In Canada, we have our own version of Black Friday, called Boxing Day. (Apologies to my Canadian readers, who are already aware of this phenomenon.)
On Boxing Day, shoppers will line up before stores open, and then trample in to find the hottest discounts on electronics, furniture, appliances, clothing, sporting goods, and whatever else they desired for Christmas but didn’t receive.
So what does Boxing Day have to do with fantasy hockey? Just as you might search for items selling at less than full market value, you should always also be doing the same for your fantasy hockey team. Since your fantasy team has been standing still for the two-day Christmas break, this is also a good time to take stock of where you are and if there are superior assets on the waiver wire.
With the spirit of Boxing Day in mind, here are some bargain names that will be owned in approximately 50 percent or fewer Yahoo leagues – names that have likely been ignored despite good to great production. Speaking of Boxing Day, don’t forget about the World Juniors, which as always start on December 26! Go Canada!
Ray Whitney, LW, PHX – add/start
Whitney is fantasy hockey’s version of that great gift that we would find in the discontinued aisle. In other words, every time we think this guy is past his prime, he returns with yet another decent season. In fact, Whitney has been more than decent this season, scoring 32 points (12g-20a) with a +10 in 35 games. The Coyotes aren’t overflowing with options on the depth chart, so the Wizard will receive first-unit power-play time. In fact, five of his 11 points this month have been with the man advantage. Get him in there against an underachieving Kings team.
T.J. Oshie, RW, STL – add/start
Oshie is one player whose fantasy value is on the ups with new coach Ken Hitchcock. The energetic forward has been placed on Blues’ top line with Alex Steen and David Backes. After a slow start, Oshie has been raking in the points, scoring 18 points (10g-8a) in 23 games over November and December. Hitchcock’s responsible defensive style has also rubbed off on Oshie, who is at a +9 over those two months. He has added right wing eligibility in Yahoo leagues, which will make him a solid pickup as he attempts to eclipse his career high of 48 points set two seasons ago.
J.S. Giguere, G, COL – add/start
Don’t look now, but the wily old veteran is back at it. Jiggy has started all of the Avalanche’s previous four games, posting wins in all of them. More impressively, he has allowed just six goals over that span, and his save percentage in each of those games has not dipped below .939. His overall numbers this season (1.79 GAA, .934 SV%) are much better than those of expected starter Semyon Varlamov (3.14 GAA, .896 SV%). For what it’s worth, I don’t see Jiggy hanging onto the starting job, but Varlamov owners have a real dilemma on their hands. Expect the hot hand to start against a Wild team that has stumbled recently with six consecutive losses.
Michael Ryder, RW, DAL – add/start
You might not like the name, but you have to like the stats. After up and down stints in Montreal and Boston, Ryder has found a home in Dallas, scoring 13 goals and 24 points in 34 games. Ryder is also one of the league’s hottest scorers, as he has hit the twine in four consecutive games. Should the points dry up, he’s a player I wouldn’t hesitate to drop. But he’s a player you shouldn’t hesitate to add while the going is good.
Steve Ott, C, DAL – add/start
Ott, best known currently for his recent run-in with Peter Laviolette, currently sits fourth in the NHL with 74 penalty minutes. None of the three players ahead of him have higher point totals, which brings me to the reason that you should add Ott. The Stars’ superpest has points in four of his last five games, including a goal and assist in his last game against Nashville. Consider Ott the new Sean Avery without all the off-ice showbiz theatrics.
Derek Stepan, C, NYR – add/start
I seriously don’t know why Stepan is not owned in more leagues, since he has been clicking alongside Marian Gaborik for awhile now. The second-year center has 25 points (8g-17a) with a +12 in 33 games this season, including 13 points in 12 games this month. Stepan’s place on the Rangers’ top line has clearly impacted expensive offseason acquisition Brad Richards, who has only one more point this season; and Brandon Dubinsky, who has been in a deep freeze all season with just two goals. If it ain’t broke, then John Tortorella won’t fix it.