As the fantasy hockey season continues to progress, managers will undoubtedly be forced to make certain alterations to their starting lineups. While some managers might have placed stock in the wrong players on draft day, free agent pools usually offer the best, and sometimes most unexpected, surprises of a fantasy hockey season.
With injuries to key players being a routine part of fantasy hockey, managers in deeper leagues might want to look at some lesser-owned options in case a replacement is needed at some point in time during the season. There’s no guarantee that a manager will find a surefire gem in their respective playoff pool, but it certainly is worth a try if there are a dearth of options available at one’s disposal.
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Five Forwards Worth Considering
Alex Chiasson (Dallas Stars – RW)
It hasn’t taken long for Alex Chiasson to adapt to life with the Dallas Stars this season. After playing in seven games last year for the Stars and recording seven points (6 Goals, 1 Assist), Chiasson picked up right where he left off last season as he has scored in all four games that he has played for Dallas this year.
In four games played, Chiasson has registered five points (3 Goals, 2 Assists) and has been a fixture on the Stars’ top line so far. Playing alongside individuals such as Cody Eakin and Ray Whitney, fantasy managers should absolutely pick up Chiasson if they have an opportunity as his 14% ownership rate won’t last for long if he keeps producing at a similar clip all season.
Nathan Gerbe (Carolina Hurricanes – C/LW)
Nathan Gerbe has averaged a little more than 18 minutes of ice-time this year with the Hurricanes and has put up the points to back up such responsibilities given to him in Carolina. Despite the fact that Gerbe had somewhat of a drop-off in offense last season (10 points scored in 42 games) in Buffalo, the dual-position forward has begun the ’13-’14 NHL season with authority as he has scored five points (3 Goals, 2 Assists) in six games played.
Not only does Gerbe’s eligibility at Center and Left Wing make him an appealing option in fantasy leagues, his ownership percentage in Yahoo! leagues is still only 12%. Fantasy managers might want to track Gerbe’s progress over the next few games, and if the forward keeps up his current production pace, then adding the C/LW to lineups should be a no-brainer.
Josh Bailey (New York Islanders – LW)
Much like Nielsen, Josh Bailey has been a steady producer for the New York Islanders during the early stages of the ’13-’14 NHL season. While Bailey has been somewhat of a streaky player over the last couple of years, the forward has seemingly adjusted quite well to a move over to left wing.
Last year, Bailey missed the beginning of the abbreviated ’12-’13 NHL season, but finished with 19 points (11 Goals, 8 Assists) and was on pace to set career highs in terms of points scored. Bailey has seen some time on the Islanders’ top-line with John Tavares, and with Jack Capuano mixing his lines up a bit during Saturday’s contest against Nashville and yesterday’s practice Bailey might be in position to secure some top-six minutes. Despite the fact that Bailey has averaged only 14:27 of ice-time per game, the winger has already registered five points (2 Goals, 3 Assists) and could be in line for more in the very near future.
Frans Nielsen (New York Islanders – C)
Frans Nielsen has looked ready ever since the puck dropped on opening night against the New Jersey Devils. Over the last few years, Nielsen has been widely regarded as one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL, but the forward has kicked up his offensive production and is making it harder on fantasy managers to keep ignoring him in all types of leagues.
Throughout the first five games of the season, Nielsen has registered six points (2 Goals, 4 Assists) and has been a constant threat for head coach Jack Capuano – regardless of where the bench boss shuffles the talented Dane. Even though Nielsen might not put up a boatload of points, fantasy managers should expect the centerman to produce anywhere between 40-50 points over the course of a full NHL season if he is healthy. Players such as John Tavares and Matt Moulson might get all of the immediate fantasy hockey recognition, but it’s about time that some stock was put into Nielsen as the forward has constantly proven that he is one of the most consistent players on the ice, night in and night out, for the New York Islanders.
Alex Killorn (Tampa Bay Lightning – C/LW)
At 9% owned in Yahoo! leagues, Alex Killorn is looking like a must-own option early on in the season. Since Killorn is receiving ample minutes alongside Richard Panik and Valtteri Filppula, fantasy managers should absolutely be considering the forward as a potential roster addition.
Killorn has scored in four out of five games for the Lightning (2 Goals, 4 Assists) and has averaged nearly 18 minutes of ice-time so far this season, and if he keeps producing at a similar piece then he won’t be available in free agent pools much longer. Fantasy managers should keep a very close eye on Killorn as his 9% ownership rate has the potential to skyrocket over the next couple of weeks.