Hidden gems!

Eric Maltais

2008-01-23

Jeff Carter

 

You’d imagine with teams reaching the 50-game mark in the season that serious fantasy players would know everyone there is to know about in the NHL, but whatever the level of the league you play in I can guarantee that there are some hidden gems available either on the waiver wire or that you can acquire cheaply via trade. So here are ten players who are currently flying under the radar, but whom I expect will draw a lot of attention during the next 30 games or so.

Daniel Paille is a former first round pick, selected 20th overall, but his progression has been slow and his performance unremarkable in the AHL. Sometimes it just takes time for players to develop and it looks like it’s the case for Paille who has become a solid player for the Sabres lately. He has scored 12 points in the last 13 games and surpassed 18 minutes of ice time in each of the last two games. He practically doesn’t receive any power play time, but if he continues to produce its just matter of time before that happens.

Jeff Carter was surpassed by Mike Richards this season despite the fact that Carter was the higher rated prospect. However, Carter isn’t to be forgotten and since December 21 he has scored a point in 12 out of 15 games totaling 15 points during that span including 9 goals. Despite the fact that there’s no room for him on the top power play unit, he has the talent to keep up the production…as long as the Flyers don’t sign Peter Forsberg.

Josh Harding
hasn’t been given much attention in large part due to the fact that Niklas Backstrom had such a solid season debut winning 7 of his first 9 games and giving up more than two goals only twice in that span. However, Backstrom has been dealing with various ailments the past two months and has let in at least three goals in 7 of his last 10 games while Harding has given two goals or less in 4 of his last 5 games. Harding’s overall season stats are weakened by an 8 goal debacle in late December, but he has the goods to be an excellent number one goaltender and he has a chance to take over that role in Minnesota over the next few weeks.

Robert Nilsson
just can’t get any respect. The former first round pick never received a real chance to prove himself with the Islanders and is having a hard time receiving decent ice time in Edmonton. However, he has done very well with the time he has received this season including posting an eight-game point streak in December. He scored a mere 2 points in his next seven games and once again became a forgotten player in most fantasy leagues, but with 7 points in his last 9 games, he once again deserves attention. His minutes are very high, but I think his talent will soon force the Oilers to give him a more important role.

Patrick O’Sullivan
is due to score a lot more goals than he has done since he entered the NHL. He scored 47 goals as an AHL rookie in 2005-06 and followed that up with 18 goals in 41 games the next season before graduating to the NHL. However, in 94 NHL games O’Sullivan has put only 17 goals in the net despite 235 shots on goal. That’s a 7.23 shooting percentage which is awfully low considering that 261 players have a better shooting percentage than that this season. Despite the fact that he isn’t scoring enough goals, O’Sullivan has been putting up the points since early December with 17 points in 21 games.

Matthew Carle is one of the biggest busts of the 2007-08 season. After scoring 42 points last season, we all expected him to take it a step further and reach the 50-point mark if not the 60-point plateau. He started off the season on an average pace scoring six points in his first 15 games, but then went 15 games without a point and was a healthy scratch several times. However, he’s showing signs of turning it around with six points in the last 11 games. He might not be back to last year’s level, but he’ll definitely have fantasy value.

Andrei Kostitsyn numbers don’t look great overall, 29 points in 44 games is nothing to get excited about. But when you consider that he’s scored 21 points in his last 21 games, you’ve