Don’t overlook valuable players on bad teams.
In the world of fantasy sports, things are seldom as bad as they are perceived. Far too often I see managers (myself included) completely ignore valuable players because of the fact that they play for a bad team. "I like him, but his team can't score so he won't get any points" is the type of thing I hear all the time, but this isn't always accurate.
In our constant search for value, some of the best finds can come from the worst teams. Every team plays the same number of games and someone has to fill over 4,920 minutes of ice time. Every team needs a first unit power-play, a top line, a #1 goalie etc. This is where we find our value as most managers will do everything possible to avoid a player on a bottom feeder (FLA, BUF, COL, CGY) or constant low scoring (NSH, PHO) team. The team a guy plays for matters, but what can matter even more are the opportunities he is getting on that team. Most of the time, a guy playing 20 minutes a night with top power-play time on a BAD team will produce more than he would if he were getting 14 minutes a night and no power-play time on a GOOD team. Hey, even Matt Stajan scored 55 points on a terrible Leaf's team once upon a time when he was the third leading forward in terms of TOI. Or look at Dustin Byfuglien's production once he left Chicago and was given regular time on the top unit. It's all about opportunity.
When I am in a draft and the competition is reaching and gambling on who they think will be CHI #2 pivot (Andrew Shaw's average draft position is #152 this year), I'm snapping up Mike Fisher (ADP is over 180th), knowing that he is one of the go-to guys in Nashville. When Paul Martin (ADP 156) goes high in the draft simply because he's a Penguin, I'm all over Justin Faulk (ADP 166), Dimitry Kulikov (ADP 160) or even Marek Zidlicky (ADP 176) who I know will spend a good amount of time manning the top power-play. The point is, don't get sucked into the "good team" mirage on draft day. You're not drafting an NHL team, you're drafting individual players. Top lines are deemed that for a reason: because they get the most TOI and are counted on for scoring. The guys getting good minutes on bad teams can make for very good "diamonds in the rough" and provide your fantasy squad with some good, low-priced value.
So let's look at a couple potential diamonds in the rough to consider for the upcoming season:
Teams at the bottom of the standings are there for a reason and they aren't likely to have much scoring depth. Teams usually retain a few "stars" (I use the term "stars" loosely for the teams in question) but can't put together 2-3 lines of quality players. What does this mean for us? Look at a guy like Tomas Fleischmann who hasn't had much competition for top minutes in Florida. Florida is a cesspool of talented but unproven players at the moment and Flash has scored at a tidy 0.74 and 0.73 PPG since moving to the sunshine state, placing him amongst names such as Brad Richards, Patrick Sharp, Jeff Carter and David Krejci in 2013. Flash isn't exa