It is that time of year when watching for injuries gets to be crucial. Players suffering nagging injuries on teams that are unlikely to make the playoffs will likely be shut down. The Maple Leafs alone lost two defensemen in the last week. It makes picking on the weaker teams a little bit more fortuitous. Keep an eye on RotoWire’s depth charts for updated information.
Here are players to use this week that are in good situations and all skaters are $4,000 or less. I extended the upper limit for this first time this year because the center listed below is in a great spot this week and did not want to leave him off the list for $100. There will be a cheap goalie at the end as well.
Riley Sheahan ($4,000)
Over the last two seasons, Sheahan has emerged as one of the most understated players for the Red Wings. All the press coverage revolves around Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, also emerging stars like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. Sheahan, though, has been among the Detroit forward leaders in generating positive puck possession, and limiting opposing offenses. The fact that Zetterberg and Datsyuk are able to eat harder minutes certainly helps Sheahan in this regard. All the same, he’s performing admirably.
Sheahan has played at least 15 minutes in eight of the last ten games, and at least 16 minutes in six of them. That includes power-play time with Datsyuk, Nyquist and Tatar, a pretty good spot to be for offensive production. Even more important is that Nyquist and AHL scoring leader Teemu Pulkkinen have been placed alongside him of late. Considering they should be facing the third and fourth lines of Columbus, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it could be a good week for Sheahan. He’s fine for cash game purposes against Columbus and Philadelphia for sure.
Mark Stone ($3,600)
A lot of the press in Ottawa this year had gone to forward Mike Hoffman for his goal-scoring prowess, and goaltender Andrew Hammond for helping salvage a potential playoff entry. All the while, Stone ranks second on the team in points per 60 minutes at five-on-five (behind Hoffman). In fact, Stone’s mark of 2.5 points per 60 minutes is top-20 among 309 NHL forwards with at least 500 minutes played, and ahead of names like Corey Perry, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby.
Stone is unheralded because he’s a sixth round pick from 2010. However, he has 30 goals in 91 career AHL games and 20 goals in 85 career NHL games. He has a good release on his shot and is playing with Kyle Turris, a pretty good finisher himself. While games on Tuesday and Thursday aren’t ideal for Stone, facing Boston and Montreal, the games on Friday and Sunday against the Islanders and Flyers are good matchups. I would assume that going into Long Island that the Zibanejad line draws the top competition. I would rather use him in a GPP, but he’s not a terrible option for cap relief in a cash game.
Dwight King ($3,300)
King has recently been moved to the top line with Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar. That normally wouldn’t be a great thing, as that line is looked upon to shut down the opposition, which means plus/minus can be a concern. It hadn’t been that way with Kopitar in the past – he was plus-85 over the last three and a half seasons – but he’s a minus-4 on the year, a sign of a lot of things that have gone wrong with this Kings team.
With that qualifier out of the way, it’s worth noting that Los Angeles is going into Colorado on Tuesday, and the Avalanche are without the services of Nathan MacKinnon, arguably their most dynamic player. It doesn’t seem like plus/minus should be a big concern in that game, making King a solid cash game option. I’m less excited about Thursday’s game in Vancouver, as they will likely get the Sedin line, so cap relief in a tournament would seem to be the only option then.
Marek Zidlicky ($3,400)
The acquisition of Zidlicky at the trade deadline could prove to be fruitful. This is a good, proven defender who was on pace to crack 30 points for a pretty awful New Jersey team.
Where Zidlicky is going to draw his value is on the power play. He’s not playing that much less than Niklas Kronwall, as Kronwall is the lone defenceman on the Zetterberg unit, while Zidlicky is the lone defenceman on the Datsyuk unit.
The Red Wings have three more games this week, two of them against Columbus and Philadelphia. Not only are neither team playoff-bound, both are in the bottom third of the NHL in penalty-kill efficiency; the Blue Jackets are 23rd and the Flyers are 28th. With all the power-play time, and Detroit’s proficiency, Zidlicky is an absolute bargain at $3,400. He’s a great option for cash games against either team.
Michal Neuvirth ($6,800)
Neuvirth already has one win this week as the Islanders came back in rather dramatic fashion from a 3-1 deficit against Toronto to win 4-3 in overtime. The expectation is that Jaroslav Halak will get the game Tuesday against the New York Rangers.
Later this week, the Islanders play another back-to-back set against the Senators on Friday and Canadiens on Saturday. With the team expected to rest Halak in one of those games again, I would start Neuvirth in the other. Considering his price, he has a lot of upside in tournaments.
Some stats courtesy of Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference, and War On Ice.