Underrated Gems

Anthony Lancione




Some Western Conference waiver-wire gems to look at post-Sochi


As we sit back and take in Olympic hockey, we're enjoying a rare chance midseason to take our minds off the day-to-day grind of Fantasy GM-ing and recharge the batteries. I, however, urge you to take a step back into the office a little early to get the jump on your peers. Keep in mind that some variables in player value have begun to change slightly (positive and negative) due to performances in Sochi.


There can be great value up-trends for NHLers during the Games. Opportunities may pop up for some skaters borne from injuries to others. Simply experiencing elevated quality and intensity of play may foster a carry-over effect when returning back home to North America against some opponents that were too dormant in the interim weeks.


In general though, even players not participating in the Olympic games at all may have an opportunity to increase their potential output upon resumption of NHL games. Some will certainly be better for not participating, using the extra time on the mend to heal, rest and regenerate themselves (i.e. Henrik Sedin, Mikko Koivu, Lubomir Visnovsky, etc); While other support players may receive added value when their linemates who've had positive experiences at Sochi return (Think Tyler Bozak)


Lets take a look at the best Western Conference players who are currently less than 15% owned in YAHOO leagues.



Teemu Selanne (12%) – Finland & Anaheim

~ The Finnish Flash may be 43 years and seven months of age, but who's counting? With a pair of points in his two and a half outings, the living legend (Playing in his ridiculous sixth games) became the oldest player in Olympic history to score. I can only believe that with this spring being his last kick at the can, he will be a highly valuable commodity down the stretch once again, given the strength of his Ducks squad to boot this year. The Olympics have seen him play at a level we haven't seen much of this year. Expect this run to continue. Mind you, acknowledge that he certainly will continue to be rested on back to backs. Still worth the pick up in most formats regardless though.


Nino Niederreiter (11%) – Switzerland & Minnesota

~ The Swiss have certainly elevated their game in these Olympics. In fact, its fair enough to say now that they've  made it a 'Big Eight' of International Contenders, possible even surpassing Slovakia for the seventh spot. Sure Nino and his squad in general have still largely been a part of an anemic offense, but what we're seeing from this team across the pond is an impressive buy-in to team defense. This should carry over to his game back home, with an equally historically stingy Minnesota club, propelling him to clean up defensive holes allowing him more puck possession time. This hopefully will translate into a few more points; less time without the puck. 


Jakob Silfverberg (12%) – Sweden & Anaheim

~ After starting the campaign with points in all four of Anaheim's first games out of the gate, and piling up six points in six contests, it seemed a lock for Jakob to flourish in his sophomore campaign. However injury struck, and its taken a while for the Swedish forward to get back on his feet and running. Heading into the Olympics he was scoreless in five contests and was rightfully deemed Sweden's extra forward. With Zetterberg's injury, he's bound to play out the rest of the tournament instead of watching from the press box—a far better vantage point to learn from his nation's best remaining stars. While Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano benefit from the time off, they may also feed off any ripple effect in Jakob's play.


Sami Vatanen (1%) – Finland & Anaheim

~ With Hurricanes blue liner, Joni Pitkanen, missing the entire 2013/14 NHL season as well as the Sochi Games, a spot opened up for the young rearguard on Team Finland. Sami has so far posted up a superb four points in three games, through the round robin phase.


This same 22-year-old even spent a few weeks with The Ducks' AHL affiliate (Norfolk) in the early goings of the season. That's quite the skyrocketing ascension in a short period for Vatanen; from AHL-er to the top team in the NHL to representing his country on the biggest scale. It's impossible for him not to have learned immensely from countryman, (and admitted idol), Teemu Selanne in California and now over in Russia from veteran powerplay specialist, Kimmo Timonen. Bryan Allen (also 1% owned), Vatanen's blueline partner in Anaheim, just had his stock raise a fair bit due to this great experience by Sami overseas.


Olli Jokinen (12%) – Finland & Winnipeg

~ Olli has long been a dependable leader on the international scene, a highly decorated Finnish veteran coming into these games; his third Olympics, with a silver and bronze in his first two. He also has represented The Suomi in nine world championships (medaling five times), the 2004 world cup(silver) and won the 1998 juniors(Gold). His global pedigree showed its colours once again, with three points in three games thus far. He's been a fairly noticeable presence in the top six with injuries to Valterri Filppulla and Mikko Koivu. I'd expect a fair carry-over effect back in Winnipeg. Devin Setoguchi (Most Frequent linemate according to Frozen Pools) should be jumping for joy.




Line Combination











Mikael Granlund (7%) – Finland & Minnesota

~ Granlund is scarcely owned across the yahoo network (and beyond) despite having a great second year in the NHL. Specifically his past few weeks, while lining up with Zach Parise, have seen him really hit his stride including a five-game streak where he recorded eight points. He had no problem continuing the trend, netting a troika in Finland's opener. Due to the absences of Filppula and the Koivu brothers (and now Barkov), Granlund is seeing a tonne of responsibility at international level and at club.

Knowing that both coaches have enough faith in him to line him up with their best offensive talents must be doing wonders for his confidence right now. Jump on it.



Raphael Diaz (3%) – Switzerland & Vancouver

~ Mr. Diaz has been one of the key reasons Switzerland has opened a lot of eyes this tourney following the squad’s wonderful defensive performances. Hiller has been undeniably their first star, however a near flawless contingent thwarting off all incoming attacks has been of massive use to him. Diaz being one of the most experiences on the squad, after Streit, has allowed him to flourish defensively with more minutes than he's accustomed to. While this experience will not translate into much more offensive output back at his new NHL home in Vancouver, you may enjoy a spike in his plus/minus, due to improved all-around game. Also, don't forget that due to assuredly receiving more minutes than in Montreal (19:07 TOI = season avg. 22:46 in Vancouver already), a slight uptick in offense is bound to follow as well.


In the meantime, hope you'll be enjoying the knockout rounds in Sochi as much as I. Now here's where the fun really begins! Don't forget to stay fresh and on top of your rosters though. Try to envision which performances overseas may illicit more trust and playing time upon their returns to NHL action, and how it may affect their linemates awaiting their return from best on best elevated competition.


Also check out:

Trade Deadline Preparations – Part 2 
Trade Deadline Preparations – Part 1 



 (~~ Follow Anthony Lancione on Twitter @Anthisdaman)




No data found.


  • No data at this moment.


No data found.


No data found.