Crashing the Net: A Few Lesser-Known First Liners

Updated: October 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm by Alexander Monaghan

By Alexander Monaghan
Editor-in-chief

Welcome to this week’s edition of Crashing the Net — the first waiver wire article of the season. We hope you will be able to utilize this article in order to gain a competitive advantage over your opponents throughout the season. Feel free to add omissions and critique our current choices in the comments section as we welcome an open discussion at DailyFaceoff.com.

Without further ado, here are our final waiver picks of the season:

Milan Michalek, Left Wing, Ottawa Senators

Michalek is starting this season where he left off last season — a once-again productive member of the fantasy hockey community. Over his seven career NHL seasons, the left wing has never played a full 82 games which makes him destined to miss a few games. Nevertheless, he showed the ability to approach 20 goals no matter the games played. Playing on a scoring line with Daniel Alfredsson and either Stephane Da Costa or Mika Zibanejad, the Jindrichuv Hradec native scored two goals and four points over only three contests. The Sens have also scored 11 goals through their first three games — an indication they could score many more goals this season.Not the sexiest option but certainly a valuable commodity in most leagues.

Craig Smith, Center, Nashville Predators

We learned Smith would play on the top line early in the preseason but we never expected immediate results. Over his first two NHL games, the center-turned-winger scored two goals and four points while playing with David Legwand and fellow collegiate-standout Craig Wilson. The injuries to Mike Fisher and Martin Erat coupled with the departure of Joel Ward certainly clears up enough space for the former fourth round pick to remain on a scoring line. Keep in mind he earned a spot on Team USA during last season’s World Championships without playing a single professional game. Expect him to match his former teammate Derek Stepan’s production from last season.

Luke Adam, Center, Buffalo Sabres

With Derek Roy still recovering from season-ending surgery, Luke Adam takes the reigns as the team’s top line center. Entrenched between solid goal scoring wingers Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, the 21-year-old scored two goals and four points over his first two games. Putting that into perspective, Adam only scored one goal and four points over all 19 games he played at the NHL level last season. In addition, he scored 29 goals and 62 points over 57 games with the Portland Pirates of the AHL which indicates he certainly can produce at a higher level. This Sabres team could resemble the high-octane offense of the 2005-2007 era which would mean his fantasy hockey value continues through the season.

David Legwand, Center, Nashville Predators

Only two games into the season and the Predators are already fielding a lineup without Erat, Fisher and now possibly Patric Hornqvist. However, the team’s loss is Legwand’s gain as he becomes the team’s top line center, pivoting Smith and Wilson. Over his first two games, the former 2nd overall pick scored two goals and five points — uncharacteristically dominant play. Directly after the lockout, Legwand scored 27 goals and 63 points through 78 games but he either couldn’t stay on the ice through 82 games or break 50 points in past seasons. This season could be the year where he puts it all together, again.

Vinny Prospal, Center/Left Wing, Columbus Blue Jackets

When GM Scott Howson traded for Jeff Carter we knew the Blue Jackets would ice a solid top line. Through four games, Prospal has rounded out that top unit and prospered from it by scoring two goals and four points over that span. Last season, he was able to put up sneaky fantasy hockey value by scoring nine goals and 23 points through 29 games while playing primarily with Marian Gaborik. Since 1999, Prospal has made a living off scoring with superior linemates; his first season in Ohio shouldn’t be any different. Grab him if you need some fantasy hockey value with roster flexibility.

Tyler Kennedy, Left Wing/Right Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins

No Sidney Crosby, no Evgeni Malkin, no problem. Without the team’s superstars, Kennedy once again steps into the forefront for coach Dan Blysma’s Pens. His line, which was once described as the second or third line, now gets top-billing minutes as Jordan Staal and Chris Kunitz represent the team’s most lethal scoring options. In addition, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. native became the pivot on the top PP unit. Last season, he broke out with a 21-goal, 45-point campaign. This season he’s maintained a similar pace with a goal and two points over the first four. With dual-wing eligibility and an upward trajectory there are likely worse options out there.

Yannick Weber, Defense, Montreal Canadiens

The injuries continue to mount on the Habs blue line, starting with Andrei Markov and continuing with Chris Campoli and Jaroslav Spacek. While Alexei Emelin drew back into the lineup, the more interesting lineup change came with Weber moving from fourth line right wing to third pairing defender. The Morges, Switzerland responded well in his first game back on the blue line, scoring a goal and an assist. While all three players are injured he will see time on the second PP unit and could surpass his countrymate Rafael Diaz on the depth chart with more consistent play. Over his final 80 regular season games with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL, the 23-year-old scored 15 goals and 44 points. There certainly is potential to succeed at the NHL level as Weber should carry fantasy hockey relevance in the short term.

Cory Schneider, Goaltender, Vancouver Canucks

Have you seen the play of Roberto Luongo lately? He allowed three goals in the season opener and five goals last night. Only three games into the season and Schneider has the better numbers and the team’s lone win. The entire city of Vancouver will be calling for Luongo’s head by the end of the month at this rate. As stated in our recent ‘On the Hot Seat‘ article, you need to add Schneider. To quote myself: If you own Luongo, you should own Schneider. If you need a number three goalie, you should own Schneider. Overall, you probably should own Schneider.

We hope you enjoyed our latest as much as we enjoyed writing it. If there are glaring omissions let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time and follow us on Twitter @DailyFaceoff

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