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Frozen Fantasy: Early Black Friday Deals

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson is a four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Black Friday is a week away. And with it comes the best deals in the land. But why wait for a week if there's a big deal to be had right now?

The early bird gets the stud.

By U.S. Thanksgiving, we'll be at the quarter pole of the NHL season. By Black Friday, some fantasy owners will be in full-blown panic mode, particularly if they have one of the league's many underperforming high-end players. And trade winds will blow hot and heavy.

Get ready to deal. Or better yet, jump early.

The scoring leader board is littered with names that continue to surprise. But it's also missing a whack of big-name players who'll claw their way back to the top by season's end. And it's these guys who are causing their current owners nothing but grief.

Why not offer to take them off their hands?

The following list is by no means comprehensive. But it does include a lucky 13 early to early-middle draft picks who might just be had for 90 cents on the dollar. Buy low would be the traditional mantra. Remember - you're buying for the points to come, not the ones they've already scored. But you're using their pathetic outputs to try to drive down the asking price.

There are four guys behind the blue line who really stand out as serious underachievers. And yes, there are more (at every position) - these are the ones I think will rebound with some impressive future value. All stats are through Thursday.

Brent Burns (3/3/6, plus-3 in 16 games) only needs to stay healthy to excel in the Shark Tank. Jonas Hiller (5-7-4, 2.94, .905, 1 SO) fell off the turnip truck and hit his head at mid-season last year but he was a first-half All-Star. And he's given up turnips. Roberto Luongo (7-5-1, 2.97, .896) has always sucked in October and then turned studly. And he came within one game of a Stanley Cup. One game! And then there's Cam Ward (6-8-2, 3.27, .904, 1 SO) who's killing me in Friends and Family. But the fact remains he's going to play 70-plus games.

I'm also on the prowl for these underachieving forwards. I don't really need to explain why, do I? Jeff Carter (0/3/3, minus-3 in eight); Pavel Datsyuk (2/9/11, minus-4 in 17); Ryan Getzlaf (4/7/11, minus-7 in 19); Jarome Iginla (5/4/9, minus-10 in 17); Ilya Kovalchuk (3/7/10, minus-4 in 12); Rick Nash (4/8/12, minus-13 in 18); Zach Parise (6/5/11, minus-2 in 17); Eric Staal (4/4/8, minus-18 [league-worst] in 19); and Henrik Zetterberg (3/4/7, even in 17).

None of these guys are this bad. Not one. And their production over the last 60+ games will be nothing short of exceptional (as long as they can stay healthy - I'm looking at you, Zetterberg).

Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week.

Scott Clemmensen, G, Florida (4 percent owned) - This is a complete hunch but I can't help but wonder if Clemmensen doesn't start stealing time from Jose Theodore sooner rather than later. Theodore has been great this season but it's ugly when his game goes south. And that's more of a possibility now than ever before. Clemmensen sizzled in his season debut Tuesday (a shutout of Dallas no less). Theodore's loss Thursday could put Clemmensen back between the pipes Saturday. And the kitties' nasty, five-game sked between this Saturday and next hints of a possible platoon. Goalie points don't just drop out of the sky; you need to roll the dice whenever you can.

Grant Clitsome, D, Columbus (10 percent owned) - Schoolyard taunts aside, Clitsome is once again making a name for himself in Ohio. Yes, the Jackets absolutely suck but Clitsome is on a mind-boggling, mid-40s pace (despite a benching a couple weeks back). He's a great skater and is sneaky slick on the PP. Right now, his plus-minus could hold you down like an anchor. But even that has to be looking up pretty soon. Nine in 10 leagues are sleeping on this guy. Yours shouldn't.

Tim Connolly, C, Toronto (14 percent owned) - I can taste the bile in my throat as I write Connolly's name. But how can you resist a nifty playmaking center who'll get first-line ice time? Grab the Pepto Bismal and swallow hard - what's the worst thing that happens? Oh yeah, another injury. But sometimes the risk is worth it. Like all-you-can-eat suicide wings washed down with one too many Rickard's. Enjoy now and pay later. Then again, you'll have to come north of the 49th for that delicious yet gut-ripping combo.

Matt Cullen, C, Minnesota (11 percent owned) - Who's the Wild's leading goal scorer? Well, it ain't Dany Heatley - he has a measly five snipes this year. Cullen has eight goals to lead the Wild and is one off the team lead in points (12). He can't possibly maintain this goal pace for the entire season but he is on pace to deliver his usual 40-something point total. And his goal scoring isn't going to completely dry up (yet). Spot duty is an option in deep leagues.

Martin Erat, RW, Nashville (16 percent owned) - Injury plagued? Sure. But talented? You bet. And since his return from injury, this explosive winger has nine points, including five goals, in as many games. He's more of a passer than a sniper but I'll take it all. And so should you … at least until the next injury.

Jannik Hansen, RW, Vancouver (3 percent owned) - Hansen is living the dream. He has quietly and seamlessly slid into the coveted spot alongside - you guessed it - those Swedish twins in Vancouver. And in five games there, he has four goals. Yes, you read that right. This versatile and responsible winger is far more suited to lower-line duty but he's a worthy add as long as he's making waves with the Sedins. Live vicariously - you know that's what you want to do.

Matt Martin, LW, NY Islanders (2 percent owned) - Martin hasn't won a fight this season. But that doesn't stop him from giving it the old college try. He's dropped the gloves three times in his last five games, accumulating a tidy 29 PIMs for his efforts. He's even delivered a few points along the way. And he's on track to lead the league with 370 hits. He'll bring you some cheap gains in knucklehead categories for sure.

Steve Montador, D, Chicago (15 percent owned) - This gritty veteran has really surprised me of late. He signed in Chicago after a career year in Buffalo last year but he's always been better known for his abrasive disposition than his offensive excellence. That all changed this past week. He has a whopping six points (four goals, two assists) in his last four games. And two of those goals and both assists came on the power play. He even picked up a coveted Gordie Howe hat trick late last week. I expect this run to be short but he's certainly “value-add” right now, especially given Brent Seabrook's offensive swoon.

Mason Raymond, LW, Vancouver (4 percent owned) - He potted 53 points two seasons ago. And he's been cleared for contact. Toss out last year's disappointment and stash him on your IR. At worst, he could make for nifty trade bait before long. At best, he could spark some sweet lovin' with a speedster like Ryan Kesler.

Aaron Rome, D, Vancouver (3 percent owned) - Mr. Opportunity has seized his chance. You and I both know it's a total fluke but he's brimming with confidence after draining five points in his first five games after returning from a broken digit. His ice time will be trimmed back from his season-high 21:42 on Wednesday night but he could still net you a few quick points in both offensive and sin-bin categories. Just be ready to drop him as fast as you got him.

Brendan Smith, D, Detroit (0 percent owned) - Speed, skill and snarl - Smith has it all. He's the future of the Wings' back end and should be a decent short-term add while Ian White's face heals. He debuted Thursday night against the Sharks and didn't look out of place. The Wings will be careful with him and will give him every opportunity to play to his strengths. And that means there might just be a few points along the way.

Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota (1 percent owned) - This preseason dark horse is now wearing the silks in the twin cities after the struggling Marek Zidlicky went out with what appears to be a concussion. He manages to play bigger than his jockey-like stature and he moves the puck with aplomb. And his skills on the PP make him an ideal waiver snag for those of you desperate for blue line points. His star is about to rise.

Viktor Stalberg, LW, Chicago (5 percent owned) - Like Hansen (above), Stalberg is living a dream. Not twins ... not every man is THAT lucky. Still, he's skating alongside two of the hottest men in hockey right now - Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Stalberg's size and speed are a tasty complement to that dynamic duo and he's delivering - he's riding a four-game point streak (one goal, three assists) heading into Calgary on Friday night. Overall, he's on a near-50 point pace this season, a rate that would see him all but double his previous career best. I'm pretty sure there are a whole lot of leagues that could use a left winger like that. Check your wire. Now.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D, San Jose (2 percent owned) - Whoa...what a Thursday night for this intelligent and efficient defender. In one night, he doubled his season output with a goal and three helpers. He's certainly behind Dan Boyle and Brent Burns in the Shark Tank but it really wasn't that long ago that he had a 36-point season. His power-play time will be restricted because of Boyle and Burns but he'll likely get a bit here and there. And his plus-minus is going to be strong (it's already plus-8). He'll help in deep formats for sure.

Back to Black Friday.

There's one guy I'll won't target this year. And no, it's not Alexander Ovechkin (no-one will trade him any way). I'm going nowhere near the four goals in 17 games of Alexander Semin. He's just a whiny little round peg in a stronger, more-consistent square-hole system. All he's going to do is spin his wheels … all season long.

And if you happen to own the overachieving Johan Franzen, Kris Versteeg, Milan Michalek or Marc-Andre Bergeron … well, you already know what I'd do with those guys.

Actually, I have Michalek and Bergeron in one of my keeper leagues. Hmmmm...come here little owner, I have some shiny trinkets for you.

Bah-ha-ha-hah. It only takes one sucker to help you win your league. Oh shoot - was that my inside voice again?

Until next week.