Welcome back to another year of The Fantasy Files.
The season is well underway and some sleepers are starting to step up, and some veterans are starting to show their age.
You’ve built your fantasy team, and you’re making room on your trophy shelf, but before you’re ready to claim your spot among the pool leaders there are still a few holes you’d like to fill on your roster.
Who are the players you should target now?
Sam Gagner (EDM—C)
Sam Gagner is among the top ten players in the league for shots on net. He's tied with Marian Hossa and Vinny Lecavalier with 4.5 shots per game, however Gagner has yet to pot the puck.
He’s probably owned by another manager in your league, but they are likely frustrated with his slow start. Get him now for cheap while you still can!
As an added bonus, he’s playing on Andrew Cogliano’s wing. Sammy G should soon pick up the coveted RW status. Right wing appears to be the shallowest position this season; his eventual multi-position qualification could come in very handy.
Ales Kotalik (BUF—RW)
After back-to-back 40-point seasons Ales Kotalik appears to have found the touch that netted him 62 points in the 2005-06 season. He’s off to a quick start with three points in three games and is currently only owned in 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Buffalo is playing a defensive brand of hockey this year and it’s proven to work, getting them off to an enviable 3-0-0 start.
Michael Nylander (WAS—C)
Like Rodney Dangerfield, Michael Nylander gets no respect. He’s one of the most underrated fantasy players in hockey right now.
He is only owned in 23 percent of leagues, but since the lockout Nylander has gathered 205 points in 204 games. Just call him Mr. Consistency.
Despite his outstanding numbers, he doesn’t even get the respect he deserves on the Washington Capitals, with Nicklas Backstrom and Sergei Fedorov claiming the No. 1 and No. 2 pivot spots. But all that is going to change. Viktor Kozlov left the last game with an “undisclosed knee injury” and will be out a couple of weeks. Expect the Caps the lean on Nylander and for him to pick up the slack.
David Booth (FLA—LW)
I recommended Booth last year, and I'm going to do it again because he's still only owned in less than a quarter of leagues despite his blazing speed.
Sometimes it can be a good thing not to be on a team’s top line. The Florida Panthers have stacked their top line with Cory Stillman, Stephen Weiss, and Nathan Horton. This has led opposing teams to focus their best defensive players on that combination. Meanwhile, Booth has been able to capitalize on the open ice left for his shifts.
So far this season he’s registered three goals in three games. Pick him up now while you can and ride the hot streak until other teams become wise. It won’t last forever, but it sure will be nice while it does.
Sergei Kostitsyn (MON—LW)
No, I didn’t say Andrei.
Last year I recommended brother Andrei as the safer fantasy choice, and he delivered with a 53-point campaign. Younger brother Sergei chipped in with 27 points of his own.
But this year, it's Sergei’s year to shine. He’s already off to a solid start with four points in four games. While he won’t finish the year with 82 points, I don’t expect his production to drop dramatically. A season similar to Andrei’s mark last year is within reach.
I’d also like to give a shout out to reader Francois who writes in “Sergei Kostitsyn is way more talented than his brother. I have seen him play since being called up and there is always something happening when he has the puck in the offensive zone.”