Fourteen players who will deliver on some of the "other" categories..
Leagues that count peripheral categories such as blocks, hits and penalty minutes often require that teams search a bit harder for depth options. Players that deliver points are often already well known based on their traditional value but players who contribute to peripheral categories traditionally lack fantasy value. Many of these player are third and fourth line forwards or third pairing defensemen and will largely be the focus of this column. That being the case these players are not heavily owned in the bulk of fantasy leagues and as such only one player in this column is owned in more than 40% of leagues on Fantrax.
Kevin Bieksa (33% owned Fantrax)
Bieksa has little traditional fantasy value despite having played the most minutes on the Ducks this season. That is not as impressive as it seems though, as Bieksa gets top four minutes but his overall lead is primarily due to injuries to the Ducks’ other defensemen. Bieksa used to be contribute in multiple facets of the game but the offensive side of his game has all but vanished. With the vanishing of his offensive game he is getting hits and blocks at a career high pace, which should continue given his largely defensive role. The improved peripherals are not enough to replace Bieksa’s offensive contributions but they do help him retain some of his former value.
Ryan Garbutt (10% owned Fantrax)
Garbutt’s minutes have been back significantly this year both while in Chicago and even more so since the trade to Anaheim. With the lost minutes has come fewer points and less added value via peripheral categories. Still he averages around two hits per game putting him solidly in the second tier of the league’s prolific hitters. For teams that require hits Garbutt is a nice add but he should not be the first choice.
Klas Dahlbeck (16% owned Fantrax)
Dahlbeck showed some early signs of offense this season but any hope of that has long since flickered out. Where Dahlbeck has excelled even as his offense has faltered is in delivering hits. He is currently 10th among defensemen in hits averaging nearly three hits per game. Along with those hits he provides one block and half a penalty minutes per game. Given Dahlbeck’s defensive role on the Coyotes look for the hits to keep coming along with the blocks. He is especially valuable in cap leagues as he makes well under a million this year.
Connor Murphy (25% owned Fantrax)
Murphy has not been as prolific a hitter as Dahlbeck but he has delivered better value across the board. Amongst defensemen he is top 30 in hits, top 50 in penalty minutes and top 80 in blocks, he also has the best plus/minus on the Coyotes even if it is a meager plus five. Murphy only has 11 points so far but of the defensemen with more than his 105 blocks only 13 have more points than him. This means that his points combined with his peripherals make him an underrated own for leagues that count peripherals.
Kris Russell (44% owned Fantrax)
Russell is basically the definition of a player that offers value in only one stat or category. While he gets just less than three blocks per game he only has 14 points, 29 hits and eight penalty minutes to go with a minus six. He gets enough minutes to contribute more offensively but the points are not there despite playing largely with Dougie Hamilton. If he is going to have any value outside of blocks it will be while Wideman is suspended and more power-play time is available.
Micheal Ferland (17% owned Fantrax)
With 127 hits on the season Ferland ranks in the top 25 for hits but he has yet to bring much else to the table. He is intriguing though because he bounces up and down the lineup, occasionally even getting time on the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan. He does not however get a much power-play time, meaning that his value is almost exclusively tied to his hits. He is another decent option for teams desperate for hits in deep leagues.
Niklas Hjalmarsson (25% owned Fantrax)
Hjalmarsson gets blocks, minutes and despite a largely defensive role can be counted for a solid plus/minus, the latter the benefit of playing for the Blackhawks. This year he has played the bulk of his minutes with Duncan Keith but he will never deliver a lot of offensive value. It has helped to put him on pace to match his career high point total from 2013/14.
Erik Gustafsson (24% owned Fantrax)
Trevor Van Riemsdyk started the season in the Hawks’ top four but has been supplanted by Erik Gustafsson. He only has eight points this season but those have come in just 23 games, putting him on pace fro nearly 30 points. Of late Gustafsson has been getting second unit power-play time, which bodes well for his production continuing. On top of the decent production he averages a block and a hit per game as well as half a penalty minute per game making him a great add for the stretch run.
Cody McLeod (30% owned Fantrax)
McLeod was getting minutes on the power-play and as the extra attacker but Patrick Roy seems to have to his senses and McLeod’s minutes have recently largely been limited to even-strength and the penalty-kill. His minutes have gone back to their normal levels but the minutes drop-off has not affected his hit and block pace which remains amongst the league’s best in both categories. In fact he is one of only three players in the league to rank in the top 10 in both categories. He is not a name that has traditionally held fantasy value but in leagues that count peripheral categories he is a hidden gem.
Blake Comeau (29% owned Fantrax)
Blake Comeau is a poor man’s power forward as he ranks in the top 10 in the league in hits while adding a penalty minute per game as well as half a point per game. His production rate has him on pace to challenge 40 points this season, which would put him near his career high. He is in a great situation in Colorado playing on a line with Carl Soderberg and most recently Gabe Landeskog and makes a great depth addition in almost all leagues.
Antoine Roussel (35% owned Fantrax)
Roussel is a great multi-category own with his high penalty minute totals complemented by a hit and a half and half a block per game. He adds more than just penalty minutes and hits though as Roussel has 18 points despite seeing third line minutes at even-strength and penalty-killing duties. He will not carry a fantasy team but he is the type of player that fills a lot of categories and ensures a high floor in multi-category leagues.
Jordie Benn (11% owned Fantrax)
Jamie Benn’s brother does not do anything spectacularly but he does contribute in a number of ways. The main ways in which he contributes are through blocks and hits, where he gets one and a half of each per game. Given his minutes per game, third pairing duties, his nine points thus far are not nearly as paltry as they seem at first glance. Even if his point totals are not bad for a third pairing defenseman they still only make him a decent depth option.
Eric Gryba (14% owned Fantrax)
Eric Gryba is the prototypical stay-at-home defenseman, he does not contribute much, if anything, in the way of points but racks up the peripheral statistics in a major way. The blocks are only good for 75th amongst defensemen but the hits are good for 11th overall and the penalty minutes are third amongst defensemen. There are only two defensemen who have more hits and more penalty minutes than Gryba. He is the type of defenseman who can give a team a sizable foothold in most of the peripheral categories.
Matt Hendricks (11% owned Fantrax)
Hendricks is basically the forward version of Eric Gryba, contributing across the board in the peripheral categories. The statistics in which he contributes are very emblematic of the role he plays, heavy defensive minutes including considerable minutes on the penalty-kill. The Oilers expect him to deliver hits, blocks and penalty minutes, although the latter may change with Zack Kassian’s arrival in Edmonton. Even if his penalty minutes take a bit of a hit he is still averaging more than one of each per game and nearly three hits per game making him a great add to any team that does not need points.
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