Big Opportunities East

Jeff Angus




Time to look at a few fantasy-relevant situations in the East. Sometimes all it takes is for the right opportunity to come along for a certain player to have a breakout season. There is a big difference between lining up with established scoring-line players instead of playing defensive minutes on a checking line, just as there is a big difference between receiving first-unit power-play time compared to skating with the second unit.


Opportunity: Top-six winger in Buffalo


Contenders: Jochen Hecht, Drew Stafford, Clarke MacArthur, Nate Gerbe, and Dan Paille


Two of the above players will be playing in Buffalo's top six, as the other four spots are firmly held by Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, and Tim Connolly. Stafford is the safest bet, as he has proven he can be a valuable offensive player. However, he is still unsigned. Hecht has thrived at times in a scoring role, but is equally effective in a checking role and Buffalo may want to add some scoring to their shutdown unit. Gerbe is an offensive wizard and has a great shot at making the Sabres. He is the prototypical player who is small in stature but not in work ethic. MacArthur and Paille are very different players in real hockey, but their fantasy numbers should be similar. Paille is better defensively, so the Sabres will probably want to put him into a checking role. Long-term, Gerbe is definitely the best bet to be a valuable offensive contributor. MacArthur is still way too one-dimensional, and Paille and Hecht have limited offensive upsides. Assuming Stafford signs…


Odds: Hecht – 30 percent, MacArthur – 25 percent, Paille 25 – percent, Gerbe – 20 percent.


Opportunity: Top-six winger in New Jersey


Contenders: Nicklas Bergfors, Brendan Shanahan, David Clarkson, and Danius Zubrus


📢 advertisement:

The Devils top line will most likely be the proven trio of Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, and Jamie Langenbrunner. Brian Rolston, who will make a move back to the center ice position, will anchor the second unit. Patrick Elias will be the left wing, and the right wing position is completely wide open. David Clarkson showed he has some scoring touch last season, and the Devils also have a few veteran options in Danius Zubrus, and