We previously looked at the 12 most overrated hockey players (really, 11 plus Dany Heatley, who is not technically a hockey player anymore). These, in contrast, are the guys you actually want on your team and who have been ranked way too low, making them all readily draftable.
I have also decided to make up nicknames for each of them. And add a few limericks. Because why not.
10. James “The Wizard” Wisniewski, D, Columbus Blue Jackets
My Ranking (Value): 88 ($18)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 108 ($15)
Average So Far: 107.2 ($2.0)
Strengths: A, PIM, PPP, SOG
Weaknesses: Injury-prone, difficult-to-spell last name
Projected Stats: 72 GP, 7 G, 38 A, 45 P, 60 PIM, 20 PPP, 150 SOG
He has missed a ton of games in his career, so he’s a bit risky. But if he can stay healthy, The Wizard should do wonders. He doesn’t need a Power Glove to impress us.
9. Brad “Lady Byng King” Richards, C/LW, Chicago Blackhawks
My Ranking (Value): 117 ($5)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 156 ($9)
Average So Far: 157.6 ($1.4)
Strengths: A, PPP, SOG
Weaknesses: G, PIM
Projected Stats: 82 GP, 22 G, 42 A, 64 P, 16 PIM, 18 PPP, 210 SOG
There once was a man from the Bay,
Who went elsewhere and signed for great pay,
But his coach was a louse,
His scoring went South,
And now he must play with John Toews.
Even with a crappy 2013-14, King Richards was ranked 99th by the end. And now he’ll be dishing pucks to guys like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa. Not a bad deal. He should improve. Probably to the top 75. A really good pick in the late rounds.
8. Johan “Sebastian Bach” Franzen, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings
My Ranking (Value): 89 ($14)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 119 ($14)
Average So Far: 145.2 ($1.2)
Strengths: G, PIM, PPP, SOG
Projected Stats: 75 GP, 29 G, 31 A, 60 P, 48 PIM, 19 PPP, 240 SOG
The Great Composer was injured a lot last year, but his output in his limited time was pretty exceptional. Sprinkle in an arpeggio other stats, and you got yourself a great bargain, so long as he doesn’t break his leg or something.
7. Brian “ET” Elliott, G, St. Louis Blues
My Ranking (Value): 40 ($30)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 60 (23)
Average So Far: 72.4 ($7.2)
Strengths: W, GAA, SV%, SO
Projected Stats: 35 W, 1.94 GAA, .926 SV%, 6 SO
There once was a man named Halak,
Who tried but win he could not,
He turned into Miller,
But he was just filler,
And now just look what they’ve got . . .
The most underrated player in the NHL. As I described earlier, save one really awful stretch, Elliott has been downright out of this world in St. Louis: 88 GP, 54 W, 1.67 GAA, .934 SV%, 16 SO. He’s just never been given a starter’s job before. Until now. He should have some of the top stats in the league.
6. Tomas “Two-Ply” Plekanec, C, Montreal Canadiens
My Ranking (Value): 118 ($7)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 248 ($1)
Average So Far: 164.4 ($2.0)
Projected Stats: 81 GP, 24 G, 35 A, 59 P, 54 PIM, 14 PPP, 215 SOG
Understanding TP’s value is what separates great fantasy managers from the rest. He is very good — not elite, not top 10, but top 30 or top 50 — in every single fantasy stat that matters. So while he doesn’t get the attention of the big names, TP will clean up in every category, and he will chafe you in none. Even with an off year, he was ranked 130th overall. TP is a great pick at the back end.
5. Jakub “Discount Double Czech” Voracek, RW, Philadelphia Flyers
My Ranking (Value): 54 ($22)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 85 ($19)
Average So Far: 94.1 ($2.3)
Strengths: G, A, PPP, SOG
Projected Stats: 81 GP, 27 G, 43 A, 70 P, 34 PIM, 24 PPP, 230 SOG
Solid in everything but penalties, Double D was the 39th best fantasy player last year. And that was with Claude Giroux taking the first month of the season off. He should be in the top 30 this year. But I can safely push him back to 54, because everyone else is dropping the ball.
4. Taylor “Swift” Hall (aka “Kenny Miller”), C/LW, Edmonton Oilers
My Ranking (Value): 13 ($43)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 21 ($28)
Average So Far: 22.6 ($23.1)
Strengths: G, A, PIM, SOG
Weaknesses: Plays for the Oilers (and it’s not 1987)
Projected Stats: 76 GP, 30 G, 56 A, 86 P, 40 PIM, 22 PPP, 260 SOG
A former first-overall draft pick, Swift has 130 points in his last 120 games. And he’s only getting better. He could easily score 90+ points.
3. Cory “I’m So Sick of this Sh**” Schneider, G, New Jersey Devils
My Ranking (Value): 18 ($33)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 47 ($28)
Average So Far: 49.9 ($23.1)
Strengths: GAA, SV %, SO
Weaknesses: No respect
Projected Stats: 37 W, 2.01 GAA, .927 SV%, 7 SO
That Cory Schneider has not been the de facto number one goalie on an NHL team until now, but somehow Ondrej “Wait, Which Hand Does the Glove Go On?” Pavelec has been and still is (WTF!?!?!?!) proves there is no justice in the NHL (or at least that general managers and coaches can be really horrible at their jobs). The Justifiably Frustrated One will likely continue to do exactly what he has been doing for years: being an awesome goalie.
2. Nicklas “Get Off My” Backstrom, C, Washington Capitals
My Ranking (Value): 26 ($35)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 70 ($22)
Average So Far: 67 ($7.1)
Strengths: A, PPP, plays with Alexander Ovechkin
Weaknesses: Too dependent on Ovechkin
Projected Stats: 80 GP, 21 G, 65 A, 86 P, 50 PIM, 39 PPP, 220 SOG
Dude was ranked 12th overall in the entire league last year. And that was with an atrocious plus-minus. And Ovechkin doesn’t suck anymore (probably). He will be in the top 15 again this year. Letting him fall to 70 is just plain stupid.
1. Dustin “Where’s the Beef” Byfuglien, D, Winnipeg Jets
My Ranking (Value): 27 ($35)
Yahoo! Ranking (Value): 132 ($10)
Average So Far: 97.5 ($4.0)
Strengths: G, PIM, PPP, SOG
Weaknesses: +/-, cheeseburgers, playing defense, misspells his last name
Projected Stats: 75 GP, 20 G, 40 A, 60 P, 88 PIM, 25 PPP, 250 SOG
There once was a man with a shot,
Who could level a man on the spot,
His plus-minus could suck,
But who gives a . . . ,
‘Cause he scored more often than not.
A top 40 player and one of the three best fantasy defensemen in the game . . . And he’s ranked what!? This might be the worst I’ve ever seen. It’s like ranking Steven Stamkos behind Jonathan Cheechoo. Big Beef was the number two defenseman last year, and that was with, like, a minus-70 or something. The only defensemen you should consider ranking higher are Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban. That’s it. And those are debatable. These three guys are all pretty equal in terms of value.
So what am I missing, Yahoo!? No broken bones, no trades. He gets fat every summer, but that’s never bothered him before once October rolls around. You better get this guy in your league. There is no excuse.
Jeff Herman is a Blues fan, hockey nut, fantasy guru, family man, and attorney. He lives and works in St. Louis.