October 15, 2011
Today's goal is to find you blue-line help on the free-agent market, making sure none of our recommendations are over the 50-percent ownership level. We'll fill the basket with a variety of pricing options, hoping to give something to players of all pool levels. Feel free to add your own names in the comments, but again, make sure they're owned in less than 50 percent of the Yahoo! world.
Marek Zidlicky(notes) (34 percent owned), Wild: Last year's injury-plagued season was frustrating, sure, but Z-Man posted 40 or more points and 78 or more games in each of the three previous seasons. And he was plenty productive in 2010-11 when his body allowed, logging a 7-17-24 line through 46 games. Zidlicky only has one assist through four games but points are on the way, even by accident; he leads the Wild in power-play time. His ownership tag should be considerably higher.
Brian Campbell(notes) (48 percent), Panthers: He's the team's leader in power-play time by a mile, and Campbell can still push 30-40 points if a team gives him a meaty role. He was lost in the shuffle somewhat in his final Chicago days, but the Panthers will give him all the ice he can handle. The plus-minus might not be pretty at the end of the day, but Campbell can still find the open man.
Matt Niskanen(notes) (6 percent), Penguins: You wonder what's happened to this story — Niskanen was a first-round pick in 2005 and had a 6-29-35 line in his second season before falling into obscurity. The Penguins are using him on the second power-play unit and Niskanen doesn't look out of place there (one PPG and 15 shots, which is tops at the position). He won't be handed a major role in Steel City, but there is still sleeper value here.
Andrej Meszaros(notes) (43 percent), Flyers: Generally I think of two things with this veteran: a steady defensive influence and a hard-to-spell name. But the Flyers have Meszaros in their power-play rotation (surprising given the depth of this roster) and he's off to a 1-2-3 push. If he can get over 30 points again and give us a strong plus-minus rating, as he did last year, we'll take it. It doesn't make him Mezzy Star, but you need some lunchpail guys. (And for what it's worth, I've got the Flyers going to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011-12.)
Kyle Quincey(notes) (2 percent), Avalanche: You're going to have to take this one on spec, as Quincey doesn't have a point through four games. That established, he does have a snappy 13 shots already and he's getting plenty of power-play time. He was a 38-point man as recently as 2008-09.
Ian White(notes) (33 percent), Red Wings: I'm surprised his ownership tag isn't a slight-bit higher. White can move the puck and he'll get a boost playing on the same pairing with Nicklas Lidstrom(notes). White only has one single point (a goal) out of the chute, but he's plus-4 and adopting to his new club nicely. He's also seeing regular time on the man-advantage. He's overdue for a 30-40 point season.
Grant Clitsome(notes) (13 percent), Blue Jackets: He's been the main quarterback for the Columbus power play in the absence of James Wisniewski(notes), and Clitsome should maintain some viable role even when the Wiz Kid comes back. Don't forget the sneaky 19 points Clitsome posted in just 31 games last year.
Marc-Andre Bergeron(notes) (13 percent), Lightning: I've been burned on this guy in the past, so I have to be careful. Just focus on this: 0-3-3- start through four games, and a spot on a Tampa Bay power play that should eventually be pretty good (it was sixth in efficiency last year). So long as the Tampa braintrust doesn't expect a well-rounded player here, we'll live with the specialist.
Sami Salo(notes) (4 percent), Canucks: Hurry up and grab him before he gets hurt again. Salo is getting some second-unit PP time and he's quickly rolled up 10 shots — he's never lacked for offensive ability. He hasn't played more than 70 games since before the lockout, but we still might see 8-12 goals here. Do you feel lucky?
Johnny Boychuk(notes) (7 percent), Bruins: He can blast the puck (eight shots) and the opponent (eight PIMs), and he'll also pick up some stray power-play time. If anything were to happen to Joe Corvo(notes) or Zdeno Chara(notes), Boychuk would probably step up to the first power-play unit.
And before we wrap, here's one name I wouldn't bother with:
Tim Gleason(notes) (8 percent), Hurricanes: The three assists and plus-7 rating sound nice, but he has just three shots in his five starts and he's never scored more than 21 points in a season. Heck, Gleason has just 11 power-play points over his career, covering 480 games. He gets paid to keep the puck out of the net first, second and third. I'm not chasing anything here.
Images courtesy of Associated Press