game production out of Alex Steen. The former Toronto Maple Leaf has never been afraid to shoot the puck; he had 189 shots last season and posted a 24-goal campaign.
On a young, talented team like St. Louis, this center's opportunities will increase as the season progresses. He needs a few more games to prove this isn’t just another burst of scoring and that he can consistently put up numbers.
Watchables: James Van Riemsdyk LW PHI
It was only a matter of consistency last season for the Philadelphia Flyers' 2007 second overall pick, James van Riemsdyk. A fast start brought the talented left winger to the top line, but he lost his scoring touch and went ice-cold, netting only two points between Nov. 12 and Jan 1, a span of 21 games.
He bounced back in January before going cold again until the end of the regular season. If JVR can find a consistent scoring pace with all the weapons in Philadelphia, he is a player to watch for now.