December 20, 2011
We know you want some fresh hockey production under your holiday tree, so we won't have any position limits with this shopping list. Dig in and we'll try to get you help at various spots.
Everyone in this post is owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and I've tried to spread out the ownership numbers so we can get everyone a few names to consider. As always, your mileage will vary.
Matt Niskanen, D, Penguins (16 percent): Even with Sidney Crosby on the sidelines, the Pittsburgh power play is still a fun place to hang out. Niskanen has turned into the first-unit quarterback, en route to a 1-5-6 line and four power-play points over the last two weeks. Location, location, location.
Rich Peverley, C, Bruins (25 percent): Boston has three scoring lines in play, so don't fret if you don't see Peverley riding with the top line that often. Either way, head coach Claude Julien knows what the smart puck-mover can do on the power-play unit; Peverley is one of the 10 skaters used in that rotation. A tasty 2-13-15 line over the last month gets your attention, along with a solid 32 shots and 10 PIMs. Peverley might be getting right-wing eligibility later in the year.
T.J. Oshie, RW/C, Blues: (45 percent): Oshie has improved in each of his four seasons, though last year's step forward was partially obscured by a broken ankle that cost him two months of time. He's been a puck-firing machine over the last month (37 SOG), along with a 5-5-10 line and a spot on the top power-play group. The pedigree falls in line, as Oshie was a first-round choice back in 2005. You also get two positions of eligibility here, and some PIM juice. Versatile player, hidden player.
Danny Cleary, LW/RW, Red Wings (16 percent): He's found his best foot over the last two weeks (3-5-8, plus-9), clicking on Detroit's third line along with Darren Helm and Drew Miller. As much as I love Helm's game - he's the type of player you notice on every shift - I'd be more intrigued with Cleary's long-term value if he were parked next to Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg. But in the meantime, we'll take numbers where we can get them, not quibble over a hot forward who's producing.
Erik Johnson, D, Avalanche (43 percent): Again I'll admit I'm a pedigree chaser - you'll note that Johnson was the No. 1 overall pick back in 2006 and you wonder when he'll step up to star level. His plus-minus has been a mess for most of the year but he's on the good side for December, and there's also a useful 1-13-14 line for the season along with 60 shots. Johnson is still just 23; sometimes it takes extra time for tall defensemen to develop. Stay open-minded.
Olli Jokinen, C, Flames (47 percent): If you haven't been burned by The Joker at some point in your fantasy-puck career, you're probably new to the game. He's had trouble establishing himself as a long-term solution for us. But with a 6-7-13 line in December, along with five points on the power-play, we're going to temporarily waive the Jokinen Rules. Enjoy it while it lasts, gamer.
Ray Emery, G, Blackhawks (45 percent): He's on a five-game winning streak and he'll get another start Tuesday night at Pittsburgh. Emery's .909 save percentage doesn't make the angels weep, but anyone working behind Chicago's deep defensive group has a chance to be successful. Joel Quenneville has a history of sticking with a hot goalie, so this story could be around for a while.
T.J. Galiardi, LW, Avalanche (1 percent): This one is for the deep poolies, only, a Hail Mary if you're scraping the wire and there's nothing looking back at you. Galiardi's three goals in December might not move the needle for you, but he does have 25 shots over the last two weeks, a good indicator to chase. Give him a watch for Wednesday's home game with St. Louis and see if you like what you see.
Zach Bogosian, D, Jets (17 percent): You have to love any blueliner with 61 shots at this point in the year, and Bogie has a respectable 14 points despite limited power-play time. If the club decides to get him into the PP mix, we could see a 40-point season. We also appreciate Bogosian's willingness to mix it up (45 PIMs).
Martin Erat, RW, Predators (18 percent): The Nashville power play is quietly No. 3 in the league, and while the prominent defensemen (Weber, Suter) are the biggest element to the success there, the forward rotation also deserves some credit. Erat has 10 assists and four power-play points over his last four weeks, and for the year he has 20 points in 24 games. He's clearly over the upper-body injury that held him back in October.
And how about a bonus pick, just for the heck of it …
Daniel Alfredsson, RW, Senators (29 percent): Hey, remember me? Alfredsson has a nifty 4-8-12 line in 10 December games (including Tuesday's victory) and he's averaging more than three shots per game over that span. And obviously the Senators are a competitive outfit; the exact opposite of what we expected before the year. Make the add, for old-time's sake.
Images courtesy of US Presswire